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Put The Love Back Into Weeding

Weeding, especially in hotter months, can feel like an endless chore which can cause joints and back to ache. It also feels like it takes you away from the more exciting things in summer. So for those who hate getting the garden tools out to weed, recent research says that over doing it can be harmful to your garden and the eco-system that surrounds it. Keeping most weeds or ‘rewilding’ so that your garden looks like a meadow, helps wildlife such as bees as they love weeds. Weeds such as ‘Wild Vetch’ and ‘Queen Anne’s Lace’ can be downright beautiful and gorgeous weeds like these featured heavily at garden shows such as Hampton Court Garden Festival, so you may not want to get rid of them! Striking the balance between weeding enough so that your lawn and plants get enough sunlight and water with also keeping the bees happy can seem complex. So, weed through (sorry) the information to find a happy medium that suits you and your joints!

image of young thistles in meadow

Brambles

Common and persistent weeds (ivy, suckers and brambles) can cause annoyance to many gardeners as they can hog sunlight and water to the detriment of trees and bushes. If you have spotted these growing in their early stages, now is the time to get rid of them. These sorts of weed are hard to fully eradicate once they are established so acting early can save a whole lot of bother later. However, if you have moved into a property that already has this problem or you have noticed ivy creeping in, there are ways of taming it to save your greenery.

Many of us do not like using weed killer anymore due to the high saturation of chemicals, so it is always best to try a non-harmful based approach at first. Using a scarifier to remove the stems in flowering season will starve the roots of any plant. When doing this to brambles and ivy, the seed bank for the next year is reduced and therefore the plant cannot grow as far. Also, when cutting the growth back, you will end up leaving the stump exposed. You are then able dig the stump out with ease, just ensure that all roots are taken out too. Anything taken out can be cut up and used to create mulch or compost.

Salt and boiling water straight onto the root will kill any weed off, though do be careful as this may affect the PH of your soil. If you are unable to avoid chemicals, do so after trimming the main trailing stems and follow manufacturer’s instructions.

Stinging Nettles

Whilst ‘rewilding’ is a pursuit with amazing benefits and can bring some beautiful, wild colours to your garden for free, most of us draw the line at allowing stinging nettles grow. They do hurt when you brush past them so most of us are not keen on this particular weed and try our hardest to get rid of it. Sadly, like the bramble, these can be hard to get rid of. So, if the nettles in your garden are becoming like a Hydra (the Greek mythical creature that grew two heads after one was cut off) you may need some extra help!

Nettles regrow even with the smallest amount of root left. To help see roots more clearly when weeding nettles, turn the soil around it to make sure that it is clear. This waste can be shredded and used as mulch or compost. Mulch is also used to stop other weeds from growing and will your keep soil damp, although do keep mulch away from your lawn as it may damage it. Also, covering the area where they are growing with newspaper will block sunlight and kill any weed growing underneath.

image of lone daisy surrounded by purple flowers in meadow

Fight Nature, With Nature

There are plants and flowers that grow in such a way that they take over the space that nettles are growing in. Allowing these to grow freely would be perfect for those who want to take the natural approach to getting rid of nettles whilst also having that ‘wild’ look in their garden. ‘Ice Plant’ is a stunning succulent that can grow without a lot of watering and in dry soils. Whilst it can thrive in the heat, it copes rather well in the winter, too. This plant covers like a carpet, grows quite quickly and creates a barrier against weeds. This gorgeous plant flowers in May time. To follow on from May time flowering, the ‘Leadwort’ grows best in the late spring/mid-summer and flowers until Autumn. This hardy plant also counters the dry soil loving ‘Ice Plant’ which flourishes in a contrasting colour and it grows best in shade. Lastly, the ‘Creeping Jenny’ thrives in wetter areas like near ponds and carpets the floor with a thick, green and yellow leafy foliage. This groundcover does not put down deep roots, which is perfect if you’re feeling non-committal about planting this.

A simple rockery or putting gravel down can also stop or deter weeds, especially if a paired with weed guards. An area in your garden with stones and rocks paired with a ground covering succulent could look impressive and can deter unwanted weeds for a long time.

Preparing areas that allow for weeds such as ‘Wild Vetch’ and ‘Queen Anne’s Lace’ to get that ‘re-wild’/meadow look without having weeds that either strangle other plants or service no pollination needs for bees can mean you have the best of both worlds. Planting ground covering succulents that ‘take over’ space usually taken by weeds can give that lush and natural look that so many of us found stunning at Hampton Court Garden Festival. Letting certain flowering weeds grow is also very good for the environment so it may be worth having some stand tall before clearing them.

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