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Weeding Advice for the August Garden

Have you noticed what a good show the weeds are putting on this year? The wet, warm summer we’ve so far had has encouraged growth and weeds have just loved it. So, what’s to be done about them? Very simply, weeds are uninvited guests in the garden. They can quickly take over at this time of year, so it’s important to keep on top of them as they compete for light, space and moisture with other plants.

Annual weeds 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 toolhead 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 – a job for a dry day.

hands in gardening gloves holding some weeds

Perennial weeds are trickier to deal with – they are the criminals that pop up year after year, as well as sowing seed. Common culprits are dandelions, ground elder, bindweed, brambles, nettles and couch grass.  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. Use a hand fork or trowel to dig out the whole plant, leaving none of the root behind.

If you have an area in your garden that is badly overgrown with weeds and very little else will grow, consider covering the area for a growing 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.

a garden tool hand fork

Having said all that, we’re being encouraged to embrace ‘weeds’ more these days for the benefits they can bring to wildlife. So, if, like me, you haven’t been able to keep up with removing them this year, you could congratulate yourself on being a wildlife friendly gardener… and, if they start to dominate too much, put it on the list of jobs to do in the September garden!

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