Alan Titchmarsh shows you how to weed between your plants to keep your borders tidy and reduce competition. With minimum effort and using just a hand trowel, he demonstrates the best way to tackle different types of weeds, including tap-rooted perennials such as thistles, and shallow-rooted annuals such as speedwell.
Weeding by hand: transcript
At the end of a long winter – and to be absolutely honest, I’ve never known a short one – the earth between the plants in your beds and borders is hard and compacted. It’s been undisturbed and it’s given all the weeds a chance to gain a foothold. And it’s right now with spring waking up, that you need to get down and in there
to get those weeds out and stop them competing with your cultivated plants.
Now, there are several different kinds of weeds. The most pernicious are the tap rooted, deep rooted perennial weeds like this thistle here. Now, that’s got a thick root, which is broken in half. The bit that remains behind will soon send up more shoots. So with a hand fork or a trowel, get right down in there underneath each
one. And if you listen, it didn’t snap. That means I’ve got all the root out. That’s not going to reappear. So all the perennial weeds like that, when you’ve loosened the soil, you can make sure that they’re teased out individually.
There’ll be lots of little tiny weeds as well. Little annuals like this speedwell with a flimsy little bit of root. Now, the great thing about that is if you gently fork them up, you can leave them on the surface of the soil. They will dry out, desiccate in sunny spells. They’re no worry now. But what also this alleviation of compaction does, is it
forms a friable layer on the surface of the soil, which in a way acts like a mulch. It stops the soil below drying out quite so much. It removes the weed competition from the plants you do want to grow, and makes sure that they can get away without being competed by the plants that you really don’t like.