What is weeding?
There is no magic cure to make weeds go away. Weeding is part of maintaining a garden, and the more regularly and consistently you weed, the easier and quicker it actually is.
Weeding is removing unwanted plants from the ones you want to be productive or ornamental in your garden. You decide what a weed is. If a tomato sprouts in the compost you spread around your roses, you will probably pull that tomato out, even though you grow tomatoes in your vegetable garden. Don't be afraid to remove a "good" plant if it's not where you want it. You want the plants that remain to attain their full growth and maturity, and weeds steal sunlight, moisture, and other resources from the plants you are intending to grow.
When do I need to weed?
The best time to weed is when the soil is moist and the weeds are very small, mere seedlings. If you make weeding part of your daily stroll through the garden, you can spot and remove them as you monitor for pests and harvest crops.
The best tool for weeding is your hand. There are situations in weeding, however, where something more is called for. If you have many small seedlings, a hoe (either long- or short-handled, like a Ken-ho weeder) can cut them all off at soil level with a few swipes. If you discover a tap-rooted weed that's attained some size, a Hori-hori knife will help you prize it out of the earth.
How do I get rid of weeds?
The best way to prevent weeds is to leave no bare earth. Space plants close together so they shade the ground between them, and mulch the soil. Most weed seeds need light to germinate, so these two practices go a long way in minimizing weed eruption from the soil. Also avoid disturbing the soil when possible, as this brings new weed seeds to the surface where they can germinate and flourish.
Work especially hard to remove the roots of perennial weeds, as they will often resprout from root pieces left behind. Above all, don't let any weeds go to seed, as that will only increase your weeding next year.
Weeds seem harmless when they are small, but that is when they are most easily defeated. A good rain followed by a hot spell means a sudden growth spurt for the weeds, and suddenly a task of a few minutes becomes a big chore that you put off. Remove weeds when they are small, daily if you can, and weeding will be no big deal.
Gardening Tools for Weeding
Many great tools are available to streamline the process of weeding your garden. One of our favorite gardening tools to weed with is the Hori Hori Gardening Knife:
The best method of removing weeds is always by hand, but if this is not a practical solution for you, then weed killers can get the job done effectively. The classic example is weeding for your lawn. Picking every weed out of your lawn by hand may take too much time for average gardener, but using granular or powder weed killers for lawns may offer a quick and easy alternative that will avoid damaging your lawn.
Roundup, Spectracide, and Preen are the most popular brands of synthetic chemical weed killers available on today's market. While using any of these chemical weed killers, always handle them with care and avoid ingesting or inhaling any of the liquid or vapors. The use of gloves and a mask is always recommended. But, if you fear the potential consequences of putting synthetic chemicals on or near the soil for your plants, then there are more natural, alternative weed killers that offer comparable results for weeding.
By mixing 2 household ingredients together, vinegar and soap, you can create an organic weed killer in just minutes without leaving your house. This mixture consists of 1 gallon of vinegar (vaying vinegar concentrations give you various strengths of weed killers), 1 cup of salt, and 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap. Vinegar by itself is decently effective at dehydrating weeds, but when mixed together with the dish soap, this homemade cocktail provides weed killing results similar to those seen with many chemical weed killers. When using a vinegar weed killer, it is important to remember that vinegar, however diluted in the mixture, is still an acid and must be handled with care.
The most important thing to keep in mind when weeding is that there are many solutions to effectively weed your garden, but consistency is the key. Whether this is hand weeding, controlling weeds with film, or the use of weed killers, finding the best solution for your garden and consistently sticking it to the weeds will net you a healthy, weed free growing environment for your plants.