A blog post about pulling weeds??

We have been spending the past few weekends getting our garden ready for spring. Over the winter, it is easy to neglect the garden. It's cold outside, and I don't know about you, but I'd rather be inside snuggling by the fire, than battling the cold and wind just to pull some weeds. After working so hard to maintain the garden throughout the year, it's nice to just slow down and soak up the slow pace of winter. 

Fast forward to early spring. You walk outside, take a breath of the fresh air, anticipating digging your hands into the dirt. You take one look at the garden, and immediately, regret of those quiet winter months sets in. Instead of envisioning what you will plant this year, you are mentally trying to calculate how much ibuprofen you will need to handle this much back breaking labor. The weeds have taken over and have roots stronger and deeper than trees. You attempt to pull one out, thinking "surely this won't be as bad as it looks." But it is, my friend. These roots that have been left to their own devices all winter are now near impossible to pull out and the frustration and defeat you feel is real. 

Before you decide to just let the weeds take over and become one with your yard again, let me tell you, you are not alone. We contemplate this every year at this time. Do I REALLY want to put myself through this again? Do I REALLY need a garden that bad? It seems so daunting at first.

Prepping the garden is always a task we put off for as long as possible, but the feeling of having fresh dirt just waiting for plants is worth all the back pain we feel getting it ready.

 So where to begin?

There are a few methods that we have used in getting our garden to pristine condition. Some are (way) harder than others, but at least you will have options. So grab your hoe (the kind you use for gardening, of course) and a bottle of ibuprofen, because your back is going to need it.

*This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase.*


The easiest method of clearing your garden of weeds is to spray them with an herbicide. Herbicides are readily available at most home improvement or garden centers, they require the least amount of effort, they allow you to cover the largest area in the littlest amount of time, and they are more effective because of how quickly they kill the weeds.

While some herbicides are aimed at killing only certain varieties of weeds, others, known as non selective, will kill any plant they come into contact with, so you have to pick your poison wisely. You also have to be careful when spraying so it doesn't drift onto other plants.

A tip for spot spraying weeds is to poke a hole through a styrofoam or plastic cup and insert the spraying wand through the hole. The cup will act as a shield so that the herbicide doesn't drift onto surrounding plants. 

Keep in mind that there is a wait time after spraying before you can safely plant, so be sure to read the manufacturers directions. 

Not everyone is keen on using chemicals in their garden, so there is an all natural way to go about keeping those weeds at bay. Simply combine a cocktail of 1 gallon of vinegar, 1 cup of salt, and 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap in a spray bottle and spray during the sunniest part of the day. Within a few days, your weeds will start to wither.

The vinegar and salt draw moisture from the plant, and the dish soap coats the leaves so the plant cannot absorb more moisture. HOWEVER, there are a few downsides to using the all natural route. The vinegar you can buy at the grocery store isn't strong enough to kill bigger, hardier weeds, so this method is only recommended for small, young weeds. 

Also, this concoction is not made to work its way into the root system, meaning multiple treatments will probably be necessary to keep weeds at bay.


Tillers and other machinery

Tillers are an excellent tool to use in the garden. Tillers break the soil into smaller pieces, which helps improve the aeration of the soil and they chop up weeds in the process, making your life a whole lot easier. When choosing a tiller, make sure you are using a tiller that is appropriate for your soil. Lightweight tillers are great for loamy, sandy soil, or soil that has been heavily amended. We like this small tiller for when the soil is already somewhat loose or for areas we have added a lot of compost to. 

CLICK HERE for the link to our favorite lightweight tiller off Amazon.>>>>>> https://amzn.to/3PuXHEL

If you live in an area that has clay soil, you will need a big poppa tiller. This would be some type of heavier duty, gas tiller that has the ability to dig deep into the soil. We use our heavy duty tiller when we are initially getting a garden patch ready. Although, if you have clay gumbo soil like we do, there is no tiller that can dig through the concrete that it becomes in the dry heat of summer. 

