Time to Remove Weeds! What You Need to Know


Letting weeds get out of control is a common mistake for beginning gardeners. Learn why you need to remove them, the best time of year to weed your garden and the right tools to make the process easy.


By the time the weather starts to warm, your plants should be growing great. Unfortunately, so will the weeds. Once the days get longer and the weather heats up, it’s time to get garden weeds under control so they don’t overwhelm your flower beds and choke out your plants.

Removing weeds may feel overwhelming when you begin. But, take the time to do this garden task well the first time, and you can keep the weeds in check and reap the rewards of your hard work for the rest of the summer.

Here’s what to know before getting started.

Time to remove weeds! What You Need To Know
Why Remove Weeds from the Garden

Most plant lovers agree that weeds are a constant nuisance. Every square inch of garden space contains weed seeds lying in wait for the right conditions to sprout.

If you disturb the top few inches of soil, you’ll bring these weeds to the surface and spring them into action. Within a few weeks, they will sprout into an eruption of unwanted seedlings that crowd out your plants.

At first glance, these tiny weeds might not seem like a significant concern. They start small and barely take up space in your garden bed. But, give them time to get established, and they will outcompete everything you’ve planted. That’s because weeds have evolved to thrive in almost any growing condition and need very little to thrive.

So, if your garden is subject to cold, excess heat, drought conditions, or other growing complications, chances are your plants will suffer, but you will still grow a healthy crop of weeds.

When to Remove Weeds

The ideal time to get rid of weeds in the garden is when they are large enough to grasp but too small to hurt your plants. For most species, this is when they are between 1-6 inches tall (2.5-15 cm).

Don’t wait until the weeds tower over your plants, as they will shade them out and siphon away water and nutrients, so they end up stunted.

Time to remove weeds! What You Need To Know
Strategies for Removing Weeds

The best way to remove weeds depends on the setup of your garden. Follow these instructions based on your growing conditions.

In Raised Beds

Raised beds tend to have fewer weeds than other gardening systems because the growing medium isn’t in direct contact with the ground where weed seeds dwell. Likewise, the potting soil typically used to fill them is usually sterile and weed seed free.

Remove weeds by hand whenever you see them to keep the bed clean. Take care to grab each weed by the base around the ground line and pull up slowly so that the roots come free of the soil without snapping off.

Consider using hand tools like a claw rake or hook neck weeder to make this easier. Digging knives like a hori-hori will help to dislodge stubborn roots.

Time to remove weeds! What You Need To Know
In Garden Rows

While it’s possible to weed large garden rows on your hands and knees, you will save time and your back by using cultivation tools instead. Consider the following:

Time to remove weeds! What You Need To Know
In Mulched Beds

Weeds that sprout in mulched beds tend to have strong taproots because they needed to work harder to break through the woody material and reach the sunlight. Make sure you pull the entire root out of the ground by pushing the mulch temporarily aside, grabbing the weed by the base, and pulling upwards. If the root doesn’t budge, use a hand fork to loosen the soil around the stem.

You can save your knees by getting a foam gardening mat to kneel on.

Time to remove weeds! What You Need To Know
11 Ways to Prevent Weeds for the Long Term

Removing garden weeds is a constant challenge, but taking these steps can reduce their spread so you can more easily stay on top of them.

If you want fast results without putting in manual labor, consider spraying a foliar herbicide over your garden bed to kill off weeds quickly. They should brown and die within a day or two. However, most of these sprays will kill every plant they touch, so use them carefully and only as a last resort.

Time to remove weeds! What You Need To Know