Weeding Therapy: Good For The Garden And The Gardener

An unexpected rainstorm this evening left another half inch of rain on the garden and kept me from going outside after work for an extended session of weeding therapy.

Have you heard of or tried weeding therapy? If not, you should really try it. It’s good for both the garden and the gardener in so many ways!

For the garden, weeding therapy is all about getting rid of the plant thugs that are stealing nutrients, water and space from the non-weed plants. For the gardener, weeding therapy is all about the satisfaction of getting rid of the plant thugs that are stealing nutrients, water and space from the non-weed plants while at the same working through all the problems of the garden and life in general.

With enough sessions of weeding therapy, not only will the garden look a lot better, but the gardener will also have a better outlook on the garden and life in general. It is a win-win situation for both.

There are many ways to engage in weeding therapy. Some gardeners prefer to hire it out for others to do it for them. This is perfectly acceptable, although overall results for the gardener may not be as good, but they still get the benefit of seeing the garden improve after the weeding.
Some gardeners like to engage in a little weeding therapy every day. If a gardener has the time every day, this is also perfectly acceptable, though it might be viewed by some as a tiny bit obsessive.

My preferred method of weeding therapy is to let the weeds get a good head start.

My preferred method of weeding therapy is to do it in longer, less frequent sessions. First I do macro-weeding, then I do micro-weeding, and finally I finish with preemptive weeding. This three phased approach saves time in the long run, helps to organize what can often be a daunting task, and provides ample time to solve all one’s problems.

Here are some simple instructions on how I do weeding therapy using this three phased approach.

First, I make a quick pass through the flower bed, or vegetable bed, and pull out any weed I can grab in my gloved hands and pull out. This is macro weeding. I’m getting rid of the obvious weeds, quickly pulling them out and tossing them aside. I don’t worry about the smaller weeds that I can’t just pull out ‘glove-handed’. I focus on the big, obvious weeds.

Once the macro-weeding is done, I return to the flower beds with a hand tool or two to hoe out the smaller weeds that I can’t really grasp and to dig out those pesky tap-rooted weeds, like dandelions, that would grow back tomorrow if at least some of the roots weren’t dug out. This is micro-weeding.

Finally, once the micro-weeding is done, I go back through and practice preemptive weeding by mulching the flower bed or path with a good layer of my favorite mulch. Right now my favorite mulch is pine bark mulch, the little pieces not the big nuggets, but I reserve the right to change my mind.

As an experienced weeder, the act of weeding is an almost automatic practice now that doesn’t require a lot of thought as to whether a plant is a weed or not. This allows me to think about other things during weeding therapy, like, well, other things. I’m thinking about how to solve problems in and out of the garden, dreaming up new ideas for in and out of the garden, and making lists in my head of what I want to do in and out of the garden.

Sometimes, if I’m on the ball with my weeding therapy, I take the time to write down some of these solutions, ideas, and lists to follow up on later. If I don’t, I may never think of them again. They are lost in the garden like a particular Cape Cod Weeder that I can't seem to find.

I hope this rain stops so that I can go to my weeding therapy session tomorrow. (And after reading this post, you probably do, too.) Maybe I’ll find my weeder or maybe I’ll solve some great mystery? Or both? At the very least, the garden will look better, and I’ll enjoy it more.

(Note: some gardeners like to resort to herbicides to avoid weeding therapy. I do not endorse this type of activity except in the most dire of circumstances which involve poison ivy or field bindweed. And then, only if those weeds are completely out of control.)


Unknown said…
Weeding is great therapy.
And, now I've added cabbage worm hunting (squashing) therapy to my treatment plan. I resisted at first, but oh so good for me! Now with the population down, even just the hunt is good. Send the rain this way, if needed.
Town Mouse said…
One might add a warning that problems might arise. Some weeders find themselves pulling weeds out of beds and pots at doctors offices, shopping centers, and other gardens. Not recommended. Weeding therapy should be performed only between consenting adults and gardens.
Karyn said…
I sometimes neglect the house entirely and spend whole days outside pulling weeds. I get to feeling guilty about it because i enjoy it so much.
Jan said…
Caro, there are some areas of my garden where I need to do some serious weed therapy. I like your three stage method.

Always Growing
Renaissance said…
Hope there was enough rain so that you could save on the watering!
I am one of those "daily" weeders. I am out there daily so I tend to pull weeds daily. Now the get on your knees, squat until you crawl type weeding is done only ever once in a while. I agree that weeding is a meditation. It feels so good to get an area weeded.
Kathy said…
I sometimes bring a clipboard out with me just so I can jot down thoughts and ideas as they occur to me while weeding. I love weeding on a cool day with moist soil.
Holly said…
"Some gardeners prefer to hire it out for others to do it for them."

