Cutting Weeds vs Pulling: Which Weeding Method Is Better?

Cutting weeds is quicker and easier than pulling weeds. But, cutting doesn’t remove the root system of the plant. So the weed might grow back. And you have to repeat the cutting process at regular intervals to keep your garden weed-free.

Pulling weeds can be harder work. But as long as you completely remove the roots and rhizomes, the job is done, and the weed cannot grow back.

Cutting weeds is more practical for larger areas of weed growth. And sometimes, successfully pulling weeds by hand may not be possible for weeds with deep and extensive root systems.

So which is better, cutting weeds vs pulling weeds?

The truth is, it depends. And in this article, we’ll take a look at when you might want to choose one over the other. And alternatives you can try if your weed control attempts don’t work at first.

Let’s dive in.

Does Pulling Weeds Get Rid Of Them?

When done correctly, pulling weeds is one of the most effective methods of weed control. The big advantage of pulling weeds by hand is that you can remove the entire root system from the soil. This prevents the weeds from growing back.

Failure to completely remove the roots can result in regrowth, as many weeds can grow from small pieces of roots and rhizomes that are left in the ground. And sometimes, it can be hard to tell if you’ve left any behind.

Other methods might require less work than pulling weeds by hand. But if they don’t remove or kill the roots, you will have to repeat the treatment regularly to keep the weeds under control.

Hand-pulling Tips

When pulling weeds out by hand, remember to use a good pair of gardening gloves. Some weeds have thorns and prickles on the stems and leaves that can cause injury if you’re not protected.

It’s also a good idea to pull the weeds when the soil is wet. If the soil is hard and dry, you can add some water yourself to make it easier to pull the weeds from the ground.

When hand-pulling, you should try to do it gently rather than yanking hard at the weed. A hard tug on the weed is more likely to make it snap at the base, leaving the roots in the ground.

What If The Weed Is Difficult To Pull Out?

To make it easier to remove weeds, consider using a weeding tool. You can use a garden spade to dig around and underneath the weed, making sure that you include all the roots. Then lifting or pulling the weed out becomes a lot easier.

Or you can use a corkscrew weeder. This specialized garden tool makes it easy to remove weeds with taproots, such as dandelions. All you need to do is screw the pointed end of the weeder into the soil around the weed and its taproot. Then lift the weed out of the earth.

If you can, try to pull weeds while they are young. The weeds are easier to remove as they haven’t established a fully mature and deep root system.

After you’ve pulled the weeds, don’t leave them lying on the ground. Some weeds can reroot from pieces of stem and rhizomes. Instead, put the weeds in a bag and carefully dispose of them.

Some people like to drop the weeds where they’ve pulled them. The weeds then release their nutrients back into the soil as they decompose. But you need to identify the weed first to make sure it can’t reroot. And check that the weed hasn’t already produced seeds.

Weeds being removed by hand

Is Pulling Weeds A Waste Of Time?

Some people are skeptical about pulling weeds. It can take a lot of time and effort. And the results can be disappointing if you don’t do it right. But, as long as you successfully remove all of the roots and rhizomes from the ground, then pulling weeds will not be a waste of your time.

Some weeds are easier to pull than others. Annual weeds, such as chickweed, often have shallow root systems that are easy to pull out of the ground.

But for perennial weeds with deep and extensive root systems, it can be almost impossible to remove all of the plant by hand. In this case, the weeds will continue to regrow. So you may be better off looking for an alternative method of weed control.

It can also be an impractical way to clear large areas of weeds. Pulling weeds can be very tiring. And if you have a large yard or field, it’s a difficult way of controlling weeds.

Cutting Weeds: Pros & Cons

Cutting weeds is usually quicker and easier than pulling weeds. But you need to use the right type of tool

A good tool for cutting weeds is a scuffle hoe. It has a long handle that allows you to stand while you work, so you don’t have the strain of bending over. And by running its sharp blade just under the surface of the soil, you can easily cut weeds down.

If the ground is even, you can use a hoe to clear a large area of weeds far quicker than by hand-pulling.

The drawback is that you aren’t removing the roots. So the weeds will often grow back. You have to watch the area to catch the weeds emerging again from the ground. And then repeat the cutting process each time the weeds reappear.

It’s helpful to cut the weeds while they are young. For one thing, it’s a lot easier to cut the plants. And by dealing with them quickly, you can prevent the weed from spreading seeds around your yard.

You also want to cut the weeds before they have a chance to produce leaves and start to photosynthesize. Why?

Because with repeated cuttings, you can exhaust the roots of the plant. And it will eventually stop growing and die.

What Should You Do If The Weeds Keep Coming Back?

If you have stubborn weeds that keep coming back despite your best attempts to remove them, then it may be time to consider an alternative approach.

Systemic herbicides kill weeds from the inside. They affect all parts of the plant, including the roots. And by killing the roots they stop the weed from regrowing.

It can take a couple of weeks for systemic weed killer to work. And you might need more than one application for the most stubborn weed species. But this is one of the easiest and most effective ways to control weeds. It’s also practical when dealing with large areas of weed growth.

Related: Do I Cut Weeds Before Spraying?


Can You Just Mow Over Weeds?

When deciding whether to pull weeds or mow them consider the type of weed. You can control some weed species with regular mowing. But many of them will adapt to the mowing and continue to spread.

Other good lawn care practices that encourage a thick and healthy lawn help to prevent weeds from becoming established. Set your mower height to a high level. And keep your lawn grass well fertilized.

Will Mowing Weeds Cause Them To Spread?

If you mow weeds while they’re still young, then it won’t cause weeds to spread. Mowing weeds that have already set seed may help seed dispersal. So you are better off cutting or pulling the weeds in a more controlled manner.

Is It Better To Weed Whack Or Pull Weeds?

It’s better to pull weeds if you don’t want them to grow back. Pulling weeds enables you to remove the roots. A weed whacker will help you trim the weeds. But they will often regrow, so regular maintenance is required. But it’s usually quicker and easier to cut weeds with a weed whacker rather than removing them all by hand.

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