One of the secrets to being happy as a gardener is to embrace weeding.
No matter what kind of garden you have, as soon as you cultivate the earth and plant what you want to grow, the weeds will begin their quest to take over your garden.
You will never finish weeding. The weeds are always out there sprouting and growing in the areas you think you have finished weeding. You might slow the weeds down a bit or even halt them temporarily, but eventually they come back. They always do.
Make weeding a regular part of your routine during the growing season. Just as professional organizers advise people to spend some time each day picking up and decluttering to keep a house neat, you should plan to spend some time each day, or even every other day, weeding. It could be as little as 15 – 30 minutes of weeding, and it would still make a difference.
Of course, sometimes a house is too far gone with clutter so you have to spend some concentrated hours and days getting it back in order before the “maintenance decluttering” works. The same is true in gardens. If you have a garden that is more weeds than flowers, you will have to spend some concentrated time getting rid of the weeds and bringing order back to the garden before spending just a little time each day weeding makes a difference.
Know your weeds. If you know which weeds are annuals, you’ll know those are the ones that you should pull before they set seed. For the perennial weeds, you should try to get as much of the root as possible.
But don’t fret if you don’t get all the root of a perennial weed. It’s just not possible. I advocate that you just keep pulling them as they show leaves and eventually, you’ll start to see less of them. And don’t let the perennial weeds set seed either. In fact, don't let any weeds flower and set seed if you can help it.
But if you have field bindweed in your garden, I’m sorry. Consider moving.
Wear gloves when you weed. Finding a good pair of gloves that allow you to get a good grip on the weed is important because you want to protect your hands from weeds that fight back like stinging nettle, poison ivy, thistle, etc. If you can’t find such a pair of gloves, some gardeners have been known to cut off the thumb and index finger on a pair of gloves. Then at least they are protecting a part of their hands.
Use good tools. Your hands are not the only tools to use for weeding. I have many kinds of weeding tools, including hand tools and hoes. Some are more useful than others and it is difficult to make absolute recommendations. I suggest you try some of the weeding tools yourself and see which ones work for you. Then when you find a weeding tool that you like, guard it with your life, it’s your friend in the garden.
The picture above shows one of my new weeding tools, a Cobrahead Short Handle that I got for Christmas. It’s next to a dwarf columbine, Aquilegia flabellata ‘Cameo Mixture’. I gave this tool a good work out today and I’m keeping it, guarding it with my life. It’s great for weeding.
I used it like a little hand hoe and roughed up a bunch of grass that’s growing where I didn’t want it, and it made it easier to pull out that grass. I also found it worked well getting up under dandelions and thistles so I could pull them out with a “reasonable” amount of the roots.
Follow the shade and the rain. If your schedule allows for it, weed in the shade whenever you can, if the area you are weeding is indeed ever in shade. And we all know that weeding is easier right after a rain when the ground is wet, but not sopping wet. If you haven't had rain in awhile, water, then weed.
You’ll be a happier gardener and have a happier life in the long run if you just accept weeding as something you will always be doing. So make the best of weeding, embrace it, and have some fun while you are doing it.