Weeding - a forgotten skill? Discuss ....

DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 42,870

Looking about me as I do, it appears to me that the skill of regular methodical weeding is often ignored by gardening programmes and magazines.  

You really do have to keep on top of weeding to give plants the best chance to grow well.

And on this board we're often asked to identify plants which turn out to be weeds and which I would have pulled out at the two-leaf stage or before.  Of course, being able to identify which are weeds and which are our seedlings or precious perennials is one of the quandries faced by new inexperienced gardeners.

Any ideas on this?

Gardening is cheaper than therapy, and you get tomatoes. 


  • figratfigrat Posts: 1,619
    Unfortunately I don't think experience can be fast tracked. Christopher Lloyd wrote ( in 'Succession Planting for Adventurous Gardeners') that he never pulled up a seedling until he could positively identify it - he was a great fan of self- seeders.

    I know for years I ruthlessly weeded what I thought was a patch of celandine - it was cyclamen hederifolium image . Probably those lessons learned by making mistakes are the ones best remembered! There are lots of resources available to new gardeners - books, the Internet, forums like this one - I suppose it depends on how keen the individual is to learn.
  • Gary HobsonGary Hobson Posts: 1,892

    I know what you mean about 'old-fashioned weeding'. I used to do that myself.

    In my view, a number of things have changed.

    Many 'gardeners' wouldn't be able to identify a weed. And even if they could, they wouldn't want to be bothered with such tedious faffing around. They believe that the easiest way of dealing with 'weeds' is by applying various herbicides - selective weedkillers, lawn 'improvers', glyphosphate, etc. This is what adverts on TV tell them.

    That TV advert for the Fiskars Weeding Tool carries an interesting and appealing message - that people should be able to do weeding, using a machine, while wearing their best clothes, and without bending down or getting dirty.

    There are also some intelligent arguments against weeding.

    There are some schools of thought which suggest that soil should not be left exposed - that it should be covered by something, preferably plants that you have chosen to grow - ground cover. Also, soil disturbance encourages weed germination. And does 'cultivation' actually improve the soil, or not. These are serious questions.

    I'm also becoming more aware of the places of indiviudal plants, including weeds, in the ecology of the garden. At one time I didn't give a thought to the essential role of nettles, or thistles, or fungi. Scientists still don't fully understand how all of these plants work, and what their particular functions are. Many plants that we still think of as 'weeds', presumably have some unique role, which we don't understand.

  • Matty2Matty2 Posts: 4,820

    I check garden nearly every day for 'flowering' weeds and pull them out. Some years ago in another house i carefully tended a really 'pretty' flower. Until my neighbour startd to complain about the amount of ground elder he was getting image 

    But that was lack of experience. A garden takes time and a great deal of knowlege that you pick up as you go along. Taking it slowly and so learning about your garden and its 'climate' etc do not seem to fit in with instant gardening that often the TV preaches. Weeding does help in understanding the garden  and if done reularly is not a chore

  • In a previous house I regularly used to pull out a troublesome weed only to find that when I missed one it grew into a lovely foxglove! Won't make THAT mistake again.
  • hello all! new here! cant say I find weeding therapeutic ha ha, but yes I find weeding

    is a must do job, but I suppose I fall into the ignorant catagory some what , I can recognise a weed such as mares tail a real pest but cant really put a name to all the little critters that if left will become big critters, I do get satisfaction of seeing a piece of ground thats kept free of unwanted growth, I am lucky to have an allotment and sometimes struggle to do all I should on it as I lead a busy life! thankfully I have a wife who is also keen to get down and dirty, but sometimes its just the same as teaching a wife to drive ha ha, can cause a few arguments,image Jim

  • LeggiLeggi Posts: 489

    I can't say I like weeding, I do it every now and then (probably once a month both at home and at my allotment) but generally I think unless a weed is really starting to compete with a flower that I want, I'll leave it. I suppose this has come from starting to grow a wild garden on an old lawn area and seeing the bees, butterflies and moths all enjoying feeding on the flowers there.

    But then again, whilst I don't enjoy it, there is nothing more satisfying than seeing neat rows of vegetables growing in lines at the allotment with nothing in between them after a day of hard work.

  • Caz WCaz W Posts: 1,353

    As one wise old gardener said "If you try to pull a plant up and it's a bit of a struggle then it's probably a weed, if it comes up easily its probably a precious plant" image


  • weeding .....!!!i literaly do acres but love or loathe it needs to be done when your veg are batteling for their positions in the flower borders ived learnt not to be so worried i love seeing self seeding babies appearing you can leave them or pot up plants for free so dont be too tidy!

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 42,870

    Self seeding garden plants that I want to grow are lovely - I've got loads of little cyclamen hederafolium popping up all over the place at the moment not to mention the foxgloves - that's why it's a skill that needs learning - I leave the little plants I want but weed out the baby groundsell, chickweed, dandelion, dog's mercury, soapwort, bindweed etc when they're tiny - that way the little self-seeded cyclamen get better growing conditions.

    Gardening is cheaper than therapy, and you get tomatoes. 
  • I don't get much in the way of weeds, the odd dandelion or rose bay willow herb. Used to get buttercups and clover, but have now disappeared. The nuisance plants in my garden are the creeping potentilla, herb Robert, soapworts. All pretty plants in their own right, but just go everywhere and get tangled up through plants.

    In general though I am fairly tolerant of weeds as long as there aren't too many. Everything has its place in the Eco system. I love to see a verge full of dandelions, they look so bright and cheery, such a lovely colour. The field behind us has rosebay willow herb which looks wonderful in flower, the white variety has become a garden plant nowadays. I guess it's back to the old say that a weed is just a plant in the wrong place!
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 42,870

    Oh yes, I've got wild areas where cow parsley, white and pink campion, herb Robert and celandine grow, and I let them blend into the borders too - and we're letting a patch of nettles grow in one corner - but I like to know what it is I'm allowing to grow.  I don't want to let weeds flourish and then seed or establish strong root systems in my flower beds that become a problem.  "One year's seeds = seven years' weeds"  someone said that!

    Gardening is cheaper than therapy, and you get tomatoes. 
  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 11,929

    Years ago, when I was a beginner gardener, I used to label everything I planted so that I knew it wasn't a weed. I weeded out was was growing between the labelled plants. Then I bought a book on gardening with a weed section and a book on wild flowers and learnt to identify them. There are so many varieties of plants that it's not easy and I never let anyone else weed my flower beds. I don't use weed killers in the flower beds, it's just as quick to dig weeds out anyway. Why fiddle about painting leaves when a quick dig with a trowel will do it?

  • practice makes perfect.you learn which  are the weeds when you pull up the wrong ones.If you look at persistent weeds that come up and identifying them.Really its just learning as you go along.image

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