ACK! How can someone miss this opportunity?! Oh my. I love the weeding. I don't care if it's little teeny tiny weedlings that I mow over with a hoe, or big humongous weeds I have to dig out.

I would never allow someone else that pleasure!
Laura said…
My husband knows to leave me alone when I'm weeding!
It's amazing how well I can think while I'm weeding. Probably because no one else in my family wants to do it and it's so quiet being out there alone.
I have a slightly different weeding strategy. I pull the easy to remove weeds every day, as I see them. This works best with things like newly sprouted Buckthorn & Maple seedlings. For the tap-rooted stuff, I wait until after a good rain, when it is easier to get out the whole root, and do a huge weeding session. Weeding is great for taking out your frustrations.
Rose said…
It rained all day yesterday, and today it's hot and humid, plus I have a minor stomach bug, so my therapy sessions have been put on hold for two days. I think I'd better schedule an early morning session tomorrow, before the thugs get out of control.
I do much of my writing as part of weed therapy. I endorse it fully, and I'm sure Dr. Hortfreud would too. Really good info presented in a lively manner, Carol.~~Dee
Unknown said…
And don't forget, a sprayer full of round-up is a Godsend! I have walks and gravel drive that are constantly popping up weeds! I agree, housework later....Garden forever!
Weeding is great therapy for all the reasons you mention, plus if you have a particularly horrible boss or co-worker you can yank them out of the ground symbolically many many times, thus improving your all around mood. Squashing cabbage loopers and asparabus beetles also work very well for this therapy.

My own weeding style is the OCD sort, I am out there every day and I use all three styles of weeding.

I do not use roundup for weeding anything. We have tried using a weeding torch for pathways and it works pretty well, but actually pulling the weeds physically is really the most effective way to get rid of weeds, in my humble opinion.

The extra added benefit of regular weeding is you can remove the weeds before they make more seeds and eventually, if you keep putting mulch down and try not to disturb the soil too much in between you wind up with quite a lot less weeds. This has proven to be true in the vegetable garden, where we have very little weeding to do as a general rule. And the mulch makes it so much easier to pull up the tap rooted ones, too.
Mary said…
I enjoy weeding also and consider it therapy. I also prefer long sessions that make me sweat. When the weeds are smiling at me and beginning to look like shrubs, it's time.

Carol, I thought of you this evening when I published my "garden" post. LOL!
Kylee Baumle said…
Absolutely, weeding is therapy for me. I do a little each day and I've never found it to be a daunting task, even with as much gardens as we have. During the rainy season, like NOW, I HAVE to stay on top of things, because it can quickly get out of hand.

I've solved many a problem while weeding and deadheading in the garden. I just love doing both, I really do. It's relaxing to me.
Weeds? What weeds? I've got so many plants in my small urban garden that I don't have room for weeds :-)
I am always appalled when a giant weeds escapes my 'macro-weeding' and makes it into my 'micro-weeding'. It's insulting.
Carrie said…
Well, yes I do love a bit of weeding therapy but then again my whole gardening experience is therapy. I don't know if you've read the essay I wrote on Ecotherapy and how it's helping my depression and anxiety here's the address. http://allotmentherapy.blogspot.com/ Weeding and such has saved my life (literally).
Weeping Sore said…
Any time spent outdoors is therapy enough for me. I suppose I should be grateful that I don't have such lush weeds because there's not enough rain for even natives to flourish these days.
Matron said…
I just get so frustrated with chickweed. it just breaks off so easily and the roots are so hard to get rid of too. Not theraputic for me, I'd pay someone else to do it if I could. Grrrr
Carol said…
Great Post on weeding therapy... only wish I had not been so zealous with mine in between the rain! My shoulder is not letting me forget how hard I worked it... weeding in my garden is impossible... so I have begun using scissors! I can relate to losing tools in the garden and even a champagne glass that I love... always needing to put something down somewhere "safe" but then never finding it again! Hoping we all get some sunshine that chooses to stay awhile.
HappyMouffetard said…
Weeding is great therapy, but somehow all my weeding seems ot be macro weeding. Great post!
Diana said…
Carol -- It is therapy, isn't it? I dread it, but it's so cathartic to get out there and sweat (we always sweat here - 101 or 102 today), think about the state of the world and cuss at the weeds (instead of some human!) I love that line about letting the weeds get a good head start! My goal right now is to get every bed weeded once before company comes on July 2. (I have lots of beds and lots of weeds,too) Cross your fingers!