If there’s one thing us gardeners have in common when it comes to our beloved outdoor spaces, it’s a mutual hatred of weeds.
Having the right tool for the job can make all the difference. A good weeding tool will make the job of removing weeds much easier.
Some of the best weeding tools will let you pull tough weeds out by the root, often working even on well-established, deep-rooted weeds like dandelions. Others will be more effective on smaller weeds.
The following guide will help you choose the best weeding tool for you to use in your garden:
The Benefits of Using a Weeding Tool
Using chemicals is an effective approach to weed removal, but even the word ‘chemicals’ starts ringing alarm bells for some people – and perhaps rightly so.
Not only can it end up quite expensive to buy herbicides, they can also have negative effects on the environment. One of the biggest problems is that the chemicals have the potential to remain ‘active’ in the soil for a long time; as a result, they can have adverse effects on bio-organisms, animals, and plant life that weren’t the desired recipients of the product.
Using a weeder tool gets rid of the need to use chemicals – sure, weeding tools take longer to use, but if you’re not a fan of herbicides they’re a great option.
The best weeding tool will allow you to remove the entire weed, including the roots.
Leaving the roots behind in the soil will mean they only grow back again in a few weeks. To effectively eliminate the weed, you need to remove them from the root up.
We’ll go into more depth about the different types of weeding tools below, but both hand-weeding knives and claw weeders can effectively remove the taproots of bigger weeds like dandelions. Of course, there are also weeding tools that aren’t capable of removing long rooted weeds, so you need to choose carefully depending on what you require.
Weedings tools can definitely make the process of removing weeds more comfortable.
Different types of weeding tool can achieve this in different ways. A weeding tool with long handles can help avoid knee and back pain whilst weeding. This is possibly one of the greatest benefits of using a weeding tool.
Alternatively, smaller weeding tools can be more efficient than using generic gardening tools for the same job. Weeding tools tend to make weeding lighter work because they’re intended for this purpose, as opposed to using a tool which has many different uses (like a trowel).
Different Types of Weeding Tool
There are several different types of weeding tool, some of better suited to certain job than others. Therefore, depending on the terrain you have in your garden, you may even find that you want to have more than one weeding tool in the armoury.
There are two types of manual, hand-held weeding knives:
Standard Weeding Knife. These are generally the most basic and traditional weeding tool. They often have a straight handle and a sharp forked tip and are generally around 30 – 40 cm long. You therefore have to use them in a kneeling or crouched position, but they make the process of removing pesky weeds much quicker and easier than doing it by hand.
The tool is inserted into the ground beside the weed, and then a levering motion is used to get the weed out of the ground. You can generally get the roots of weeds out using this method.
These weeding knives tend to be fairly cheap, but long lasting and well made.
Paving Weeding Knife. These weeding knives are similar to standard weeding knives, but they often have a hooked end, making it easier to hoick weeds out from between patio slabs. The blade needs to be very thin, in order to get between the cracks, and this blade is generally thinner than that of standard weeding knives.
You’re unlikely to be able to pull out the whole root of the weed, especially if there are relatively large weeds growing on the patio, but you will be able to remove most of the visible weeds there to improve the appearance of the area.
Claw weeders are mechanical weeding tools. They have a long handle and a circle of metal teeth on the end. The metal teeth tend to be around 10 cm long and go into the ground around the weed. There is then a mechanism which allows you to close the teeth to ‘grab’ the weed, and pull it out.
Whilst these weeders don’t always work well on smaller weeds, because there’s not enough to grab onto, they’re effective at pulling larger weeds, like dandelions, out of the soil along with their roots.
They’re best used on flat patches of lawn, and are useful because you don’t need to bend down to pull out the weeds.
Brush Weeding Tool
These weeding tools are exactly what they sound like. They are long-handled tools with a small, stiff brush on the end. They can be used to get at weeds between paving and in other narrow areas.
Whilst they won’t get at the roots of larger weeds, they’re good for dislodging smaller plants before they are able to take root.
A Weeding Hoe
Standard hoes are often used for weeding, but there are also specifically-designed hoes for weeding that follow the same design with a few subtle differences.
A hoe for weeding will often have an edge that has more of a blade than a traditional hoe. The blade may undulate in order to catch more weeds. Like a standard hoe, these weeding tools can be pushed and pulled through the ground, but they’re generally more effective at cutting off stems.
Whilst it’s easy to cover a large area with these weeding tools, and they’re particularly good to use in flowerbeds and vegetable patches, they can’t really be used in hard ground and need to be used in toiled soil.
Long vs Short Handled Tools
Short-handled tools give you control and precision when weeding. They can be used in closely-planted areas where you might be trying to remove a weed from right next to another plant. One of the best things about short-handled tools is that they can be kept in your pocket, or easily to hand, as you do other gardening tasks. They’re ready to be whipped out as soon as you see a stray weed rearing its ugly head.
The downside of a short handle is that you will need to be close to the ground; therefore, these may not be the best weeding tools for people who have difficulty kneeling or bending.
Long-handled weeding tools allow you to stand up whilst weeding which can do wonders for your back. They might be slightly harder to store due to their size, but they offer more leverage which can make it easier to remove stubborn, tough weeds.
If you purchase a long-handled weeding tool, ensure the handle is the correct height for you – crouching over a handle that is just too short negates all of the potential benefits!
You may find it useful to have a both a short-handled and long-handled weeding tool in your shed as they each have their own strengths and weaknesses. However, if you only want one – go for the tool that best suits the majority of the terrain that you have in your garden.
Your Garden Terrain
This has been loosely covered in other sections of this guide, but it’s worth going into a bit more detail.
Finding the best weeding tool for your garden will depend on the terrain that you have. As mentioned above, if you only want one tool – consider which terrain you have most of in your garden.
If you have lawns or flowerbeds that are overrun by established weeds with large roots, you will likely find that a weeding knife or claw weeder will give you the best form of attack.
Weeding knives that are specifically designed for paving, as well as weeding brushes, will help remove pesky weeds from patios. Therefore, they might well be the best option if your garden is predominantly paved. They won’t necessarily get the roots, so the weeds may grow back, but if you keep on top of maintenance then you can maintain a clear area.
If you have a lot of flowerbeds and toiled patches that get covered by smaller weeds, a hoe (preferably designed specifically for weeds!) will be a good ally. Using a combination of a hoe and a claw weeder will help you combat both the small and big weeds in these areas.
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