Weed: It’s a 4 Letter Word

IMG_9180 This is my diatribe to the bane of all gardeners. The one true headache of the summer. Those little, practically inanimate creatures that laugh at me day in and day out as I struggle to take purchase is what is obviously their realm. Yes I’m talking about weeds.

Weeds are nature’s graffiti. ~ Janice Maeditere.

Isn’t that the truth!?! I’m sorry in advance if you don’t mind weeds or think they’re kinda cute, this post is not for you. And furthermore, what is wrong with you? Weeds suck!! Grrrragh! I could spend all day spewing out four letter words in my back yard over these stupid plants. How dare they encroach upon my well thought plans. Who do they think they are to challenge my authority in my garden!?!? I can hear them snickering at me right now as I write this.

Being weed free is like everything else in life that would be great but nature won’t let it. For example, eating what ever you want and not gaining weight, or being rich without putting forth the effort. For most of us, these things just aren’t reality. Weeds are something you work at and whether you like it or not, they’re here to stay…. with a vengeance.

So what do we do? What is the key to a perfectly manicured garden? Is there a way to avoid the back breaking work that is pulling out these suckers? Is there an easy button for ridding ourselves of loathsome plants? Unfortunately, the answer is no. Hard work, dedication, and resolve to have a successful garden is what keeps us going back again and again to address these bothersome bastards.

IMG_9173Trust me, I’ve tried just about everything; natural remedies, burning, Round Up, Napalm…. just kidding but you get the idea. I remember moving in to this home 3 years ago and going after the dandelions like a beast. I thought, if I can get them all out this summer and the summer after that, maybe I can permanently alter my backyard’s ecosystem. Guess what, it didn’t work. I’m continuously accosted by this species and all of their bretheren. At some point you realize that there is nothing to be done. Changing the weed culture of your back yard is much like trying to literally turn the tide, it’s beyond your control.

Crabgrass can grow on bowling balls in airless rooms, and there is no known way to kill it that does not involve nuclear weapons. ~ Dave Barry.

But do not despair, there are some methods I use that are fairly successful at keeping this drama at least manageable. After all, I have to if I want my garden to be healthy and pretty right? But remember, there is no easy button. Weeding is work and it sucks, the end!


What methods to use where:

Kill em all!

For areas that are gravelly or pavement where you don’t care about killing the ground you can use chemicals. Yes, they are not environmentally friendly and yes you’re probably endorsing controversial companies like Monsanto. But they work. They kill everything within several feet of where you spray, which is scary when you think about it. I often wrestle with purchasing the stuff or not simply out of principle. Still, it is gratifying to watch it all die and for the most part not come back for the rest of the season. Do be aware though, it’s not permanent by any means, they’ll return next warm season, the little f*#kers always do!

This year I haven’t played the Round Up game… yet. Maybe it’s because it’s been so hot and dry, most of the plants in the gravel are drying out and dying on their own. Maybe it’s because I’ve had a very busy summer and I haven’t had time. Maybe it’s because I don’t like using the stuff because of how toxic it is. Maybe I’m just lazy…..yeah that’s probably it.


For your lawn, you pretty much need to use some kind of chemical. If you go in there with a spade and start digging, the end result looks a lot like green swiss cheese. Weed and feed products come in all shapes and sizes and do a great job at what they advertise. They kill the weeds while feeding the grass. Oh hey! There’s and easy button! It’s about the only one I know as far as weeding goes but this is by far as good as “effort free” gets in the game.

However, if you have moss in your grass… you’re pretty much screwed. Again, you have to start with chemicals to kill the moss. Then it’s on to thatching. Have you ever thatched before? It’s back breaking work. Basically you’re raking the dead moss out of the grass. I tried it last year for a few hours each day. I barely got 1/2 of my piddly front yard done. I threw up my hands on the last day and decided to live with the moss. P.S. it’s a lot easier to “live with” these kind of things when you don’t own the home. Mountain man and I have talked about completely replacing the front lawn but it’s not worth it if we’re planning to buy our own house in a year.  Besides, it looks grassy on top and the moss is deliciously squishy on bare feet. Honestly I didn’t know it was a problem until MM pointed it out.

