Is there a gentle way to weed without damaging your ecosystem? Here are some tips and tricks to get rid of invasive weeds, without upsetting the balance and fauna of the soil.
Prevention | How | When | Tools | Future
Better than removing weeds, preventing them from growing the first place is always an ideal solution.
To do this, there’s nothing more simple than hoeing early in the season. Then, you can apply mulch to the ground when it is still hot. You can check our mulching guide on how to do it.
If you’re about to create your garden, you can prepare the soil beforehand to have it free of weeds. Get old carpets, and place them directly on the grass at the end of the summer. Leave them there until it’s time to plant. When you remove them, you’ll find your soil ready to go (almost).
How to weed?
You first need to know what kind of plant you’re dealing with.
For some (pigweed, groundsel, goosefoot), it’s all about pulling the part of the weed above ground to kill it.
Others, mostly perennials (nettles, creeping buttercup, rumex, horsetail, dandelion), you’ll need to take out the entire root, if you don’t want them to grow back up. Use a suitable tool to do the job. A hoe is a great way to unearth the root without damaging it.
On large surfaces, try a stale seed bed. To do so, prepare the soil as if you’re gonna sow, but wait about two weeks before planting. Meanwhile, weed seeds will have been brought to the surface. All that is left to do is getting rid of these seedlings.
When to weed?
The best time to weed is in spring and summer, before the growth of plant seeds. You can let them grow a bit and toast the sun before you rake with care. They’ll be even easier to weed.
Thermal weeding is best achieved at the end of winter. Based on the lunar cycle, it is best to weed on a waning moon.
Regardless, it is essential to avoid seeding weeds, otherwise all your work will have been for nothing.
What tools for weeding?
You can pretty much anything from your hands, to an old kitchen knife. Of course, there are specific tools for the job, as well as a few manual weeding tools to remove deep roots.
You can use a thermal weeder on paved or gravel surfaces, as well as soil hard to reach or where digging will be difficult.
Particularly effective on moss, a weed burner is a small torch that is used on the plant above ground. It creates a thermal shock that the plant cannot survive.
When it comes to weeds trapped between slabs, try pouring boiling water over them. You can even recycle your cooking water.
Avoiding future weeding
Once you’ve done your first large weeding, there’s no need to repeat it every month. To avoid having to weed every other month, try not to let the soil be bare. To achieve this, there are multiple ways:
- Plants that cover the ground (sedum, ivy, speedwell, heuchera).
- Natural mulch (bark, wood chips, gravel), or plastic mulch.
- Natural fertilizers (crimson clover, phacelia, buckwheat, etc.). They’ll occupy larger areas instead of weeds, and will feed the soil instead of depleting it.
When it comes to ecological and organic gardening, there is no “weeds” per se. Merely stray plants in the wrong places. Remember that they are valuable indicators of the nature of your soil, that they harbor wildlife (especially insects), and some can even protect your crops from pests.
Nettle is one of these hated garden plants that can still provide many useful services. It can easily convert into an excellent liquid fertilizer for your plants.
It’s always useful to keep a corner of your garden overgrown, and not weed it.