How to Choose the Best Tools for Weeding Your Garden

August 22, 2019

By Matt

The Best Tools For Weeding Your Garden

There’s no easy way to put it, pulling weeds is a royal pain to deal with! Many gardeners try to put a spin on the ugly chore by convincing themselves it’s a time of peaceful zen. But once they stand up from a bent position, their body tells them otherwise!

Unfortunately, weeds are a reality that spring up in gardens and lawns despite our best efforts. The energy and time invested in pulling weeds can be draining, to say the least.

Weeds are like uninvited dinner guests that show up and belly right up to the table to feast. Consuming most of the meal, there is little left for those that were invited. Compare this to your garden if you will. As weeds begin to crop up in your garden, they immediately start to consume the vital nutrients in the soil that your plants need in order to thrive and outcompete your desirable plants.

Your soil begins to lack the quality it once had, and now your garden is beginning to take on an unhealthy appearance. The plants start to wither and die, but the weeds are happy and thriving.

As soon as weeds appear, it’s important to nip the problem in the bud and get rid of them so your plants get to eat what’s meant for them just as the invited guests should rightly do so when they come to dinner. Don’t let the uninvited weeds be the gluttons of the garden.

garden weeds

“garden weeds” by _foam CC by-sa 2.0

Why Weeds Are So Tough 

Weeds are unsightly and will go to great lengths to inhibit and even kill desirable plants. There are some weeds that produce toxic chemicals (allelopathy) to kill other plants because the competitive nature of the weed is so extreme. 

Things Weeds Compete For

  • Sunlight
  • Water
  • Nutrients
  • Space

Weeds are very hardy and have the ability to survive in hostile conditions. They have developed defenses to overcome those conditions, such as:

  • Leaves have evolved to prevent water loss making them more drought and heat tolerant.
  • Deep tap roots are designed to access and store water.
  • Prolific seed production and disbursement allow the weed to survive in soil for years.

Some Of The Worst Weeds

Crabgrass

  • Rapid grower
  • Spreads in a dense, thick mat
  • Goes into overdrive in heat

Dandelion

  • Develops a thick taproot several feet deep in the ground
  • Prolific seed disperser

Bermudagrass

  • Spreads like a carpet through stolons and rhizomes
  • Has a massive root system

Bindweed 

  • Has the ability to resprout over and over again
  • Roots spread as deep at 30 feet underground
  • Seeds are viable in the soil for up to 50 years

Chickweed

  • Tolerant to cold
  • Prolific seed disperser
  • Seeds can germinate up to 10 years once in soil

Canada Thistle

  • Root fragments left in ground resprout
  • Forms huge underground network colonies of roots
  • Thousands of seeds per plant

Quack Grass

  • Produces a chemical that inhibits the growth of desirable plants
  • Has extensive runner roots

Bittercress

  • Develops seed pods that coil up and as soon as they are disturbed like a cannon 
  • Seeds are dispersed as far as 16 feet away

Why Pulling Weeds Is Important

By pulling weeds, you are removing competition that will either inhibit or kill desirable plants. Weeds are highly competitive and are equipped to survive. 

Weeds Will…

Block Out Sunlight

  • By growing rapidly, they overcome desirable plants by blocking out sunlight.

Rob The Water Supply

  • By developing deep root systems, weeds tap into the water supply, depleting water for desirable plants.

Compete For Space

  • Plants have a personal space which is their root zone. Weeds will invade those root zones and cause stress on the plant’s roots, making the plant susceptible to disease/pests.
  • Weeds compete for prime real estate above and below the ground.

Hide Flowers And Fruit

  • Weeds distract pollinators from the flowers of the plants by growing over the plant hiding the flowers. Once that is accomplished, the weed produces a food source for pollinators.

Camouflage Disease/Pests

  • The overgrowth of weeds makes it difficult to see potential disease/pests in the desirable plants. 

Creates A Habitat For Overwintering Pests

  • Weeds that overwinter in gardens make an ideal habitat for pests to ride out the winter. Once spring arrives, out come the pests.

