Weeding borders

Ah Weeding, only one letter differentiating wedding and weeding, both often a time consuming adventure, but weeding you should do, weddings not obligatory, but make sure it includes Scottish grown flowers if you do!

I want to give you a few weeding tips.  This is not the time to tell you that you should have a weeding plan that started a few months ago.  If you didn’t start then, then please listen carefully to the first tip:

1    Go out now and do some weeding!  If it is raining or cold wrap up, you must not sit in the warmth of your home thinking that spring has not arrived yet as it is too cold, or because you can’t see much growing in the beds, there are no weeds.  Weeds are clever, they get in there first.  Whilst you are watching the next boxset online, the seeds have already germinated, they are not fussy, sulky attention seeking creatures.  They get going as soon as the weather is right, for them.  A few hours now is time saved.  You do not want a “one year’s seed, seven years weed” issue in a few months.

2  This is the time of year when you can get to the back of the borders and find the goosegrass already germinated at the base of your shrubs.  You can pull back the fallen leaves and find one or two inches of willow herb.  Buttercups are up and away before many of the surrounding plants so are easily distinguishable from the geraniums and geums.  Get them out!  Soon you won’t be able to see where these weeds are lurking and only find out when you see the seedheads.

3   Those tiny seedlings you see on the ground – are you sure they will be a lovely self seeded plant?  I would be suspicious if the plants round about are slow to grow but you have a nest of seedlings.  If you are not sure, come back in no more than 2 weeks and check them again.  Easier to deal with when small.

4  If you are really pushed for time, prioritise.  If you don’t have time to systematically weed the whole garden over the next few weeks make sure you do walk round and weed out any annuals that are just starting – from all the beds.  If you are lucky enough to be on dry soil – hoe them out when they are still small.  Or get on your hands and knees to inspect everywhere!  This way I notice the ash saplings too… If you must, leave the perennial weeds until you can tackle them later e.g. buttercups will spread a little but won’t seed round your garden.  I find it is better to do a patch of perennial weeds throughly rather than half heartedly do a large area.  This means that if you have an infested patch, you could leave this as it can’t get much worse (!) but make sure other areas don’t end up in a similar state.  Then you can decide how to tackle the bad patch.  You might want to cover it up and forget about it for a few months to make the job easier in the end.  A very thick mulch in the border will reduce the work for you.  But only if you go back to it this season and finish the job.

5   Any bare patches cover with something.  Black membrane or carpet are ugly, (but so is weed infested bed) but work well on a large patch like a veg bed.  Smaller patches could have a very thick mulch (4-6inches) covering of any organic matter you can get hold of.

6  And that weeding plan – well start in September and keep going!  Seriously, a good check for weeds in the autumn and then start looking and weeding again (depending on the weather) from January/February onwards.  If all else fails make sure you are on top of the weeds in March/April and you will only be maintaining a clean patch then, not starting with weeds that have spread feet in height and spread.  It is also a good way to ease back into the gardening year with a little weeding.

7  Dust off the deckchairs and hammock because you will know have time to relax in that in the dog days of summer, rather than sweating in the borders with your weeds.


Spot the buttercups in this patch of geranium

geranium and buttercups


“If you go down to the garden today

you’ll be sure of a great surprise

‘cos every weed that every there was, will be gathered there for certain because

…they have already germinated and spread!”


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