Gardening: The ‘best method’ to remove ‘unsightly’ weeds – expert tips

Gardeners’ World shares tip for removing weeds from a path

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Some gardeners opt for herbicides – often known as weed killers – to eliminate garden weeds, but there are a range of alternative natural methods which can be used. The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has suggested some preventative measures gardeners can adopt, which avoid the use of any chemicals.

Annual and perennial weeds

There are two main types of weeds, an annual and perennial.

Perennial weeds return each year, so they must be dug out at the root – either by hand or with a border fork.

Care should be taken the roots of surrounding plants aren’t disturbed during the process.

Annual weeds only grow once a year, so can be pulled up by hand. 

Weed seedlings

A garden hoe can be an effective tool for targeting weed seedlings. The RHS advised on running the tool over and between the soil. 

Ideally, this technique should be carried out during a dry day with a light wind, so the seedlings can dry out on the surface of the soil and are less likely to re-root.

A range of tools can be used for removing weeds between paving stones and paths. 

The RHS suggested using a weeding knife, which is designed with a hooked end, to target weeds. Other tools can be used, including a weeding fork, block paving knife and a razor hoe.

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In areas where garden weeds grow rapidly, cutting the unwanted plants to ground level can help to weaken them. A strimmer or sickle-type weeder can be effective tools to use.

Praising the benefits of using manual tools for weeding, gardening expert Callum Maddock from, said: “The best method for removing unsightly weeds from your garden is using a trowel or a long blade, as this will help lift up any deep-rooted weeds. 

“When doing this, make sure you remove everything, including the roots. You should then fill the space with compost, making sure to push it deep into the hole where the weed was positioned. 

“Grass seed should then be placed on top, along with more compost, to cover up the patch.”

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Applying heat

A flame gun, or blow torch, can be used to target weeds which have dry foliage, either on driveways or between paving stones.

Organic mulches, such as wood chipping, bark and leaves, can be placed on top of weeds. The RHS advised keeping organic mulches topped up to a minimum height of between 10 and 15 centimetres. 

Edging boards can be applied to garden lawns and paths to control grass growth. 

A root barrier can be effective for suppressing the growth of perennial weeds and controlling invasive plants. 

After the weeds have been removed, a range of fabrics can be placed on top of the surface to control the regrowth of old weeds and prevent new ones from growing. 

Spun materials are lightweight and porous which enables water to penetrate through to the plant roots.

The RHS advised covering the fabric with mulch, gravel or bark, to provide an added layer of protection.

Woven materials can vary in durability and be used for short-term or long-term use. Although the fabric does not require an added layer of mulch, the material can fray. 

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