How to kill weeds in your garden – from spraying vinegar to 'choking' them out

Got a weed problem?

Sure, you can pull up weeds by the root, but if your garden is in danger of being overrun, the often lengthy and back-breaking process might not be your best option.

You can always let them be if you don’t mind them, but if you’ve got things growing in your garden that you consider pests, not plants, there’s a range of different methods you can try.

Shannen Godwin, spokesperson for plants and bulbs retailer J Parker’s, says: ‘There is a garden philosophy: If you like it, it’s a flower; if you don’t, it’s a weed.

‘It’s hard to have compassion for weeds, but they’re just plants growing in places where they’re not wanted.’

For anyone looking to get rid of weeds, Shannen has put together some tips and tricks to keep weeds away from your garden for good.

Don’t give them any room

Shannen says you can ‘choke out’ weeds by leaving as little space as possible between plants and shading the soil.

She adds: ‘Deprive them of water as well, as this will reduce the germination by at least a half, depending on the climate.

‘Also opt to enrich the soil with organic matter and good compost, as this isn’t fertile territory for weeds to germinate.’

If you’re looking for things that make for good ground cover plants, Shannen recommends the likes of Aubrieta Red Cascade and Campanula Glomerata Superba for spots that get a lot of sun, Gypsophila Prostrata Pink and Sedum Spurium for areas with partial shade, and Ajuga Burgundy Glow and Rose of Sharon for shady spots.

To stop these plants from taking over your whole garden and killing other plants, you can place rocks or stepping stones between them as a barrier.

You can also place some mulch between different types of ground cover plants to conserve soil moisture and reduce unwanted plant growth.

Minimise soil disturbance

This is a good method for preventing the weeds from appearing in the first place.

Shannen says: ‘Only dig into the ground when you need to and salve the spot with plants or mulch, as the weeds at the top of the soil benefit from the light and might start germinating.

‘If you really have to open a patch of ground, consider using a narrow blade knife to slice through the roots of the weeds and leave them without a feed source, rather than digging them out.’

Pour salt water on them (but not on your plants)

Pouring salt water over the weeds should do the trick, but make sure you don’t accidentally get your plants with the mixture as they won’t like it one bit.

Shannen says: ‘Diluting table salt in water (3:1 ratio) and pouring it on the weeds only – not on your plants – can affect their root structure.’

If you have trouble reaching the weeds you want to cull, you can also use vinegar in a spray bottle.

Off with their heads

If you can’t remove them or want to limit their spread but not get rid of them completely, Shannen says you can chop off their heads.

This will reduce their reseeding ability as well as their access to root buds, helping to stop them from spreading.

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