There will always be weeds. Mother nature does not like to have a bare patch of soil. Learn how to weed your garden during the growing season efficiently and effectively.
You’re looking at your garden right now thinking “How am I going to get all these weeds under control?”
So what can you do to reduce your time, energy and stress level when it comes to weeding without dumping a bunch of chemicals on your garden?
I am here to share with you my weeding triage method and the tools to assist you in the process.
Looking at your vegetable garden completely overrun with weeds is heartbreaking. Especially when you can hardly see your precious vegetable or herb seedlings poking through.
This post is going to be entirely how to reclaim your active vegetable, flower or herb garden from weeds during the growing season.
If it is still early in the year and you are preparing for the gardening season and want to get ahead of the weeds that will sprout then check out my post on “Gardening Season Prep: Best Way To Remove Weeds From Large Areas”
Let’s start with the tools for the job. Sure you can crawl around on your hands and knees and hand pick weeds but that is back breaking and very time consuming. The right gardening tools make a world of difference.
You can also head straight to step-by-step process by clicking here or watch the video!
Essential Weeding Tools
For Large Weeding Areas
Large Push Pull Hoe With A Long Handle https://amzn.to/3j2Dwif
The beauty of this tool is that it cuts easily under the root of the plant. It does not displace a ton of soil and you can make quick work of fairly large areas with it. The long handle means you can stay standing while you are weeding.
Even though I have mostly transitioned away from rototilling my garden. I do still recommend this if you have to recover a large area from weeds. This can be used either in a big open plot or if you have large enough rows to get a rototiller down. e push pull type hoe with a long handle.
Weeding Narrow Rows & Close To Plants
Wire Weeder – Push Pull Hoe https://duboisag.com/ca_en/two-bad-cats-wire-weeder-with-60-handle.html
This works amazon for the smaller, superficially rooted weeds that are in narrow rows or right close to your plants. I actually made a wire weeder end out of a coat hanger attached to a broom handle but it does bend sideways. Purchase the real thing I imagine is much more secure or the attachments shown below.
Hand Held Wire Weeder – Push Pull Hoe https://duboisag.com/ca_en/two-bad-cats-wire-tip-for-wire-weeder.html
Same as above just the handheld version. Good in pots or if you like to get down and dirty with those weeds! These can be a little tougher to find for whatever reason BUT you can buy the attachments and use a hose clamp to secure it to almost any handle. ex. paint brush or just cut down a broom handle.
Other Helpful Tools
Re-Usable Yard Waste https://amzn.to/3xt9IPB
To throw the weeds and other organic (or not) littler in after you have removed them. These compact down when not in use for easy storage.
Knee Pads https://amzn.to/35L6oDP
To protect yourself while you are doing the fine weeding work or anything requiring you to be on your hands and knees.
Leaf Blower / Vac https://amzn.to/3wEhSod
This is a MUST have tool for every homeowner. Makes very quick work of large areas. Allows you to blast the seeds, leaves and other crud out of corners, and most importantly out of your garden. I use the blower and the vac portions equally.
How To Weed Your Garden: The Process
Step 1: The biggest areas first.
Starting with the large areas will help you get some shape back to your rows or sections and quickly give you confidence that you are winning the battle.
Option 1: Super large area to cover and/or severe weeds.
Use either your rototiller if you have a super large area to conquer and wide enough rows.
Option 2: Slightly smaller rows between plants or not as severe of weed problem.
Use a large long handle push pull type hoe. The long hand allows you weed your garden standing (less strain on the body) and the push pull type hoe covers a large area quickly. It is amazing for getting right under the root of the weed easily to properly remove it which is key.
Step 2: The fine details
Second, use the wire weeder push pile hoe to get in close to the plants to uproot the weeds. I like to start here before I get to the hand weeding because this speeds up the process considerably.
Step 3: Don’t leave the weeds laying in the dirt.
The most important thing is to try and scoop up as many weeds that you have loosened. Don’t leave them lying in the dirt if you can help it. This will avoid any weeds re-rooting (not all will but some do) or their flowers going to seeds causing you more headaches in the future.
DO NOT toss these weeds into your personal home compost bin.
You can send them to the community compost if you have the option, otherwise they are garbage. Large community compost have enough mass to get hot enough to kill and sterilize weed seeds. The average home compost system does not usually get hot enough.
Step 4: Lay down weed suppression materials.
Depending on the style of your garden, if you have larger rows that you can walk through, areas around your raised beds or weedy grassy areas that are trying to encroach on your garden then this is incredibly beneficial. See Step 2 in my post “Gardening Season Prep: Best Way To Remove Weeds From Large Areas” Where I go into detail on how this works and the pro’s and con’s of certain materials.
When is it time to sacrifice your seedlings and start over?
Sometimes you just have to start over again.
It’s heartbreaking but a very valuable lesson I learned many years ago. If you have had to wipe out an entire garden bed in the middle of the growing season, because there were so many weeds that it wasn’t even worth trying to save, you will know the feeling. It is very motivating to take big action so that it doesn’t happen again.
I came back from a 2 week summer vacation in July. We had perfect weather, lots of sun and plenty of rain while I was gone. My garden was a massive jungle.. Both good and bad.
One entire bed that I had neglected to weed well in previous seasons, was completely overrun with chickweed. They weeds were so bad that they had shaded out my carrot and lettuce seedlings enough so that they were stunted. I made the very hard decision to wipe the bed out completely. I ran a hoe through everything, removed as much of the weeds I could and put plastic over it (the method of solarization – discussed in “Gardening Season Prep: Best Way To Remove Weeds From Large Areas”) to kill everything that was there. As I have a short season I could not plant anything there for the rest of that season.
If you feel you are in this position then my heart goes out to you! It is time to take action now to turn things around for next year or even later in this season if you have a nice long season.
Here’s the good news! If you apply my “Gardening Season Prep: Best Way To Remove Weeds From Large Areas” method and what you have learned here it will be very unlikely that this will occur in future seasons. In fact, the more you apply these methods on repeat the less weeds will have the opportunity to re-root or to flower and drop their seeds in your garden to sprout in future seasons.