The Paradox of Weeding

Boltonia getting ready to bloom - Not weeds!
There is a paradox of weeding, a statement that seems to be contradictory but is oh-so-true.

The more you weed, the less you have to weed.

Let that soak in of a minute, or go pull a couple of weeds and think about it.

I seem not to understand this paradox, and don't weed as often as I should so when I do weed, I have a lot of weeds to pull out, and they are big ones.

But if I were to weed more often, I would have fewer weeds to pull when I weed.  And it would take less time.

Instead, every summer it seems like I get busy or its hot, or I don't have the right kinds of clothes on, or there are mosquitoes, or what other excuses do I have?

So I don't weed for a few maybe four or five weeks and the weeds know this and they get bigger and braver and sassier and then weeding becomes a big job.

That means the opposite paradox is true as well.  The less you weed, the more you have to weed.

All this came to me while I was weeding, of course. Because when I weed, I think.  I think about weeds and gardens and gardeners and gardening plans.  I wonder what it would be like to have less to weed.

I guess the only way to find out what that would be like to have fewer weeds would be to weed more.   Because the more you weed, the less you have to weed.

Truly, a paradox of weeding.

Go do some weeding and think about it.


  1. Just 15 minutes per day. This is what I tell myself. It seems to work as you say.

  2. I compelled to pull weeds, even tiny ones, whenever I see them. I don't want my plants competing for soil nutrients!

  3. Actually, the more I weed, the more I believe I need to weed; disturbing the soil around here is like a weeding invitation to the neighboring Visigoths: You think only Ambrose and his wife Euphorb might show up, but instead, with them come all the crabby cousins, vining vixens, and horrid Helen. The best way to weed here is never to start.

  4. I pull them out when I see them, but sometimes I miss them and then they are huge! LOL!

  5. But Carol, don't you think to fill your garden so full of plants that there is little room for weeds? I didn't actually come up with this strategy, I just fell into it. After collecting too many plants for my space, and stuffing new plants into every single open space, I discovered that now there is little room for weeds to sneak in. Now I just pretend that it was my intention all along! So now I go about bragging about how everyone should do as I do, and plant so thickly that weeds can find no purchase. And aren't I just smug when I do so?


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