How Do You Control Weeds?

When it comes to maintaining a pristine garden, the perennial challenge faced by many enthusiasts is how to effectively control weeds. Weeds, those persistent and often unwelcome plants, can quickly take over your garden if not kept in check. When new weeds show up, it is important to tackle them as soon as possible. Let's explore various methods used to control weeds, from traditional techniques to modern approaches, to help you achieve a flourishing garden.

Understanding Weeds

Weeds come in various forms, from annual weeds that germinate from seeds each year to perennial weeds that persist year after year. Identifying the types of weeds in your garden is crucial for implementing the right control methods. It is important to ensure you get right into the roots of weeds to effectively control them.

Types of Weeds

Annual Weeds

These are weeds that complete their life cycle within a single growing season. Common examples include dandelions and chickweed.

Perennial Weeds

Perennial weeds, on the other hand, regrow from their roots each year. Horsetail and Bindweed are notorious perennial weeds that can be challenging to control.

Biennial Weeds

Biennial weeds are plants that complete their life cycle over two growing seasons. Unlike annuals, which complete their life cycle within one year, and perennials, which persist for multiple years, biennials have a two-year life span.

The Biggest Threats

British gardens are susceptible to a variety of weeds that can be quite troublesome for gardeners. Here are some of the worst weeds commonly found in British gardens:

1. Horsetail (Equisetum arvense):

Description: Horsetail, also known as Marestail, has hollow, jointed stems with no true leaves. It produces cone-like structures at the tips of the stems.

Challenges: Horsetail is known for its deep and extensive root system. It can be challenging to control, and its presence may indicate underlying soil issues.

2. Ground Elder (Aegopodium podagraria):

Description: Ground Elder is a perennial weed with triangular leaves and small white flowers. It spreads rapidly through underground rhizomes.

Challenges: Known for its rapid and extensive spread, Ground Elder can quickly form dense ground cover, outcompeting desirable plants for nutrients and space.

3. Japanese Knotweed (Fallopia japonica):

Description: Japanese Knotweed is a highly invasive plant with bamboo-like stems and heart-shaped leaves. It produces clusters of small, creamy-white flowers.

Challenges: Japanese Knotweed has a robust root system and can penetrate through foundations and pavements. Its growth can cause structural damage and is challenging to eradicate.

4. Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale):

Description: Dandelions have distinctive yellow flowers and toothed leaves. They produce fluffy seed heads that disperse easily in the wind.

Challenges: Dandelions are prolific seed producers, and their seeds can spread rapidly, colonising lawns and garden beds. The deep taproot makes complete removal difficult.

5.Bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis):

Description: Bindweed is a persistent and invasive weed with twining stems and heart-shaped leaves. It produces trumpet-shaped white or pink flowers.

Challenges: Its aggressive growth and deep root system make it challenging to eradicate. Bindweed can quickly take over other plants, reducing their access to sunlight.

6. Nettle (Urtica dioica):

Description: Nettles have serrated leaves and produce clusters of small greenish flowers. They are well-known for their stinging hairs.

Challenges: Nettles can rapidly colonise neglected areas. Their ability to thrive in various soil conditions makes them persistent and challenging to eradicate.

7. Couch Grass (Elymus repens):

Description: Couch Grass, also known as twitch or quack grass, has creeping rhizomes and long, narrow leaves. It produces spikelets of flowers.

Challenges: Couch Grass spreads through its extensive rhizome system, making it challenging to remove completely. It competes with desirable plants for nutrients and water.

8. Creeping Buttercup (Ranunculus repens):

Description: Creeping Buttercup has glossy, deeply divided leaves and bright yellow flowers. It spreads through stolons.

Challenges: Creeping Buttercup can form dense mats in lawns and garden beds, smothering other plants. It thrives in moist conditions.

To effectively manage these troublesome weeds growing in your soil or your lawn, a combination of strategies, including regular monitoring, manual removal, and targeted use of herbicides, may be necessary. Additionally, promoting healthy soil and strong, well-spaced plants can help prevent weed infestations.

Marestail UK specialises in the removal of all types of common weeds, including woody weeds such as brambles and persistent weeds such as the Horsetail, we use natural ways to remove many weeds with organic products.

