Veteran gardeners know that maintaining a weed-free lawn is a constant battle. While weeding is never easy, it can be done more quickly and with fewer aches and pains when you use the right tools. Weeding with tools also eliminates the need to use herbicides, which is safer for you, your family and the environment. Given the wide variety of effective weeding tools, there’s one to fit every situation and budget.
Few weeding tools are better than your own hands in terms of effectiveness, ease of use and cost. Hand-pulling weeds may be the only removal method you need to use if you do it regularly while maintaining the overall health of your lawn. Removing weeds before they go to seed will greatly reduce the number of new weeds that appear over time. It’s also important that the entire weed, including the root, rhizomes and other underground material, be removed to ensure the weed doesn’t reappear.
There may be instances when a weed has gotten too large to remove completely by hand. This is especially true for dandelions and other types of weeds with taproots, and that’s when a taproot weeder comes in handy. They are available in a variety of configurations and handle lengths but typically feature a long, narrow blade with a pointed, tapered or forked tip. Other names for this type of tool include dandelion fork and daisy grubber. The end of the tool is inserted alongside the root as deeply as possible. A slight bend in the blade allows the tool to be wiggled slightly to loosen and pry out the root.
Cape Cod Weeder
Similar to the taproot weeder, the blade of a Cape Cod weeder is designed to cut into the ground to loosen the root of the weed. Unlike taproot weeders, the blade of a Cape Cod weeder is L-shaped, making it useful for reaching into tight spaces around plants. A variation of the Cape Cod weeder is the CobraHead with its curved blade and small, spade-shaped tip. Both of these work well on the biggest weeds and can be used to cut the root underground if the root can’t be loosened enough to remove it completely.
Heat is an easy and effective way to kill weeds without much physical effort. Home gardeners can purchase a special weed flamer or use a small propane torch to apply an intense blast of heat to a weed, which quickly boils the water in the plants' cells and destroys the weed’s leaves and stem. A quick burst of heat, as little as 1/10 of a second, is all that’s needed. The weed may not wilt immediately but will die and drop within a few hours. Leave it to compost in place, as disturbing the soil may bring additional weed seeds to the surface. Since this method does not kill the root, two or three subsequent treatments may be needed before the root’s stored energy is depleted and the entire weed dies.
Hoes typically aren’t the most desirable weeding tool for lawns as they tend to remove turf along with the weeds. However, they can be effective in removing larger patches of weeds. Hoes are available in a variety of blade configurations, all of which are designed to be slid across the soil surface and cut off the top portion of the weed. Warren or draw hoes are designed to be pulled back toward the user, while Dutch or scuffle hoes work by being pushed forward. Oscillating or hula hoes have a double-edged blade on a hinged, stirrup-shaped head which allows the hoe to cut in both directions. The roots of smaller weeds will typically dry up and die from exposure after being hoed. Larger weeds, however, may reform from the roots, requiring additional removal efforts.