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If possible, weed after it rains.

You have a few (or many!) weeds you intend pull in your garden or lawn? Dandelions, plantains, thistles, etc.? Whatever it is you intend to remove, remember that it will be easier to do when the soil is moist rather than dry. Roots just seem to lose their grip in moist soil and slide right out if you pull on them steadily. Plus you’ll be more likely to get the entire root rather than seeing the plant snap off at its base or just below the soil (a common problem when the soil is dry).

That’s why the ideal time to  hand weed is a day or two after a good rain. Or water the soil deeply and then wait a few hours before weeding. It can make weeding so much more effective!

The Right Tool

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Dandelion weeder at work. Images: Lee Valley Tools

The best-known tool for weeding is the dandelion weeder, also called dandelion digger. It looks like a screwdriver with a forked tip. (And yes, you can use a flat-blade screwdriver to replace it and still get pretty good results.) In spite of its name, it’s not just for dandelions, but will work on almost any weed, especially those with long tap roots. Just insert the tool almost vertically into the ground, pressing the two teeth against the base of the plant, then press down to create a leverage effect. You’ll find weeds will practically jump out of the ground!

For more information on weeding tools, including more mechanical varieties, read The Ultimate Dandelion Weeder.

A Final Step

One step too many gardeners miss is that pulling weeds is not enough: you have to prevent them from growing back.

In a flower or vegetable bed, that’s simple enough: just cover any holes left by weeding with mulch. That will keep new weed seeds that wander in from germinating.

If you’re hand weeding a lawn, the situation is a bit different. Before you finish, fill any hole left in the ground with topsoil, then sprinkle a few grass seeds on top and water. That way you can be sure that grass will grow back, not weeds.20160615A

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

3 comments on “The Best Time to Weed…

  1. I dug so many weeds last week, I’m sitting with an ice pack on my back while I read this. 🙁

  2. Pingback: What to Do About Plantain in a Lawn? – Laidback Gardener

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