Weeding may be the least favorite task a gardener must tackle. Keeping up with weeding can be tedious and overwhelming, but a little planning can ease the burden tremendously—leaving you with more time to enjoy your garden. Read on to learn about weeding tips that will save you time and keep your garden and landscape looking great.
1. Know Your Landscape
Take stock of your yard to determine which areas are prone to weed growth, may harbor stinging-insect nests, and contain allergy-inducing or poisonous plants. This will allow you to be prepared to tackle these areas with the appropriate tools and methods.
2. Dress Appropriately
Wear gloves when weeding to protect your hands. If you prefer the bare hand method, a tip for keeping your fingernails clean is to scrape your nails over a bar of soap before weeding to seal the area between the nails and the fingers, creating a barrier from the dirt. Wear rubber boots or gardening shoes. Avoid open-toe footwear to protect your feet from dropped tools, stinging insects, or poisonous plants. Wear a hat and sunscreen and keep insect repellent handy. Keep a bottle of water close by. It’s always important to stay hydrated.
3. Use the Proper Tools and Equipment
Use knee pads or a gardening mat to cushion knees and reduce back pressure. Bring a bucket in which to gather the weeds and a pointed garden tool or small shovel to loosen weed roots.
Tip: Use a child’s wagon to pull your tools around and to collect weeds.
Step-by-Step Weeding Instructions
- Weed after it rains or prepare the area by watering. It’s much easier to loosen the soil when it’s wet.
- Grab the weed at the base and gently pull, being careful to remove all of the roots of the weed without breaking it off partially. Use a tool to loosen the dirt around the root area if needed.
- Collect all of the weeds and dispose of in a trash receptacle. Do not compost weeds as this will encourage new weeds to grow from the seeds that may be contained in the plucked plants.
Weeding large areas. In areas with extensive weed growth, try the tarp method. Cut the weeds down close to the ground. Immediately afterwards, place a tarp over the area. Leave covered for at least three weeks. Remove the covering when the weeds are dead and dig up roots and dispose of without composting.
Liquid weed killer. If you decide to use a commercial product, purchase it from a reputable garden center and follow directions carefully. Or try this homemade recipe and instruction for a weed killing: combine 1 gallon of white vinegar, 1 cup of salt and 1/8 cup of dish liquid—do not use dishwasher liquid. Mix and pour into a spray bottle. Mist the weeds, being careful not to expose other plants. Within a few days the weeds will be dead.
Removing poisonous weeds. When removing rash and skin irritating weeds such as poison ivy, poison oak and giant hogweed, be SURE to wear long sleeved clothing, long pants with boots, and gardening gloves with rubber gloves over them. Wear a hat and a bandana to cover your nose and mouth as well as safety goggles. Remove poisonous weeds as you would other weeds, taking extreme extra care to avoid any contact with skin whatsoever. Keep in mind that some poisonous weeds remain poisonous even after they appear to be dead. When using the tarp method or spray to kill weeds, be sure to wear protective clothing when placing and removing the tarp and when removing the remaining vegetation. Dispose of both sets of gloves and wash clothing separately in cold water at least three times. Hose down rubber boots and clean with dish detergent before rinsing thoroughly.