Killing Garden Weeds

Killing garden weeds becomes a necessity.

Some money and time needs to be spent in getting rid of these garden 'pests'.

In all cases it is a case of perseverance, patience and using the most cost effective, least expensive method to kill weeds.

Fortunately most gardeners possess all these traits which are totally invaluable when seeking out and killing garden weeds.

To be really basic - what is the point of allowing weeds to grow?


They take moisture and goodness out of the ground that are needed by your plants.

The choice is yours - kill all or be selective - depending on the situation:

These are two main ways to tackle garden weeds.

  • First of all the 'kill all' method. Here it will be necessary to resort to a weed killer containing glyphosate such as SBK. Roundup weed killer is readily available at garden centres, and it also kills everything. If you can get your hands on any Pastor (an agricultural weed killer) this is an excellent selective weedkiller for docks, nettles and thistles.

  • For the 'softly softly' method of killing garden weeds, dig the weeds out individually.
  • When killing garden weeds choose your time carefully. Wait until the weeds are in full growth with a good surface area of foliage. Late summer is a good time when the plants are passing sugars to the roots for winter storage. Another point to watch when killing garden weeds is don't let the weeds flower and run to seed or your problems will be increased

    Killing garden weeds in lawns can become a 'must' when they are so invasive as to make grass almost invisible in some areas. If you are wary regarding spraying SBK for fear of damaging the surrounding grass, then it is a hands and knees job.

    A jam jar containing a small amount of neat SBK and a paint brush - and you are ready for the kill.

    Choose a warm, dry day so that the weed killer will dry almost instantly. Paint/dab the surface of the leaves being careful not to ‘flick’ your paintbrush, and the results should show in about 14 days. Be prepared for large bare patches in the grass as there may well be just single spikes growing up through the weed.

    If you can 'hit' the weeds twice - early spring/Summer and again just before the frosts descend, then you stand a very good chance of winning the battle. Below are some of the main methods of killing garden weeds that are culprits in most gardens.

    For persistent weeds such as nettles, dock, ground elder and bindweed there are the two approaches. First the 'softly, softly' method and then the 'kill all' method.

    Nettles are easy to dig up, but wear rubber gloves and a long sleeved jacket as they pack a hefty sting. Loosen the soil with a fork and the clumps should pull out very easily. Do not attempt to compost perennial weeds as they can live to fight another day.

    Ground elder is another one of the garden weeds that falls into the easy to manage category. Remove by digging out as the pure white roots are very easy to identify.

    Docks. If you are out-numbered by large numbers of Docks - they have a tendency to congregate - cut the flowering/seed heads off, collecting them in a carrier bag and dispose of them safely where they can do no more damage until you can deal with the plant itself.

    This weed has a long tap root which is sometimes difficult to remove and definitely comes into the 'kill-all' category for garden weeds. Pastor, mentioned above, is the weed killer for this particular weed, if you can get it. Failing this, use SBK painted on, as above.

    Thistles are a menace when they are in seed. One puff of wind and the the seeds are gone to wherever they can seemingly cause the most damage and annoyance. They are a candidate for the kill all method.

    Bindweed must also be allocated to the 'kill all' section as the roots can travel for up to 15ft, which would amount to an awful lot of digging! This weed succumbs to SBK painted on the leaves. On a long/tall and well established plant, the nearer to the root that you can paint the SBK, the quicker the death. Cut off the plant about 4 ins. above where you intend painting the weed killer then the weed killer can concentrate on what is below this cut and the growth underground.

    The other weed in the 'kill all' category is couch grass . This particular enemy is called by various names in different parts of the country - twitch and scutch being two variations. Contrary to popular belief this grass will not die off completely if dug and turned, it needs every last piece of remaining root to be removed. Roundup would probably be appropriate here.

    Creeping buttercup is mainly of annoyance in lawns and again a glyphosate weed killer should do the trick.

    Dandelions are easy to kill with a proprietary garden weed killer such as Verdone. The seed of the dandelion is a total menace, so if it is not quite time for your routine dosing of weed killer, it will pay you to nip off the yellow heads before they have a chance to mature and cause damage.

    Prunella This is a totally obnoxious weed that is extremely difficult to eradicate. It lies flat to the ground, has dark green ovate leaves, a tiny deep purple flower and spreads rapidly. The only known killer at the moment is SBK painted on with a paint brush as above.

    Horses Tail (Mares Tail) This weed is a class of its own being virtually indestructible. The sad realisation is that when the rhizome of this weed can penetrate up to 8 feet down into the ground – you are going to need a miracle to get rid of this noxious character (and the strength of Hercules if you try to dig it out). If, as is suspected it has been around for millions of years, then maybe it has to be lived with until a safe chemical is introduced. Our Nemesis?

    After all this 'destruction' take a look at our Gardening Diary to see the productive side.


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    Tree Stumps are included here as they can be very persistent. To kill off tree stumps such as willow, drill large holes in the remaining stump, fill with salt. Cover the stump with a sheet of plastic to prevent rain diluting or washing away the salt. Another method is to fill the holes with creosote. SBK could also be used here.

    If you have a large garden, it will be kind to leave a small patch of weeds undisturbed so that birds may benefit from the seed heads.


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