Weeding 101: How to Weed Your Garden

by Chris Lambton

I'm as good as anyone else at procrastinating on my chores and weeding certainly falls into the chore category in my book. Yes, I love gardening, but weeding isn't exactly what I would call "a pleasure." But over the years, despite my inclination to procrastinate, I've learned to not put off weeding. Because I realized, the longer you let those powerful, unwanted plants grow, the harder they become to take care of.

Weeding 101: Get'm While They're Young

That's why in this article, we'll discuss:

The upside of my understanding? These days, just even thinking about having to weed harder and more often is usually enough to get me out in the garden, with the right tools for the job, taking care of weeds as they come before they take over (and take over do they ever!).

Want to get ahead of the weeds in your garden? If you're looking for tips on how to pull weeds, here are some of my most successful weeding ideas that give me a head start, keep this chore to a minimum and in some instances, actually even let me get ahead of the curve.

Why is Weeding the Garden Important?

You may think that weeding is done purely for aesthetic reasons, intended to keep your garden and yard looking pretty. But in reality, these aggressive plants are invasive thieves.

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Weeds tend to grow quickly, and they ultimately compete with other plants for space, moisture and nutrients. You plant your garden or yard carefully, thinking of spacing and sun, so when a destructive, thirsty weed enters the picture, you likely didn't account for water and space that would be sucked up by your plants' new neighbor. Even in terms of grass, when weeds pop up, they're fighting your lawn for the water it so desperately needs, particularly in the hot summer months.

Weeding Tips & Tricks

Weeding may not be top on your list of fun-Saturday-morning-tasks (I know it's not on mine), but if you use a few of these tips and tricks I've learned along the way, I promise you it can be less painful and quicker than you're probably imagining.

Tip 1

Weed After Rain (or Water)

Wet or moist soil is soft and loose, so if you plan to pull weeds, doing so after a good rain or a healthy watering will make the chore much easier. Be careful walking on your wet dirt, though. Because it's soft from the moisture, you want to make sure you're not compacting the dirt down as you walk through your garden, which will make your task more difficult. You may want to lay down several pretty large, wide pavers or steppingstones to give you a path to walk along as you work.

Tip 2

Choose the Right Tools

Having the right tools for weeding at your fingertips makes it a much, much faster job. And, having tools specific for your needs with you while you work means you'll have an easy way to pull weeds that's more efficient and less tiring. Not to mention, keeping your tools on hand means you eliminate having to walk back and forth to your garage or shed multiple times, which is a huge plus.

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For the basics

For basic upkeep and maintenance, I never hit the dirt without my Fiskars garden knife. It’s the perfect go-to tool, whether you're digging up or loosening soil, or lifting and removing root balls.

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For ergonomic ease

The Fiskars stand-up weeder has four claws, helping you save your back and your time. If you have an invasion of dandelions, you'll wonder how you ever lived without this handy upright tool that removes all of these annoying lawn-invaders, right down to the root—so weeding lawn areas can be quick and easy. The Fiskars Big Grip weeder lets you dig and lift in one fell swoop, and it's my go-to tool when dealing with pesky thorned or thistly plants.

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Tip 3

Leave No Roots Behind!

Garden weeding will last longer and be much less infuriating if you get the entire plant, root and all. Just ripping and tearing the tops off your weeds isn't going to do you any favors in the long run. Most weeds have the power to regenerate readily from left-behind roots—sometimes stronger than before. Use your Big Grip Knife or your Big Grip Weeder when you're working in softer, loamy beds. You might even be able to make uprooting those weeds into a game for your kids.

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Tip 4

Mulch as You Go

As you pull your weeds, have some quality composted mulch or wood chips on hand to spread over your newly exposed soil right away. Pulling weeds often disturbs buried weed seeds, and that disturbance can bring seeds up to the surface where sunlight exposure may awaken them, leading to germinating more weeds – which means more work!

By spreading a few inches of mulch over the area you just finished weeding using a Fiskars garden fork, seeds won't have as much of a chance, but any powerful perennials under the soil will still burst right on through. Always remember to smooth out your mulch with a Fiskars garden rake to ensure a professional look.

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Tip 5

Clean Up

One of the hardest aspects of weeding for many gardeners is the last part of the job – the clean-up. You're tired, you're likely hot and you just want to be done for the day. But making this part of the job as you go means you won't have to walk through a second time, repeating your steps to catch all the unwanted garden-visitors you've just pulled.

Dragging along a stand-up Fiskars kangaroo bag that's lightweight and sturdy is well worth your time. It won't collapse on you and makes collecting weeds as you move through your yard a snap.

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Tip 6


Rather than setting lofty and unrealistic goals like "I'll pull every weed in the garden this weekend," setting smaller, achievable goals like spending an hour weeding a specific area, an hour mulching over it and a half hour cleaning up makes the task at hand seem more manageable.

Once you meet that goal, take on another small area and chip away, or take the rest of the day off to relax in your garden and enjoy it. Next weekend or after work on a long summer evening, you can another hour or two out there doing just a bit at a time. This way, you're able to recharge and stay on top of those chores.

Once you've gone all the way through, you can circle back and repeat the process. A little trick I use is spot-checking. I scan every time I'm watering, pulling any weeds I see as I walk through my yard. I don't go crazy or spend a ton of time, but I do pull anything within eyesight any time I'm out there – this tactic cuts down on my actual time spent weeding – and believe me, the less time I'm weeding, the better!

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