Effective weeding starts with avoiding weeds in the first place. Healthy soil and Cover Crops can help prevent unwanted plants from taking hold, but still, sometimes, weeds get out of control. When that happens, you need to pull weeds by hand. Timing differs by region, but as a rule you’ll want to have weeds under control by June, or your yield may take a hit. Below, some pointers for highly effective—and ergonomic!—weed pulling.
Prevent back strain by squatting, kneeling, or getting on hands and knees—use knee pads if you like—and avoiding excessive bending at the waist. Get up and stretch periodically: Touch your toes, shrug your shoulders toward your shoulder blades, and gently bring your
right ear toward your right shoulder, stopping when you feel the stretch. Repeat on the left side.
Root It Out
It’s important to pull the whole plant, including the roots—otherwise weeds will shoot back up again in no time. When weeds are small and the soil is soft, you can extract them by hand. Dig your fingers a few inches into the soil, hold the weed firmly at its base, and use steady pressure to pull straight up.
Use a spade to dig out more established plants—but don’t go in willy-nilly, or you may sever the top of the weed from its roots, making it hard to extract. Instead, aim the tip of the blade at the bottom of the root zone to dig the entire system out of the ground. Not sure how deep to go? Use the spade to loosen the soil all around the weed to check.
Corona Tools eGrip Weeder
A serrated blade for slicing roots and an ergonomic design make this weeder effective and easy to use. $8.52; coronatoolsusa.com
Corona Tools Trowel
A classic, multipurpose trowel is great for digging up weeds as well as planting seeds, removing stones, and a dozen other tasks. $6.68; coronatoolsusa.com
Johnny’s Selected Seeds Wire Weeder
This simple tool pulls very young weeds from the soil when you scrape it back and forth across the ground. $33; johnnyseeds.com
Excellent for removing stubborn weeds with deep roots, this long-handled, forked tool also prevents back strain; you use it standing up. $25; grampasgardenware.com