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The art of weeding Add to ...

First, gardening pro and Globe Style columnist Marjorie Harris helped Globe Life editor Kevin Siu with watering his garden. Here, she answers his questions on how to get rid of weeds.

How to get rid of weeds

If you've inherited a garden, like me, or you've lost track of your plan for it, how do you know what to weed and what not to weed? For example, you talk about the benefits of goldenrod, but it's also pretty invasive. Less weeding works for me. How much can I leave things alone?

Take out any weed that threatens to overwhelm the garden. Goldenrod isn't a weed, nor can you get allergies from it. It attracts beneficial insects.

But you don't want a whole garden of it. Ditto with Queen Anne's lace. One or two plants is enough for a whole garden. Get out all the other weeds.

What's the best weeding technique? How rigorous do I need to be about making sure I pull up the full root?

Stick your trowel in the ground down to about five inches or so and you'll be able to lever out almost any weed. Look at the root system and if it looks broken, root around for more. I always weed right after there's been a lovely long rain or I've watered for a good long time. It makes everything easy to get up and out.

What's the best spacing between plants?

I always like to see a little soil between plants. This business of mushing plants in together isn't good for them and looks awful. Leave several inches - say, five -between plants and read the label. See how much space they recommend: Take the label seriously. Don't just go for instant effect.


How often should you water? Can you bring a plant back to life?

Let's talk tools.

I'm big on hands being used all the time. But a really good scuffle hoe will rogue, or haul, weeds out and fluff up the soil. But the least soil disturbance the better. Keeps the soil structure intact.

What things I should be doing at the beginning and end of the season to minimize weeding during the year?

Learn your weeds on the Internet or with a good book and get them out as soon as they stick their heads out of the ground. If you are confused wait.

Here's a rule of thumb: If they come out easily, they are usually something you love; if they fight, they are weeds.

And gardens should be mulched twice a year: in late spring, after everything is up and you've finished planting, and in early October, when there's been a hard frost. I use a combination of duck compost, my own compost and ground up leaves. Use finely ground up bark from local trees as well.

No dyes, no chip and no pieces of woody stuff lying about.

Any tricks for weeding between the cracks? That's my least favourite.

Boiling hot water works a dream.

Gardening expert Marjorie Harris writes for Globe Style. Her web site is www.marjorieharris.com.

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