Dead spaces in your landscape can be a problem and one example for you to consider is pictured below. What do you see?
This kind of garden bed drives me crazy because there is way too much “dead space”. Without plants and groundcovers the open space gets colonized by weeds which then have to be removed periodically. And that means precious labour man-hours are spent on unnecessary weeding.
Plants shade out and out-compete weeds and they also improve the look of the garden bed. You can even attract beneficial insects with the right plants. All for a small investment of money and time.
Now what? Remember this isn’t your only bed to weed so how do you do it quickly? There are two approaches but I can only recommend one.
Some people prefer hand-weeding without tools where you pick at your weeds and pray that you also removed the roots. I only do this with big weeds.
With big weedy beds I find hand weeding too slow and brutal on my fingers. When hand-weeding and debris clean-up were combined on the same day it exposed hand-weeding as too slow. You must stay on your feet, cultivator in hand and press on.
No, you don’t have to suffer. Just cultivate the bed and rake up the debris. I use Dutch hoes or four-prongers (pictured above) to rip up the weeds and then I gently rake over the area. This approach is much faster and it allows you to stay upright. Also, your fingers won’t bleed.
Cultivation haters point out two problems with cultivation: soil loss and weed seed exposure to sunlight. Both are valid comments but considering the condition of the bed there isn’t much to worry about. The critical factor is speed because we have many other beds to weed.
One huge bonus of cultivation is that the bed looks sharp and fluffy and stays weed-free longer than hand-picked beds. I am absolutely certain that hand-weeding doesn’t always remove the weed roots so the weeds bounce back quicker. Cultivation, on the other hand, up-roots the weeds.
One critical note on pile pick-up: keep your piles in the bed edges, do NOT rake them onto your lawn. Piles on lawn edges leave debris that will have to be blown and could potentially get picked up by trimmer machines, thus creating a hazard.
Fight dead spaces in your garden beds by planting shrubs or groundcovers. And if you want to weed like a professional use a cultivator.