Tucker tilling the ground for a new garden plot after we added gin trash on top (more on that in the Compost 101 post)


Some of the downfalls of tillers is that although they dig up the weed down to the roots, they also reincorporate the roots and seeds back into the soil, possibly making the plants regrow. 

It is best to till when the plants are young, before they seed out so you don't risk replanting a weed garden. 


Weed Burners

A couple of Christmases ago, my husband bought me a weed burner. Weed burners are basically giant lighters that you attach to a propane tank and burn the hell outta the weeds.

This is the one that we use>>>>> https://amzn.to/3IYcLa4

I was intimidated by it at first, but once I got the hang of it, it was amazing! I felt so powerful! It was so satisfying to burn all these weeds down to the ground. I was so proud of myself, and I knew that we were never going to have weeds again! Where had this been my whole life !?!

Fast forward to a few weeks later, and not only did the weeds come back bigger, greener, and stronger than they had been before, but all of the bushes around the burn area were brown and crispy on the bottom from being too close to the heat.

 I was so disappointed and disgusted, I wanted to throw out the weed burner. After all that hard work, it's almost like the weeds came back just to laugh at me. 

Then I did a little research.

Weed burners only work if you do a "slow burn." You are supposed to only burn the plants until the point where they are wilted. If you burn them to a crisp (like I did), it will stimulate new growth, and they will come back more powerful than before. 

Weed burners do work well when used correctly, especially on new or young plants. If you are trying to burn bigger plants, you will probably need a couple applications to kill it down to the roots. You also have to be super careful so 

1. You don't burn yourself

2. You don't burn anything down

3. You don't burn plants you want to keep. The heat spreads out pretty far and can easily singe surrounding plants. 


My Least Favorite Method...

A hoe and hard work.(So many jokes to be made there)

Although this is the most back breaking method, it is a sure fire way to make sure you get the whole weed, because you are pinpointing each individual plant. 

Also, a sharp hoe is the key. If you have ever chopped with a dull hoe, you will definitely be able to tell the difference. Hoes, just like knives, dull over time, so you can have them resharpened so they are more effective. 

There is also a tool called a stirrup hoe, which is great for scraping the surface of the soil to pull up small/ young weeds. 

Stirrup Hoe link >>> https://amzn.to/4apiHVi


Weed Barrier Fabric

We all know that weeds pop up faster than memes on the internet, so you need a way to control them. 

Yes, you can use any of the methods we talked about to keep weeds under control, but let's be real; Life gets busy, I get lazy, and I really don't want to go out to the garden every week to check for weeds. AND, once the plants start getting really big, it becomes increasingly harder to work around them.

Let me introduce my best friend, weed barrier fabric. She's worth her weight in gold, and I will sing her praises to anyone who will listen.

I never really liked weed fabric that I had bought from home improvement stores because it was pricey, it took a long time to lay out, and it was so thin, weeds would grow right through it. It seemed like a great idea in theory, but it just never worked for me. 

You can see just how lightweight standard weed fabric is. It is pointless.

Sta-Green 205000 Landscape-Fabric - View #2

Then I discovered professional fabric. 

Professional weed fabric is much much thicker and works SO MUCH BETTER at controlling weeds. The downside is it can be a big investment upfront, BUT it will last 5 or so years, so you can leave it in place for the next year. 

This is an awesome fabric that we have used to cover our entire garden. You can see how much thicker this version is.

Professional Weed Barrier Link >>> https://amzn.to/3TPrBWS


After all this hard work, the time finally arrives when you pull your last weed and the sense of accomplishment starts to sink in. Your back may feel broken, you might have blisters all over your hands, but MAN, doesn't that garden look good??

Pop open the bottle of ibuprofen and grab yourself a cold beer; the worst part of getting your garden ready is over.


Jayci, exhausted from all the hard work


Now, to just keep the promise to myself that I won't let the weeds get out of control next year....


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