Natural Weed Control Methods

Gardening without the use of chemicals is a preference for many, and there are several natural weed control methods that can effectively prevent more weeds from growing.


Mulching is a time-tested method to suppress weeds and nourish the soil. Organic mulch, such as straw or bark, not only prevents weed germination by blocking sunlight but also enriches the soil.

In the pursuit of effective weed control, consider applying mulch around your plants and over garden beds. This creates a weed barrier, hindering the growth of unwanted plants. Mulching is particularly useful in lawns, as it not only controls weeds but also helps retain soil moisture.

Hand Weeding

For those who prefer a hands-on approach to weed control without a herbicide, manually removing weeds by hand is a viable option. Grab a pair of gardening gloves and get down to the roots of the problem. This method is especially effective for removing weeds from flower beds without resorting to chemicals.

Natural Weed Killers

In the UK, there are several natural and eco-friendly weed killers that you can use to kill weeds without chemicals in your garden. These weed killer alternatives are less harmful to the environment compared to using a synthetic herbicide.
Here are some natural weed killers:


How to Use: White vinegar or apple cider vinegar can be sprayed directly onto weeds. The acetic acid in the vinegar disrupts the cell structure of the plants, leading to their demise.

Caution: Vinegar can also affect surrounding plants, so apply it carefully and avoid using it with weeds in flower beds.

Boiling Water

How to Use: Pouring boiling water directly onto weeds can scald and kill them. This is particularly effective for weeds growing in cracks on driveways or pathways.

Caution: Be cautious when using boiling water to avoid burns. This method is best for weeds in areas where you don't want any vegetation.


How to Use: Sprinkling salt directly onto weeds can dehydrate and kill them. However, be cautious, as salt can persist in the soil and affect other plants if used in excess.

Caution: Use salt sparingly, and avoid using it in areas where you want other plants to grow.

When using natural weed killers, it's essential to apply them carefully and consider their potential impact on surrounding plants and the environment. Additionally, persistence in weed control practices, such as regular manual weeding and promoting healthy soil, can contribute to long-term success.

Weed Barriers

A weed barrier is a layer of geotextile fabric, plastic, or cardboard put below soil and mulch to stop weed seeds from getting the light they need to sprout and come through the soil. Weed barriers make weeding easier in veg and flower beds.

Chemical Control

While chemical weed control, such as herbicides, is a quick and efficient method, it comes with its share of concerns. Killing weeds with weed killer can result in weedkiller damage to other plants and may have adverse effects on the environment.

Organic Herbicides

For those who are conscious of the potential drawbacks of chemical weed control, there are organic herbicides available. These products offer a middle ground, providing effective weed management without the environmental concerns associated with conventional herbicides.

Gardening Basics for Weed Prevention

Preventing weed growth begins with understanding the conditions that favour their germination. Proper watering is essential; however, watering weeds inadvertently can encourage their growth. Strategic watering around desired foliage helps control weeds without promoting their spread.

The Role of Herbicides in Weed Management

Chemical control, despite its drawbacks, remains a prevalent method in the gardening world. Understanding the types of herbicides and their application is crucial for effective weed control.

Selective Herbicides

Selective herbicides target specific types of weeds, allowing you to control weeds in lawns without harming the grass. This is particularly useful when dealing with a variety of weed species in different parts of your garden.

Non-Selective Herbicides

Non-selective herbicides, on the other hand, are broad-spectrum and can kill a wide range of plants. Extreme caution is necessary when using non-selective herbicides to avoid unintended damage to desirable plants.

Crafting a Weed-Free Garden

The battle against weeds is an ongoing process that requires a combination of methods. From organic mulches to selective herbicides, each approach has its merits and drawbacks. A guide to weeds wouldn't be complete without emphasising the importance of persistence and regular maintenance in the control of garden weeds. Marestail UK uses many weed control methods and knows different ways of weed control that work best on certain weeds that are a big threat.

By understanding the types of weeds, employing effective weed control methods, and adapting your strategy as needed, you can cultivate a garden that flourishes with the plants you desire. Whether you choose to go the organic route or opt for chemical control, the key is to strike a balance that ensures a healthy and vibrant garden for years to come. Happy gardening!

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