Flowers and Vegetables

IMG_9643Now onto the stuff that matters. What to do with weeds around the stuff that you care about. The stuff that you want to grow, harvest, and enjoy. There are lots of methods out there, and believe me, I’ve tried many, but here’s what works best for me:


It is the best medicine and that medicine in gardening is called mulching. Mulching is essentially laying down a layer of stuff over your soil. It deters many weeds from growing and helps the soil retain moisture for longer periods. Win/win right? Examples of mulches include bark, straw, compost, and stones. Better Homes and Gardens made a mulch quiz to help you figure out what kind of mulch is best for your landscape. For me, I use bark. It works and looks great in the flower beds and definitely tames them in the veggie garden.


See how there’s mulch around the onions on the left and bare soil on the right. Funny how the weeds grow right along the edge of the mulch. It’s like they’re trying to break through into the onions!


But make no mistake: the weeds will win; nature bats last. ~ Robert M. Pyle.

And they always do. So you need to know how to remove them properly. The reason weeds are so prolific is because of their root systems. Some weeds have sprawling networks of roots that continuously grown underground. Others, like dandelions, have huge taproots (like carrots). Regardless of the type, if you do not remove the entire root, guaranteed, the plant will come back.

To start, you need to have the right weapons before going into battle: a bucket to put your kill in, a spade and a weed fork (your weapons), gloves to spare your hands from the prickly ones (your shield), water for hydration, a knee pad so you don’t trash your knees from being on them all day, scissors for any deadheading or other such trimming you find along the way, and a frisbee…. a frisbee? Oh that darn dog! Ok, a frisbee to throw for the dog when you need a break.


Ideally, you’ll want to wait until the ground is moist from a good rain. This will help loosen up the roots and make them easier to pull. Your first job is to find the weed’s source. If it’s a sprawling plant, use the forked rake to move the plant around and loosen the soild until you find the stem that leads into the ground.  Use the spade to loosen the soil around the stem. Then pull slowly and straight up. If the plant snaps without the roots attached, then you have to dig them out (which is a total pain). If you don’t dig them out, yup, you guessed it, they’re coming back. I personally have no desire to play the “dig up the beds to find the root system game.”

So I choose to admit defeat for the moment and try again once it regrows. Honestly 1 out of every 4 or 5 I pull will break. It’s just how it is.

IMG_9633As for the King Asshat of the weeds, there can only be one, the dandelion. Oh how I hate this villain of the garden. Do you remember being a kid, picking the poof balls, making a wish, and blowing them away? Um, hello! You’re spreading the seeds!! What the hell were we thinking?? I am never teaching my children to do that….EVER!!!

Dandelions  are particularly difficult due to their taproots. Taproots are big, easy to break, and don’t like coming out of the ground. The plant in the picture, probably has a tap root at least a foot long. So if you don’t get the entire root out, the plant will come back. I’m convinced it only needs a millimeter of root to go full blown butthead all over again. The one in the picture, he’s a lifer. I could make my entire existence about getting the entire root out, only to have a new one show up right next to it. There’s no point.

The best way to attack dandelions is to get them while they’re pretty small. First, take your spade and shove is straight down next to the plant. Then carefully loosen the soil around the taproot before pulling it out. IMG_9194

If you feel a snap when pulling, chances are you didn’t get the whole root. You’ll see blunt ends like this:



Oh goody! I get to try again in a month or two…. kill me now!

If you are lucky enough to get the whole root, congratulations, you got rid of one dandelion. Break out the champagne!


When it comes to weeds and weeding the best way to approach the situation is to set goals. If you spend an entire day weeding, you’ll burn yourself out and be extremely exasperated to discover they’ve all grown back in a week. What I do is this: Monday through Friday, in the evenings, when it’s cool, I take my tools and weed until I’ve filled up my little red bucket. It takes less than 10 minutes and keeps me on top of the problem. I feel like I’m selling you a work out program: Just 10 minutes of your day and your garden will look and stay amazing! In all honesty, I slip all the time, but I do the best I can. When it comes to weeds, the only way to live with them is to accept that they will always be there and you will always have to deal with them. So we must live humbly among a species that has proven far more successful than our own.


Roses are red, Violets are blue; But they don’t get around, Like the dandelions do.~ Slim Acres.

As for the silver lining? There is one weed that has thrived in a corner of the back of our house that we rarely visit…


I swear it wasn’t even half that big last year! MM was about to go shred it when I screamed “STOP!!”


