Dealing with weeds

Garden Life

Tips from Sarah the Gardener

Weeds can be the bane of a gardener’s life and an out of control garden is enough to put off enthusiastic new gardeners in the height of summer. However, weeds are a complex set of plants and if treated right can be much less of a nightmare than they appear on first impressions.

The best definition of a weed is that it is a plant in the wrong place and this can apply to a tree in a garden where you want a flower bed to be or that army of self-seeded tomatoes that appear in abundance in the spot tomatoes once were. More commonly a weed is identified as an ugly thug of a plant that is difficult to remove and/or so freely self-seeded that their offspring can be found in every corner of the garden. The common theme is they are not there by design or desire and are very much unwanted.

When it comes to weeds, knowledge is power and most have some kind of Achilles heel that will eventually take them out. With some, it is quick and easy while others, you form a long-term relationship with them as you do battle and eventually arise victorious.

The first and best piece of advice for tackling weeds is DON’T LET THEM GO TO SEED! The old adage one year’s seeds are seven years weeds is not something you want to put to the test.

Starting a garden is often done wth great enthusiasm, with the eye keenly on the fun part – planting out the plants. However, time taken at this point to prepare the garden properly will reap reward. Carefully and methodically go through the soil and remove every trace of weed and root. Some roots can go deep so in the absence of plants take advantage of opportunity to have a good rummage around and evict anything you see that you don’t want there.

It may seem daunting, but it is well worth the effort for the long-term enjoyment and control of weeds for the future of the garden. Don’t be tempted to take short cuts and get a rotovator in a new weedy garden. Some roots can regrow easily from small pieces of shoot or root, and one thug of a weed could become hundreds with one pass of the spinning blades on the rotary hoe.
The key to managing the weeds in the garden is taking the time to know which ones you have and find out as much as you can about them. Some are as easy as whipping them out and they are gone and others like those mentioned below will give you a run for your money!

Weeds have a variety of ways that make them effective as weeds and by looking at these will help to understand how to tackle them best.

Grass weed

Airborne and Passengers

These are the ones that blow in or are attached to the dog after a walk in the wild or via the poop of birds flying above. You can’t really control these beyond not letting them set seed in your own garden. Thistles and Blackberries do this well.


These work their way into your garden from next door, traveling at great speed (for a plant) above or below ground, setting down roots or sending up shoots at regular intervals to increase its dominance in the garden. Bindweed and Buttercup are great examples of this.


These plants use their roots to anchor themselves to the very center of the earth. It takes great effort and a rather large hole to remove an established tap-rooted weed. And to make things worse – if you leave behind the tiniest bit, it will be back. Removing Dock and Dandelions will give you a work out.

The GARDENA weeding trowel works brilliantly at removing these culprits!


Not many weeds have this feature, but it is worth mentioning, because if you have a weed like Oxalis in your garden, knowing what keeps it strong will help you overcome it. The leaves are deceptively delicate but beneath the soil is a bit fat tuber surrounded by loosely attached bulbils. With one tug to remove the plant, the bubals fall off and you may have removed the plant but created dozens more.

Weeding trowel