Keen to hear Adam's thoughts on the best way to control weeds in the garden. Is pulling them out by hand more or less effective than using a weed killer in terms of stopping them from growing back...?
Hey @Kermit great question,
This really comes down to a few things;
- present state of the garden
- size of the garden
- type of weeds
I’m going to digress for a second just on weeds in general. As a horticulturist I actually have a grudging level of admiration for weeds.
I won’t go into detail but this article I wrote a few years back for a garden-blog sums it up ☺
If we’re talking a regular sized garden with the typical weeds popping up then I’d always encourage hand-weeding above other methods. Here are a few tips –
- Know your enemy. Having a basic knowledge of weeds can help with selecting the right technique. Drop into the nursery & ask a plant specialist if you can’t be sure but if you ever take plant samples in seal them in a zip-lock bag and make sure they are fresh, don’t leave them stewing in the car for hours…
- Try to get weeds before they go to seed and if you can’t do that make sure that you very carefully take the seed-head too. You may want to bag that, not just throw it in the compost.
- Some weeds will easily regenerate from parts such as a stem or will reshoot from a stump so take the whole plant, roots and all.
- Mulch after weeding no matter what technique you use. Spread a good controlled-release fertiliser, lay down newspaper around 6 to 8 pages thick, wet it down and then cover with at least 5cm of mulch all over. I’ve a little video on the subject of mulching here.
- Wear gloves when you’re weeding as some weeds have prickles, others have milky sap that can irritate the skin.
There are excellent tools to make weeding easier.
When it comes to tools you still can’t beat an old-school daisy-grubber.
For tougher, especially deep-rooted weeds, I’m a huge fan of this from Fiskars. Great for lawn and garden and seriously saves you back...
Spraying is an interesting topic.
A lot of people are, shall we say, surprised, to hear that as a horticulturalist that specialises in sustainability I do spray for weeds, sometimes with a glyphosate-based product, & I will sometimes recommend to do so.
I take a pragmatic approach to spraying so here are my thoughts on the topic –
- Spay when other options have failed or size doesn’t allow for other options. We are on a small acreage so obviously hand-weeding our boundary fence line twice a year is never going to be an option.
- Spot-spray the individual weeds, don’t blanket spray.
- Spray as little as possible both in volume and frequency.
- Use a non-glypho option such as the excellent Slasher. It is in-fact organically certified.
- Avoid using glypho-based products in organic gardens or around food plants (unless using something such as Slasher).
- Invest in a good quality sprayer as they will have a better spray pattern and less wastage or a convenient one and look at spray-hoods that will limit the spray area and over-spray.
Sooo… short answer Kermit… hand-weeding should always be the first option.
We've had a big weeding blitz at our place in the past week. Slowly getting back on top of them!
Thanks again for this fantastic expert advice @Adam_W. Very much appreciated.
Additional info can be found here - https://www.bunnings.com.au/diy-advice/garden/planting-and-growing/how-to-control-weeds-organically
Additional input from other Workshop members is very welcome. How are your efforts to control weeds in your garden going? Do you have any tips you could share?