Getting rid of annual and perennial weeds keeps your garden beds tidy and your plants healthy. Weeds inhibit plant growth and compete for moisture in the soil. Once established, weeds become hard to remove without damaging your plants. You can lift weeds with a trowel, or tackle larger areas with a sharp-edged tool like a hoe, which cuts off shallow-rooted weeds.
In this section, there is general information on how you can make weeding easier, and details of some tools that you might find helpful.
There is additional information on weeding: sitting down and from a wheelchair; with sight loss; with a weak grip; with one hand; if you can't bend easily
Top tips to make weeding easier
For weeding at ground level, use a kneeler or strap-on knee pads. Some kneelers have handles to help you get up, and can also be upturned to sit on.
- Try out trowels for comfortable weight and grip. Depending on the height of your beds, you may need a hand trowel and one with a longer handle.
- It will help if you can adapt your garden to avoid having to weed at ground level and to keep the amount of weeding needed to a minimum. Here are some ideas to help:
- Always plant or sow into weed-free soil.
- Narrow ‘no-dig’ beds. Simply cover the bed with a thick mulch such as newspapers and then with a thick top layer of manure or compost. Worms and micro-organisms will help break the soil down and the mulch will help stop weeds growing.
Lay down a weed-suppressing membrane in permanent beds and plant through slits cut in the material. Cover the membrane with a mulch such as bark or gravel.
- Consider using raised beds and containers. These bring the soil off the ground, reduce the need for weeding and make any weeding that you have to do much easier. Find out more about raised beds
Taking care when weeding
'Warm up' before you begin, and take plenty of breaks. Don’t struggle and strain to pull out deep-rooted weeds by hand.
- Weeding with a trowel at ground level can put a strain on your knees, back, wrists and hands. Don’t do too much at once and take breaks.
- A full-length hoe can take a lot of strength to use and the chopping action can cause back strain and impact injuries to joints, tendons and ligaments. Do a little at a time and look for light tools that are easy to use.
- Make sure you protect your feet and lower legs to avoid injury from sharp tools like forks and spades.
Equipment and tools
In this section, there is general information on weeding tools, and a few examples of tools that you might find helpful.
You can see the full range of weeding tools, and search for equipment and tools which are easier for people with a specific disability to use, in Equipment and tools to help you
Trowels and forks with a contoured or larger diameter handle are easier to grip. Fist grip handles are at right angles to the tools and an arm support can be fitted to some models to support your wrist.
- Use a lighter short-handled hoe when you garden sitting down or try a push-pull weeder, which has a different shape blade and can be more effective.
- The Swoe cultivator has an angled blade that slides through the soil to cut weeds with an easy action.
- Long handled weeders work with a twisting, or gripping action to remove deep-rooted weeds without the need to bend and are easy to use from a chair
- If weeds have got out of hand, careful spot weeding with a systemic weedkiller should not harm nearby plants.