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Weeds : Weed control by hand

Hand weeding | Hoeing | Digging

Hand weeding

Pulling up weeds by hand from among garden plants is the oldest and surest way of separating out the unwanted. Weeding by hand is very effective, but slow, and suitable only in close to plants where hoeing might cause damage. An old kitchen knife is a useful aid to hand-weeding.

Shake the soil off the roots of weeds after pulling them up and collect them in a heap or a weeding bucket as the work is carried out. This approach prevents the weeds rooting again, as many weeds are capable of doing.


Hoeing is a quick, effective, safe and cheap way of controlling weeds, with little or no damage to crop plants. Hoeing must be done while the weeds are small. The ideal stage is when they have one or two ‘true’ leaves, and are just a couple of centimetres high. The hoe separates the top from the root, and the weed seedling dies.

Hoeing too early might only move the seedlings about, because the root may not be deep enough to be caught by the hoe. Hoeing at the right stage will kill perennial weed seedlings before they get a chance to develop their storage root survival system. Hoe on a warm, bree day, so that the weeds dry out before they get a chance to root again.


Perennial weeds that have developed their storage roots will not be controlled by hoeing – they simply grow new leaves. Instead, they must be dug out. Use a fork or spade, and make sure to get the entire storage root system. Leave the lifted weeds on a hard surface to die.


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