Carry Disease

  • Contaminated insects spread diseases to weeds when they are feeding on the weed. Disease can then be spread to other plants through insects.

Produce Chemicals To Kill Other Plants

Disperse Prolific Amounts Of Seeds

  • Weeds are survivalists and produce an enormous amount of seeds which are dispersed. 
  • Next time you blow on a dandelion seed ball, think about how many future dandelions are being blown about.

Pulling Weeds And Body Mechanics

Every gardener can attest to the physical strain that pulling weeds puts on their body. The squatting, bending over, and standing for extended periods of time is demanding. The physical taxation is what makes pulling weeds a loathsome chore.

Prolonged weed pulling causes back pain and sore muscles. There are things gardeners can do to ensure they are using correct body mechanics, so the aches and pains are alleviated. This is especially important for those that have chronic back issues or problems bending or kneeling.

Things To Help Your Body When Pulling Weeds

  • Warm up your muscles before pulling weeds (brisk walking, bike riding, stretches.)
  • When kneeling, use a knee pad (with handles if possible to help you get up.)
  • For back pain sufferers, consider planting in raised garden beds.
  • Avoid doing long periods of weeding. Break it down into smaller time segments.
  • Bend your knees when picking up the weeds you have pulled.
  • Use a cart or wheelbarrow to haul weeds to trash.
  • Take breaks.
  • After you are done, continue to do something to move around. This will prevent you from becoming sore.
  • Use good posture, keeping back straight if you are kneeling.
  • Move around and change positions frequently.
  • Use gardening tools that make weed pulling easier. For those with back problems, use a long-handled weed puller.
Jeff weeding

“Jeff weeding” by artfulblogger CC by-nc-nd 2.0 

Types Of Weeding Tools

There are two types of weeding tools. When choosing a weeding tool, it basically comes down to a personal preference.

Short Handled

  • Used for kneeling.
  • Allows for working in tight spaces.

These weeding tools are a shorter/smaller sized tool. There are a variety of styles, but all will have shorter handles. Short-handled weeding tools provide you with the ability to have more control over your strikes to remove the weed. By working closer to the area, it’s easier to avoid accidentally uprooting a desirable plant.

Long Handled

  • Used in a standing position.
  • Allows for working larger areas.

Long-handled weeding tools are great for those that have difficulty kneeling. Most styles allow gardeners to simply twist and pull the weed up.

How To Choose A Weeding Tool

There are things to take into consideration when choosing a weeding tool. Gardeners have a specific idea of how they want the tool to perform for them personally. 

Factors To Consider

  • Will the tool allow you to pull weeds in a comfortable position?
  • Can you physically maneuver the tool (strength/dexterity)?
  • Will the tool pull the weed’s entire root? 
    • Be careful not to use a tool that will leave parts of the root behind causing regrowth.
  • Is the tool built with quality materials?
  • Will the tool require sharpening or maintenance to continue to perform effectively?

Our Top Three Recommended Weeding Tools

We have taken the guesswork out of choosing a good-quality weeding tool that performs great. Included in our recommendations are both short-handle and long-handle options

Fiskars Softouch Hand Weeder

This tool digs to the “root of the problem” in reaching deep roots of weeds. The comfortable handle and bent design make it ergonomic. The angle of the tool allows for effective leverage in getting the weed out of the ground.

  • Style: Short-handled
  • Uses: Effective for reaching roots
  • Maintenance: None
  • Size: 12 ⅜” 
Pros Cons
Ergonomic design
Comfort handle
Ideal for tight spots
Effective at digging up roots
Requires kneeling or bending
May leave pieces of the tap root behind underground

Hori Hori Gardening Knife

This weeding tool has the appearance of a knife but packs a lot of power in uprooting weeds. It’s a multi-faceted tool made of carbon steel that slices through roots and other tough plant matter. The two-sided blade features a serrated edge on one side and a smooth edge on the other.

