How To Clear A Garden Full Of Weeds

Big weeding jobs are a daunting task.

They take time and effort. So it’s important to get it done right the first time.

Which means you need a good plan and the right preparation. So what are the best methods to use?

Let’s take a closer look at how to clear a garden full of weeds.

7 Ways To Clear A Garden Of Weeds

To get the best weeding results you might need to use more than one approach.

Fortunately, we’ve got 7 effective methods for you to try:

Doing It By Hand

One of the simplest and most effective ways of clearing weeds from your garden is to pull them out by hand.

The drawback is that it takes a lot of work. But it’s easier if the soil is wet and the weeds are still young. Just remember to wear gloves to protect your hands.

When pulling weeds by hand it’s very important to remove all of the plant. If you leave any part of the roots or rhizomes in the ground then the weed might re-grow. You can use a tool to help you dig out any leftovers.

And make sure you don’t leave the weeds lying on the ground after you remove them. Instead, collect them in a bag for disposal. Some weeds can re-root from the stem if left on the surface of the soil.

Digging them out

digging out weeds

To make weeding easier it’s a good idea to use a garden tool that’s designed for the job.

This can be a garden trowel or spade. Or you can get a weed puller that makes it more comfortable to clean up your garden. So you can remove entire weeds without having to bend down.

It’s Easy With A Trimmer

A quick way to clear your garden of weeds is to walk around it while using a trimmer.

It doesn’t take much effort to use. You just point it in front of you and cut a path as you walk, chopping the weeds at the stem.

It’s a lot easier than getting on your hands and knees to pull the weeds out yourself. But it won’t do as complete a job of getting rid of them. Why?

Because it doesn’t remove or kill the weed roots. So the plants will often regrow.

But if you’re happy to trim the weeds in your garden regularly then this isn’t a problem.

And once you’ve cut the weeds in your garden down to size, it’s easier to finish the job by digging up the roots with a tool.

You can also get metal brush cutter attachments for your trimmer. Turning it into one of the best tools for cutting down tall weeds with thick stalks.

Use A Hoe

woman hoeing weeds

One of the best ways of getting rid of weeds in your garden is also one of the most traditional: using a garden hoe.

You can get many different types. But a scuffle hoe is the best one for weeding.

To use it, you drag the blade through the top surface of the soil, slicing the stalks away from the roots.

It does need effort, particularly if your garden is overrun. But because it’s got a long handle, you can stay mostly upright while you work. Placing the smallest amount of strain on your back.

A hoe is a good choice for cutting down weeds on even ground. But it can be more difficult to use when the ground is uneven.

Use A Weed Torch

A propane weed torch is a good choice for quickly killing weeds with a minimum of effort.

The tool produces a short hot flame that incinerates any plants it touches. It can actually make the process of killing weeds fun, as you stroll around your overgrown garden directing the flame at them.

You need to be careful when using it because it will kill desirable plants as well. But it has the advantage of being very precise. Making it easy to use in tight spaces and nooks and crannies. And allowing you to kill difficult to reach weeds.

The other drawback of the week torch is that it doesn’t kill weeds to the root. And they will grow back again. So to keep the weeds away you need to use it regularly.

Chemical Weed Killer

Many people don’t like using chemical herbicides in their garden. But when all else fails it can be the best way to clear a large area of weeds.

Some weed killers are selective and won’t harm your grass lawn, flower beds, or shrubs. Instead they target broadleaf weeds and specific grassy weeds. This makes them easy to use around your yard.

The process is simple. You mix them with water in the tank of a top rated weed killer sprayer. Then walk around your garden spraying the weeds as you go.

If you choose a systemic weed killer, then you’ll kill the the weeds all the way down to the roots. Preventing them from re-growing.

After the weeds are dead, you can dig the roots out if you want.

For reducing the amount of work needed to clear a garden full of weeds chemical weed killers are an effective option.

