Want to learn how to weed a garden? Find out how to achieve the luscious lawn and weed-free borders of your dreams by banishing those pesky unwanted invaders from your garden. There are several different methods for removing weeds depending on their location, quantity and your own gardening ethos.
Simply put, a weed is a plant in a location that it is not wanted. However, there are several invasive species that crop up time and time again without ever having being planted such as dandelions, knotweed, Fat Hen and Groundsel.
Whether you're after a quick fix or are trying to maintain an organic garden and want a low-chemical solution, we have rounded up the most effective methods for weeding your garden. Read on for our quick tips, then check out our guide to the best weed killers.
1. How to weed a garden manually
With the benefit of not using any chemicals and being the cheapest option, you can dig up your weeds using a shovel and garden fork. This is ideal if you only have one or two weeds in your garden but it quickly becomes back-breaking work if you have a lawn full of them, in which case it may be worthwhile investing in a weed pulling tool.
A weed puller, like this one from Fiskars, lets you insert the claw around the weed, then step on it before effortlessly levering the weed out of the ground. Ergonomically designed, it lets you work from an upright position eradicating those gardening aches and pains as well as the weeds.
2. Make a natural weed killer with castile soap
There are very few tasks you can’t achieve without some simple household ingredients. When it comes to removing weeds, you can make a homemade weed killer with castile soap – simply make your own solution by combining it with equal parts water and then spray over the weed and leave to dry.
3. Use boiling water to kill weeds
Pouring boiling water at the base of weeds causes instant shock and will not only kill the plant but also any seeds that may be dormant in the soil. Perfect for walkways, paths and driveways the weed will die within a couple of days. However, it is not recommended for use on lawns or in borders with other plants as it can cause fatal damage to these too.
4. Make a homemade weed killer with baking soda
Since baking soda is a powder, you’ll need to wet the plant in order to make the powder stick. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of baking soda over the weed’s leaves and let the baking soda work its magic. This is a great method if you want to target specific weeds that have popped up amongst flowers or plants that you don’t want to harm. Reapply in four to six weeks if the weeds have not disappeared.
If you’re looking for ways to prevent weeds, then sprinkling baking soda in paving cracks can stop the weeds from appearing in the first place. Repeat every couple of weeks.
5. Use vinegar to kill weeds
The active ingredient in vinegar, acetic acid, is also very effective at destroying weeds. Your standard brown fish-and-chips vinegar will go a decent way to helping with your problem. Simply pour into a spray bottle and spritz onto the desired plants.
If you want something that packs a bit more a punch, there are also horticultural vinegars, which usually have a higher concentration of acetic acid and as a result are more effective. However, they also require handling with greater care as they are corrosive and can cause burn to skin, damage eyes and erode the surface of your tools.
6. Use lawn feed to remove weeds
A thick luscious carpet of green grass and clover is the dream lawn, but unfortunately for many, the reality is a yellow patchy expanse with the only green provided by invading species.
A combined lawn feed and weed product is the ideal solution, nourishing the grass while also killing the weeds. These are best applied in the spring, and will quickly help the grass to thrive and keep the weed and moss under control. Simply water into the lawn and within three to five weeks the moss and weeds will have blackened and be able to be raked out.
7. Try a biodegradable mulch
Mulching is one of the easiest ways to suppress weeds as it is simply added on top of the soil. Biodegradable mulches, such as garden compost, wood chippings, processed bark, leafmould, straw, seaweed and rotted manure all suppress weeds while also releasing essential nutrients back into the soil helping your plants to flourish. However, since it breaks down over time it will need to be replaced every few years.
8. Use weed killer
If you want to get the job done quickly and efficiently, commercial weed killers are many people’s go-to. You have two options. First, a targeted formula, usually a gel, that you apply to the leaves and it destroys the weed top down. This is ideal if you only have a few weeds, or if you don’t want to put any of your other plants at risk. Alternatively, if your problem is more widespread, then opt for a solution that is sprayed or watered onto the plant.
9. Kill weeds with an eco-friendly heat gun
Environmentally friendly, very precise, and a lot more exciting than pulling weeds by hand, a weed burner works by surrounding the weed with an extremely high temperature (between 80°C and 600°C) which destroys its leaves, preventing it from photosynthesising and subsequently kills the weed. However the roots remain intact so multiple treatments may be required.
10. Line your flowerbeds to stop weeds appearing
The easiest way to deal with weeds is to prevent them cropping up in the first place. Lining patio areas, driveways or gravel paths with a weedproof membrane before adding gravel, slate or similar will keep the weeds at bay.
Garden centres and DIY stores will sell specific lining sheets (it is sometimes called landscape fabric), which will also retain moisture and reduce the need for watering. Alternatively, if you have old carpet tiles or a shower curtain these are a great DIY solution and are a good way to recycle unwanted household items.