How to tackle a garden plot that’s overrun with weeds in a way that works with nature!

N.B. Before strimming a wild and overgrown area check for wildlife first, such as hedgehogs.

Also, it’s better to strim before everything has set seed! I left it a bit late so I cut everything in half to drop it to the ground so the seeds couldn’t fly around too much!

Cardboard is also a great mulch instead of plastic for a short amount of time, but do make sure you don’t use Amazon boxes as they have been known to spray them with toxic substances to keep rodents away – you definitely don’t want that in your soil!

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Rachel Mathews
Rachel Mathews

Professional international garden designer for over 30 years. My mission is to de-mystify garden design and make it easy for people to successfully design their own garden - without needing to spend a fortune!

    12 replies to "Weed woes & solutions"

    • Angela

      Very useful thank you. I have a rockery and a raised narrow winding border that has couch grass, dock weed, dandies, morning (not) glory, and lots of really persistent weeds that I’m constantly pulling out. Trouble is especially the couch grass as it’s in amongst everything and not easy to pull each plant out. How do I solve this please?

      • Rachel Mathews

        Couch grass is tricky, in that situation if you can’t put a weed suppressant membrane down then you will have to keep pulling it out by hand but adding a deep mulch over the top will help prevent the other weeds germinating so then it’s just a matter of keeping on top of the grass until it is no more… not going to be an easy fix though. Good luck.

    • Melissa Peacock

      This is sooooo interesting! I didn’t know about them sugars attracting the microbes, or think about why weeds were there. Thank you for making this so easy to understand; I love your use of analogies to make understanding easier. Thank you!

      • Rachel Mathews

        Thanks, Melissa, glad the analogies are helpful :o)

        Did you get my plan review video ok?

    • Lindsey Hampson

      My daughter’s garden is covered in very overpowering anemone plants.
      Last year I pulled as much as I could out treating the rizomes with plant killer. This year we seem to have even more. They’re even sprouting in the cracked between the drive and the house bricks!
      How can I be rid of this invasive plant altogether….it’s even sprouting up in both my neighbour’s gardens too!

      • Rachel Mathews

        Hi Lindsey,

        I’ve no experience with that type of anemone but it might be a case of covering the soil for an entire year with plastic but I don’t know what would happen as they may just go dormant. Sorry I can’t be of more help. I hope you find a solution.

      • Corinna Rupp

        Hi! That sounds to me like you might be dealing with Japanese anemone, which I have grown for many years. Keep digging and don´t let them go to seed anymore. They spread via their rhizomes and by seed. It is fiddly and labour intensive to try to eradicate them, but if you keep taking rhizomes out, they will get weaker. I hope that helps. xx

        • Rachel Mathews

          Thanks so much for sharing your expertise, Corinna, much appreciated :o)

    • Yvettw

      Thanks for this. My only concern is that if strimming when the weeds are in flower or seed the strimming just blasts the seeds into everyone else’s property!
      We’ve had a huge surge in weeds in our gardens. Both type and quantity in recent years. More and more people get professional mowing services in now. But the disposal of green matter at the city site is hugely expensive (and time to get to it and fuel prices don’t help) – so mown material is no longer collected in mowing catch baskets as few professionals use mowers much now. strimmers are the easy cheaper solution to this!

      • Rachel Mathews

        Yes, absolutely! Depends on how you strim. I try to cut them in half and drop the seeds to the ground rather than blasting them all over the place but at this time of year however careful you are, even if you pull them up by hand, with some weeds the seeds will go everywhere. Ideally, this should have been done before they set seed but I was too busy!

    • Laura Bedell-Pearce

      Very interesting. I learnt new things about microbes. Have you tried using Cardboard and Soil like Charles Dowding does with his No Dig method? I’ve seen gardeners have great success with this method and you don’t have to use any plastic.

      • Rachel Mathews

        Hi Laura,

        Thanks for bringing this up. I had intended to mention cardboard in the video and then completely forgot! Yes, it is a great method for the short-term as it rots down as you say. If I’d had some to hand it would have been my preference to plastic for sure. You do need to be careful not to use Amazon boxes though as apparently they spray them with toxic solutions to stop rodents eating them, which you definitely don’t want in your soil!

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