Alan Titchmarsh shares advice on tackling weeds
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Weeds are undoubtedly unsightly, but don’t be put off if they take over areas in your garden on occasion. Certain weeds will flourish depending on the weather and soil conditions. Some are annual varieties, such as hair bittercress and chickweed, and have a one-year lifespan that ends with them setting seeds for the following generation. Other weed varieties, like dandelions, are perennials which means they have a lifespan longer than one year, and this kind is best eradicated by going straight to the root. Some trees can be classed as weeds as well, if they start growing in unwanted places. Hollies and horse chestnuts have tough roots that can be hard to dig out once well established.
When to start weeding your garden
There are five different times and methods that are optimum for success when weeding the garden.
Before the weeds germinate
If you have time to weed, it’s best to get started before they even show up.
Agitating the soil with a stirrup hoe, wire weeder or other effective hand tool can stop seeds as they germinate and save you tonnes of effort in the long run.
A quick run through the garden once every couple of days will save you time, and agitating the top layer of soil disrupts germination and exposes weed seedlings to the sun, effectively killing them.
In the morning
Given the option, the best time of the day to get weeding is in the morning, as the UV rays from the sun can damage any exposed weed roots.
UV rays will also help stop the spread of plant diseases that can often occur when weeding.
On a sunny day
Weeding in the rain might seem easier because the soil is looser, but you’re actually much better off waiting for a hot and dry day.
Not only will weeds left in the field re-root when aided by the rain and damp, but also this kind of climate facilitates the spread of disease.
Do it in short bursts
While weeding is an arduous chore for most, don’t put it off until you have to spend a good several days hacking through the growth.
Work away at it in short bursts throughout the week and the season, tackling one bed at a time instead of trying to weed the whole garden in one afternoon.
Keeping it short will stop you from getting burned out and giving up.
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Before the weeds go to seed
While it’s not always possible to catch the weeds before they germinate, you should aim to catch them before they seed.
As irritating as one weed is, seeding will multiply your problem by dozens and make the issue much worse.
That’s what happens when weeds go to seed, so try and catch them before it happens.
The best way to get rid of weeds
Killing weeds once they appear can be easily done using a hoe or speciality weed cleaner, but really, the best way to get rid for good is to prevent.
One of the most effective and cheap ways to prevent weeds growing is to cover them up.
No sunlight combined with no room to grow will avoid weeds growing.
Mulching is a common method of doing this when the weeds are growing, and can improve soil health at the same time.
Common natural mulches include cardboard, newspaper and straw as these will start breaking down over a few months and add nutrients to your soil while doing it.
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