Tips for Keeping Your Summer Garden Weed-Free
Weeding is a perennial problem. Very simply, weeds are uninvited guests in the garden who can quickly take over at this time of year. It’s important to keep on top of them, as they compete for light, space and precious moisture in the garden. There are two main sorts of weed. Annuals are in many ways the easiest to deal with; they normally reproduce by means of seeds and are best dealt with by hoeing.
The gardener’s best friend at this time of year is a hoe. There are several types available but my favourite is the Dutch hoe. It’s designed to push or pull through the soil to cut weeds just under the surface. Its tool-head is a loop of flat, sharpened strap metal. Once you’ve sliced off the top of the weeds, leave them on the surface to dry out in the sun, so this is a job for a dry day.
The second sort of weeds are perennials, which are trickier to deal with because as well as sowing seed they pop up year after year. Common culprits are Dandelions, Ground Elder, Bindweed, Brambles, Nettles, Couchgrass and Ivy, which can all be quite a problem.
It’s very important to remove the roots of these weeds or they will grow back, even if you leave a tiny bit in the ground. If you’re an organic gardener use a hand fork or trowel to dig out the whole plant, leaving none of the root behind.
If you don’t mind using chemicals in the garden, use liquid glyphosate to control these rogues. It’s readily available in garden centres. Use according to the manufacturer’s instructions on a still, dry day. These weed killers work through a systemic action, so they are absorbed into the root of the plant from the leaf. If you accidentally spray a neighbouring precious plant, you may kill it too, so use with caution.
If you have an area in your garden that is badly overgrown with weeds and very little else growing, consider covering the area for a season with an old carpet or sheets of black plastic pegged down. This stops the light getting through and will eventually kill all the weeds. It’s fairly drastic action because obviously it looks awful, but it will work well in the long term.