The battle against weeds is relentless. In every square yard of soil it is estimated that there may be as many as 100,000 weed seeds. Why are they such a bad thing? The simple answer is that they compete. They drink water and absorb nutrients from the soil. They crowd yours crops for space, hogging the light and putting them in the shade. And they play host to all kinds of pests and diseases.
- Bindweed – one of the most difficult of all weeds to eradicate. Dig up and destroy every piece of root, or spray leaves with systemic weedkiller.
- Bramble – vigorous and invasive, with painfully sharp thorns. Roots are deep and must be dug out completely.
- Creeping buttercup – a low, spreading weed that throws out horizontal runners, producing new plants at each node. Uproot the whole lot.
- Dock – dig up the long taproots without letting them snap or they will regenerate.
- Stinging nettle – dig out the roots of stinging nettles in order to eradicate completely. But be careful, the sting really hurts!
- Creeping thistle – its root system is so tenacious that a systemic weedkiller may be the only solution to the problem.
- Dandelion – remove dandelion flower heads before they fade and release their tiny, parachute-like seeds — and dig out the entire tap root.
- Ground elder – dig up carefully — this determined weed with regrow from any stray bits of root left in the soil.
Annual and biennial weeds
- Goosegrass – also known as ‘cleavers,’ the plants have tiny, hooked hairs that cling to supports. Dig up by the roots.
- Plaintain – uproot the whole plant — including its tap root — before it flowers and produces seed.
- Annual meadowgrass – hoe regularly to prevent the grass from flowering and spreading across your plot.
- Ragwort – remove and compost before the yellow flowers turn to seed.
- Groundsel – dig up and remove before the fluffy, dandelion-like seed heads form.
- Common chickweed – a low-growing weed that spreads vigorously but has shallow roots which are fairly easy to pull up.
- Shepherd’s purse – easy to uproot when still young. Compost only if the heart-shaped seed pods have not yet formed.
- Hairy bittercress – pull up when young, before the long, cylindrical seed pods appear.
- Hoe regularly so that you catch weeds when they are young and while their roots are still shallow.
- Don’t let weeds flower, or they will generate a new crop of seeds.
- Hoe when it’s dry so that severed and uprooted weeds die quickly.
- If the soil is damp, collect up and dispose of any remains to ensure that they don’t regrow.
- Loosen soil thoroughly so that when you dig up roots you leave nothing behind.
- Don’t put perennial weeds on your compost heap; they may live to fight another day.
- Use lightproof membrane mulches to kill established weeds.
- Spread surface mulches to suppress the growth of new weeds.
- Use chemical systemic weedkillers as a last resort.