Weeding 101: Get’m While They’re Young

  • Difficulty Rating: Beginner
Weeding 101: Get’m While They’re Young

I’m as good as anyone else at procrastinating chores, and weeding certainly falls into the chore category in my book.

Yes, I love gardening, but weeding isn’t what I would call a pleasure. Over the years, through my procrastination tendencies, I’ve learned the hard way not to put off all my weeding chores. The longer I let those powerful, unwanted plants grow, the harder the eradication work becomes and the more of it there is to do. Thinking about having to weed harder and do more of it is usually enough to get me out in the garden, with the right tools for the job, to do my due diligence early and often.

Want to get ahead of the weeds in your garden? Here’s how I get a head start, keep this chore to a minimum, and in some instances actually get ahead of the curve.

The Ergo Weeder is perfect for weeding in loamy vegetable beds

Do a little work often: Rather than setting lofty and unrealistic goals like “I’ll pull every weed in the garden this weekend,” set smaller, achievable goals to spend an hour weeding a specific area, an hour mulching over it, and a half hour cleaning up. If you meet that goal, take on another small area and chip away, or take the rest of that weekend day off to relax in the garden and enjoy it. Next weekend or after work on a long summer evening, spend another hour or two out there doing just a bit. This way, you’re able to recharge and stay on top of those chores.

Get to the root of the issue: Just ripping and tearing the tops off your weeds isn’t going to do you any favors in the long run. Most weeds have the power to regenerate readily from left-behind roots – sometimes stronger than before. Try using a Big Grip Knife or an Big Grip Weeder when you’re working at soil level in softer, loamy beds. UpRoot® Weed and Root Removers are great for taproot weeds like dandelion in lawns or other hard-surface spaces.  You might even be able to make uprooting those weeds into a game for your kids.

Mulch as you go: As you pull your weeds, have some quality composted mulch or wood chips on hand to spread over your newly exposed soil right away. As you pull weeds, you are likely to disturb buried weed seeds. Disturbance brings them to the surface where sunlight exposure may awaken them, leading to more germinating weeds – and more work. By spreading a few inches of mulch over the area you just finished weeding, seeds won’t have as much of a chance, but any powerful perennials under the soil will still burst right on through.

Be choosy about what you compost: Even when we have the best intentions to get ahead of our weeds, sometimes the season gets ahead of us, and we find flowering and seedy weeds in the garden. Take care to dispose of any seed heads into community yard waste; don’t add them to your home Eco Bin composter, which is unlikely to heat up enough to kill those seeds. If your weeds haven’t gone to seed and don’t have a powerful taproot, their greens may be great for your home compost bin. I try to remember to keep to at least two Kangaroo bags nearby as I work – one for my home compost materials; the other for questionable material I’ll be sending on its merry way.