  • Style: Short-handled
  • Uses:
    • Serrated edge: used for sawing through weed roots and other tough plant matter
    • Smooth edge: great for slicing open bags of mulch, fertilizer, etc.
  • Maintenance:
    • Requires sharpening because of carbon steel material
    • Prone to rust, so oiling is necessary
  • Size: 7” blade
Pros Cons
Multi-functions with serrated and smooth blades
Made of quality material; carbon steel
Ideal for tight spots
Effective at getting to the roots
Requires kneeling or bending
May leave pieces of the tap root behind underground
Requires sharpening to keep blade sharp
Prone to rust; must be oiled

Garden Weasel Step & Twist Hand Weeder

This weeding tool provides a fun and easy way to get weeds up and out of the ground. It’s as easy as pressing down on the tool with your foot, twisting the handle, and pop the weed right out of the ground roots and all!


  • Style: Long-handle
  • Uses: All weeds; it will not get to the deep tap roots.
  • Maintenance: None
  • Size: 38”
Pros Cons
Ideal for those with back issues or problems bending over or kneeling
Simple and fun to use
Ideal for larger areas
Effective at pulling weeds
Will not reach deep tap roots
Not designed for tight spots
Does not allow a closer visual on digging up weed
Dedicated gardener

“Dedicated gardener” by Kathleen Tyler Conklin is licensed under CC by 2.0 

Kill Two Birds With One Stone

Are you down in the dumps AND facing a garden full of weeds?

Did you know that pulling weeds can actually make you happier?

Mycobacterium vaccae is a strain of bacteria present in the soil. Gardeners working and digging in soil inhale these bacteria which causes the brain to release serotonin. Serotonin not only works to decrease anxiety but it’s also a mood elevator. M. vaccae has been found to be beneficial in treating cancer and other diseases as well as improving cognitive function.

So the next time you don’t feel like pulling weeds, get on out there and “git’r done” because you will feel so much better. Having the right weeding tool, fresh air, and healthy dirt to breathe in will make the mundane task of pulling weeds much more invigorating and fun.

References

(n.d.) Why pull weeds? Reformation Acres, Retrieved from:

https://www.reformationacres.com/2017/06/why-pull-weeds.html

Slagle, D. (2015 July 31) How to Pull Weeds and Not Your Back, Rapid City Journal, Retrieved from:

https://rapidcityjournal.com/lifestyles/home-and-garden/how-to-pull-weeds-and-not-your-back/article_653ab035-c84e-5ae5-833d-5b4dbb5e57a9.html

(n.d.) Best Weeding Tools, Gardening Products Review, Retrieved from:

https://gardeningproductsreview.com/best-weeding-tools/

(2018 March 7) Why are weeds so competitive with my plants?, Sustainable Secure Food, Retrieved from:

https://sustainable-secure-food-blog.com/2018/03/07/why-are-weeds-so-competitive-with-my-plants/

Sachs, N., (2011 January 25) Dirt Can Make You Happy, Horticulture Magazine, Retrieved from:

www.hortmag.com/blogs/gardening-blog/dirt-can-make-you-happy

Related Posts

The Top 5 Spring Flowering Trees

The Top 5 Spring Flowering Trees

Vibrant Pops of Color! The fresh blossoms that spring forward with the arrival of springtime each year gives a sense of renewal as trees bring life forth again. Spring is synonymous for the bursts of color that come from plants. We have featured five of the best trees...

The Best Houseplants for Low Light Conditions

The Best Houseplants for Low Light Conditions

Look at Pinterest and you’ll see floor-to-ceiling windows, sunlight illuminating fiddle leaf figs, and a riot of overgrown plants drinking in more sunshine than your entire house sees in a week. What to do? Wish your home were an oasis teeming with greenery? If your...

The Ultimate Guide to Indoor Seed Starting

The Ultimate Guide to Indoor Seed Starting

While indoor seed starting may seem like something only expert gardeners are capable of, this task is one that can be learned by even the most novice horticulturist! Starting seeds indoors is a great way to ensure your plants will be successful upon transplant, as you...

0 Comments

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

eighteen − 5 =

Close Bitnami banner
Bitnami