War Of The Weeds

A collection of different weed removal methods, some more effective than others.

13 January 2015



Noun: Weed; plural noun: weeds

Definition: a wild plant growing where it is not wanted and in competition with cultivated plants.

Every gardener is locked in a vicious battle with weeds. As soon as you remove one another 100 appear or at least that’s how it feels. Unfortunately we must all come to accept the war will never be over, a garden is never weed free. (Unless it is concreted from corner to corner and even then, that’s no guarantee). Even though the war will never be over you can make sure you are on the winning side. Here are 8 ideas to help you combat the unwelcome guests.

Removing weeds by hand

Good ol’ fashioned manual removal is a pretty effective method up until you get back ache or boredom sets in. Getting the root out fully reduces the likely hood of the invader returning anytime soon. I remember when I was younger as punishment being given a bucket and told I wasn’t allowed tea until the bucket was full. So this method is definitely not my favourite!

Removing weeds by pouring boiling water on themPouring boiling water directly onto a weed is one of the more unusual but effective methods to target problem weeds individually. Although this isn’t so easy if you have a large area to weed. Be careful not to burn other desired plants in the vicinity.


Use Iron sulphate to remove weedsIron sulphate will kill broad-leaf weeds and moss in paths and lawns quickly. It won’t harm lawn grasses but if it accidentally touches other plants wash it off immediately with water. Add two tablespoons of iron sulphate to 4.5litres of water, stir well and thoroughly wet weeds.

Mulching prevents the growth of weedsMulching - Any barrier that blocks the light out from the soil will work as a mulch. Bark, dried leaves, cardboard and newspapers are all effective. Organic mulches have the benefit of providing nutrients to the soil. They also keep the soil cool, helping to reduce water loss through evaporation. If using straw or hay ensure they are weed free otherwise you will only make matters worse.

laying down black plastic prevents weeds from growingBlack plastic sheeting is effective for clearing a whole area of weeds or lawn before creating or replanting a whole flower bed or vegetable patch. The black plastic prevents water and light reaching the ground killing everything underneath.

No vacancy signPut up the no vacancy sign, filling up space so there is no room for weeds is a good tactic. Mowing your lawn high and keeping it fertilised keeps it thick and reduces the opportunity for weeds to creep in. Native Violet (Viola Hederacea) and Kidney Weed (Dichondra Repens) are both great tough, groundcovers that look pretty good too, so are perfect for empty areas.
Flame thrower in useGet a flame thrower, whilst this isn’t the safest of methods and improper use can have disastrous consequences burning individual weeds is a sure fire and satisfying way to kill weeds.

Vinegar can kill weedsVinegar can kill weeds along with everything else it comes into contact so it must be used carefully. Better suited to combating weeds in paved areas rather than in flower beds.


Fun Facts
•    There is a company in America that rent out a herd of goats for weed clearance jobs.
•    One dandelion can produce 15,000 seeds a year and each seed can survive up to six years in the soil!
•    Geese are good weeders. The White Chinese Weeding Goose was first bred over 2,000 years ago by the Chinese specifically for the purpose of weeding.

No one method is going to give you a completely weed free garden but hopefully one or more of these methods will provide you with some success in your battle with the weeds.

Go forth and conquer!

Happy Gardening!


N.B. This article has been written for Australian gardens. If you're reading this from around the world, we do hope you've found it a useful stepping stone for your own further research.


Comments (7)

Weed Killing

Pure worm juice (worm pee) will kill anything and eventually the fertilizer will dilute and work its way into the soil. A win-win solution
, 3 February 2015

Bark is great!!

I am using red bark in my late father's garden bed in my courtyard. I don't have the time to plant vegetables as I am a full-time carer of my mum. So I was happy to read that mulching is effective to prevent weeds. It does work. I didn't put down black plastic first so I do get a few weeds here and there. I have put my mum's potted plants on top and it looks great. I'm sure my dad would be pleased with me. Thank you.
, 23 January 2015


Thank you for some use full ideas on my weed problem.
, 20 January 2015


Have been in a few rentals and weeds are often a problem with neglected gardens. I have had success with laying cardboard from packaging over the garden bed. Can water and have been known to attack with the spade later to turn the wet cardboard into a rough mulch.
, 20 January 2015

Mardi's mehod

I find on a sunny day, using a squirt from an aerosol can can kill paver weeds with no fuss.
, 20 January 2015