Five ways to eradicate garden weeds

Hoeing out weed seedlings between plants

Many of the worst garden weeds can quickly take over your garden during the growing season. Weeds start growing earlier in the year than many garden plants, in early spring – so be sure to get on top of them early before they get out of hand.

Not sure which young plants are weeds? Check our weed seedling identifier to help you identify them.

Then each week, check your garden for weeds and take action to control them. If you ignore them, they’ll spread or set seed, causing bigger problems later on. Some weeds, such as bryony, must be dealt with whilst young. Perennial weeds can also be a particular problem, as they will regrow year after year.

In this short video, Alan Titchmarsh explains the difference between annual and perennial weeds and how to get rid of them.

There are lots of different ways to deal with weeds, from hoeing to pulling them up. It’s best to weed on a dry day, when the soil is moist – this will make them easier to dig up, then clear away.

Here are five ways to eradicate garden weeds.

If you ignore weeds, they’ll spread or set seed, causing bigger problems later on.


 

Dig them up

Use a garden hand trowel to remove spreading weeds like couch grass. If digging up perennials such as bindweed or nettles, dig deep using a garden fork and be sure to pull up the whole root, as tiny pieces left will become new weeds.

Digging up couch grass
Digging up couch grass with its entire roots
In this short video, Alan Titchmarsh shows how to weed by hand, to remove perennial weeds such as thistles and annual weeds such as speedwell:

 

Hoe them off

Hoe over bare areas of soil weekly to sever weed roots and create a dry surface that helps prevent weed seeds from germinating. Choose a dry day, so that weeds on the surface dehydrate, wither and die. Find out more about using a hoe.

Hoe weeds
Hoeing out weed seedlings between plants
 

Pull them out

Pull out annual weeds such as groundsel or chickweed with the roots, before they have a chance to set seed. Hand weed after rain has softened the soil, allowing you to pull out complete root systems. Weeds such as herb Robert do not root deeply and are easy to remove by hand.

Pull up groundsel
Pulling up groundsel by hand
 

Scrape them out

Scrape out weeds, such as dandelions or meadowgrass, between gaps in paving using a weeding tool or an old knife. Tease them out, roots and all. If you choose to use chemicals, you could also apply a residual path weedkiller afterwards, to prevent further weed growth.

Weeds in paving
A dandelion growing between paving slabs
 

Spray them

If you have a bad perennial weed infestation and don’t mind using chemicals, you could use a systemic weedkiller. Spray or dab onto dry leaves, when rain is not forecast, in midsummer. If tackling bindweed, train up a bamboo cane first to isolate from the other plants. Always read the label.

Japanese knotweed can be a very serious problem and can be difficult to eradicate. Professional help may be necessary.

Spraying bindweed with glyphosate
Spraying weedkiller on bindweed trained up a bamboo cane

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