Look at all those blackberries!! We are going to be up to our eyeballs in berry goodness in a few weeks!! So I guess it ain’t all bad…. I still hate ’em, but if they have berries, I’ll let it slide 🙂

How do you deal with your weeds?



20 thoughts on “Weed: It’s a 4 Letter Word

  1. OMG I can’t stop laughing. You’re so funny battling your weeds. I just ignore them 😛 Probably not the best method. This post reminded me of my grandparents and how they would always be outside in Hawaii pulling weeds.

  2. So funny. I’m sure my story will make you run for the hills. One of my townhouse mates loves dandelions in the lawn (actually I do too – did you know my blog was named for them lol). She asked me how we could get seed as she wanted them in the lawn at our new house here. I laughed at her and told her just to have some patience. Indeed. The next year we saw our first blooms in the lawn. Though she has to stop her husband from ripping them out as he thinks they are weeds.

    Sometimes I love to weed. Sorry. I admit sometimes I’m not fond of it. It depends on the timing and the weather. I hate weeding on a 90F day with sweat dripping in my eyes, but it is pretty pleasant when it is in the 70s, the birds are singing, and there is a gentle breeze in the air. Really any excuse to be outside then is a good thing at that point.

  3. Oh my goodness! This post is hilarious and so true. I’ve found that raised beds get very few weeds and mulching helps, too. For the rest of my mostly natural forest grass yard, I still have to hunt through and kill off the unsightly weeds and yank up huge tufts of crabgrass (or whatever it is). Thanks for linking up at the Weekend Blog Hop at My Flagstaff Home!


  4. I really struggle with using chemicals. We bought a new construction home and the lawn was god-awful. I relented and let my partner use commercial chemicals. Otherwise we were just going to be growing weeds instead of grass. Once you get weeds under some sort of control your suggestion of just doing a little weeding all the time is totally the way to go! Also pouring boiling water on them works like a charm. I do that for any thing coming up in pathways. The only thing worse than a dandelion IMO are morning glories. They will take over anything in a heartbeat and freely seed themselves everywhere!

  5. Dandelions really are nature’s most persistent little blighters aren’t they?! I try to catch them before they go to seed or I just watch the babies floating away as I tackle the mummy – easier said than done.
    At the end of the day you just do your best to give your actual plants the space they need and try not to loose your mind over the rest! Good Luck!

  6. This was so fun to read that I laughed at some parts where I recognized myself. Don’t give up you will take charge, but not win, over the weeds. The main thing is to keep them from setting seeds or spread in other ways. Please rethink the use of chemicals especially if you grow edibles. I saw Brianna suggested to use boiling water – it may work if you are consistant. Small amounts of vinegar or salt (chemicals I know) may also work on pathways. But the old fashioned hardwork with weeding, mulching and disturbing the weeds mechanically is still the most effective. Make sure the soil and compost you add is weed free.

  7. I love your go get ’em attitude LOL. Take no prisoners. I do have to tell you though, weeds are God’s way of saying “no way are you getting off easy”. And then I’m pretty sure he smiles, watching. Excellent post.

  8. Your post reminds me of my home in Tennessee. It was a never ending battle against weeds in that yard and gardens. My worst enemy was creeping Charlie. I vowed to never own another home that had that stuff in the yard. I hate it!! The only way to kill it is to burn it or pave over it. Once you have a little piece of it it takes over your yard and you can’t kill the root system. Thank you for sharing your hilarious post with us at Merry Monday!

  9. So funny. Thanks for linking up and sharing with us at Funtastic Friday. Hope you join us later this week for the next party.

  10. I agree I don’t think we will ever get rid of those weeds:). I think we all get upset dealing with them. You should try a dandelion puller for your dandelions it is literally the best way to get to pull them out and get the whole root and you don’t have a huge hole to deal with. I was almost completely dandelion free after a few years in my last house after pulling all the dandelions before they started to seed. Thanks so much for sharing at Dream. Create. Inspire. Link:). I hope you will join us again this Tuesday night at 8 CST.

  11. Bwaa haa haa!!!!!!!!! Weeds are just nature’s graffiti! That is wonderful!! Thanks for sharing on the (mis)Adventures Mondays Blog Hop. I can’t wait to see what you share this week!

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