Related: The Best Granular Weed Killers

Natural Weed Killer

You can also use natural weed killers to do the job.

Vinegar is a well-known herbicide used for organic weed control. But although it can help you kill lots of weeds it has some drawbacks.

Firstly, it kills all plants it comes into contact with. So you need precision when using it to make sure you don’t kill plants you want to keep.

Secondly, it doesn’t kill to the root so the weeds might still grow.

Table vinegar isn’t very effective as it’s not strong enough. Instead, you need to look for acetic acid solutions of about 20 to 30%.

Another natural alternative for killing weeds is d-limonene, which comes from citrus oil. This strips away the cuticle of the weeds causing them to quickly dehydrate and die.

But the same as vinegar, it kills all plants it comes into contact with.

You can see our roundup of commercially available natural herbicides in our guide to the best pet friendly weed killer.

Keeping The Weeds Away

Once you’ve cleared your garden of weeds, how do you stop them taking over again?

Here are some best practices and things you can try:

Weed Regularly

Weeds being removed by hand

Yes, keeping the weeds away means weeding regularly.

Take a look around your garden for new weeds that are starting to sprout. When they’re small and young removing them is much easier.

If you can, deal with them before they spread their seeds. If you leave it, it’s certain to create a bigger job in the future as the weeds start to take over again.

If seed dispersal has already taken place then it’s a good idea to use a pre-emergent herbicide. Try to identify the weed first so you know when the seeds are likely to germinate. Then you can time your application of the pre-emergent to prevent it.

The best times of year to use a pre-emergent are usually in the early spring and in the fall.

Cover Plants

At the end of the growing season, after you harvest your vegetables, you can try planting a cover crop such as barley, clover, or wheat.

These plants provide ground cover that will stop weeds from growing in the area. And they also give back to the soil.

Mulch

Man laying down mulch

You can also use a layer of mulch to cover exposed soil. This blocks the sunlight, inhibiting weed seeds from germinating. And it makes it harder for seeds to reach the soil when they land after dispersal.

Natural mulch also has the benefit of providing nutrients to your plants as it decomposes.

Use straw, wood chips, brown cardboard, or dead leaves, making sure that it’s at least an inch thick.

Prevent The Light

Another way of blocking sunlight from getting to the soil is to use landscape fabric. Or black plastic sheeting as a cheaper alternative.

By applying these to the ground between your plants you can make it more difficult for the weeds to germinate and grow. This reduces the amount of weeding you need to do in the future.

But it’s not infallible. Sometimes weeds can grow through landscape fabric. And if they do, it can be difficult to remove them.

Aerate The Soil

Lawn aeration

Most plants don’t grow well in compacted soil. They struggle to get the water, nutrients, and air they need.

But for some weeds, it’s not a problem. Particularly ones that grow deep roots.

While your plants struggle, there’s an opportunity for the weeds to take over.

Aerating the soil will help your plants to thrive. And prevent deep rooted weeds from invading your garden.

Reduce Open Garden Spaces

If you’ve got rich, well-draining soil, try to plant your plants close together. This provides less space for weeds to invade and will reduce the amount of weeding you have to do.

Don’t Water The Weeds

Watering the garden

Only provide as much water as your plants need and only to those that need it.

Some weeds, such as nutsedge, thrive in very wet soil. So if you over irrigate an area of your backyard you’re creating the conditions for an invasion.

Also try to avoid watering unplanted spaces such as paths and areas of gravel or pebbles. Otherwise you might find weeds sprouting up where they wouldn’t have done.

Trim Your Garden Edges

It’s not unusual to find weeds growing at your garden edges.

So it’s a good idea to keep these areas trimmed to cut down on the opportunity for weeds to spread.

Keep an eye on the edges of your lawn, garden beds, and vegetable garden. As well as around fence lines and posts.

You can also grow perennials around your garden edges to make it harder for weeds to become established.

Leave a Comment