Twelve Tips For Simpler Weeding

Let’s talk weeding. I know it’s not sexy and it’s not a part of gardening that most of us enjoy, but, like doing the dishes, life’s a little better once the job is done.

I grew up in the midwest where weeds don’t get much more than 6-8 inches high. Imagine my horror when I moved out to the Pacific Northwest and discovered weeds can grow as high as my chest. If there’s a place more conducive to weed growth, I don’t want to know about it.

You may think you don’t need me to tell you how to weed.  But when I was starting out gardening, I made things tougher than they needed to be. Over the last twelve years I’ve developed some pretty good strategies to make weeding as painless as possible.

12 Tips for Weeding the Garden

1. Put on your grubby clothes. Too often I think I’ll just do a few minutes worth of weeding while still in my good office clothes. It never ends well.

2. Buy nice gardening gloves – more than one pair. I’ve found if I leave them outside, one of the neighborhood cats runs off with one of them in the middle of the night.

3. Also, if there are little people in your life, buy a few little pairs with ducks or Dora on them so you can have a helper. It’s surprisingly easy to teach kids the difference between weeds and plants.

4. Wear long sleeves to protect yourself from scrapes and pokes. Also, a big sun hat is nice.

5. Use the two receptacle system. Have a small box or five gallon pail right next to you, then once it’s full, empty it into your large yard waste bin. This is less getting up and down and gives you a sense of accomplishment. Avoid creating large piles of weeds to be picked up later. It takes too long to happen. In fact, it may never happen.

6. Pull the weeds before they go to seed. I’ve heard that weed seeds can stay around for seven years and I have no reason to doubt it based on my own struggles.

7. Wait for a good rain fall. In Portland, it’s not a long wait. Weeds come out much easier after a good soak and you’re more likely to get them by the roots, so they won’t come back.

8. Get a small hand rake for small weeds and those that need prying in order to get the tap root.

9. Change positions frequently. Keep your back straight and your core muscles tight to prevent strain and injuries.

10. Don’t squat for long periods of time. I don’t know how to put this delicately…squatting can cause hemorrhoids.

11. Get your iPod and some headphones. Nothing makes the time go quickly like good tunes.

12. Mulch!  Once you’ve got the weeds out, mulch your beds so the little bastards don’t come back. My favorite method is landscape fabric with a thick bark dust on top. You can also use cardboard, leaves, straw, hazelnut shells etc.

Who else has good weeding tips? Are you keeping on top of the weeds this year?


*Don’t forget to enter our cookbook giveaway this week. Visit 250 Home Preserving Favorites and leave a comment to enter. Contest open until Thursday July 12th, 2012. 


  1. Who would have thought that you would be the Queen o’ Weeds? Great advice.

  2. I’m with you with the shock of how big weeds grow out here. It’s insane. That’s why I don’t remember weeding so much as a child. I like the headphones. I need to do that. And the big container to hold them. Also, sunscreen. I’ve been burned on my shoulders twice already this summer. And the chicks are actually helpful. Small area, but it helps. Great tips! And I love the hemorrhoid warning. Good to know. :)

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