Weeding Is Good For The Soul

It is a gardening chore most people dread. I dread it myself, weeding that is.

But it needs to be done once in a while, even in the low maintenance, live and let live universe of the Fairegarden. The worst spots, those that so offend my eyes on the daily garden perusal, get attacked first.

After a rain is best, when the earth is soft and the roots respond well to a gentle tug. The hori hori knife is always at hand for the taprooted unwanteds. We don’t pull every single weed, and we use that term weed very specifically. Many volunteers are allowed to live out their entire life cycle, bloom, set seed and wither back without human interference.

Most of the weeding is done in the pathways, when the taller grasses and overabundant Nigella threaten safe passage. In the garden beds, there is hardly any bare ground so the weeds cannot get going in there. It took several years of planting, dividing, adding new, finding the right combination of groundcovers and perennials to cover the bare soil, but that is the key to stopping weed germination.

Forget weed cloth, nearly all weeds arise from airborn seeds, settling happily in the fibers of the weed barrier and growing right through it, making pulling the plant out impossible. Mulches and gravel work for some weeds, but others relish the fine, open field in which to grow. There is simply no way to get away from having to do a little weeding.

The need to be outdoors is strong in me. It is an imperative. I am like a caged animal when confined indoors. In winter, there are layers of clothing worn, with a top layer of waterproof material. Hat, scarf, wooly socks and waterproof boots complete the outfit. Moving plants, redoing a bed, dividing perennials are things that can be done in winter as long as the ground is not frozen. It usually isn’t, most years.

When the warm season arrives, after the last frost date for our area, which is April 15, after spring planting, it is weeding that is the primary gardening occupation on a daily basis. It is not as gratifying as finding the perfect place for that new purchase, but pulling out offending plants offers satisfaction of a more spiritual sort.

Exerting control over the uncontrollable, making sense of the nonsensical, finding a rhythym and workable method of searching out the wild geranium growing amidst the dianthus and pulling it without disturbing the pinks too much, that is what weeding offers a gardener. It is my therapy, helping to keep the demons down in the pinky toe where they can do no harm. It also makes the garden prettier.

The weeding today was done in the pathway that is home to the great mixture of Dianthus ssp. that have cross pollinated over the years to be a wonderful mishmash of flower forms and colors. To read more about them, click here.


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22 Responses to Weeding Is Good For The Soul

  1. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    The early spring push through here is always a chore but after that I do find it quite satisfying to weed. It gives me time alone. Time to think. Have a great weekend.

    Hi Lisa, well said. Time to think, for the mind can solve the problems of the world while sitting on the pad and removing the unwanteds. It makes us slow down. You too, have a great weekend. Fling is getting near!

  2. Barbara H. says:

    My weeds did so well this last winter – I was really proud of them – NOT. By the time I got to them they were a good size, so I had an immediate sense of satisfaction which is the absolutely best thing about finally getting to them when they’ve had time to grow. As I think about it, though, you are absolutely right. The area that has been well planted and had time to grow was in much better shape than the new garden area created last year – still too much open space.

    Hi Barbara, oh yes, the weeds are having a banner year here as well. It is so much easier to pull them once they have gotten a little larger, too, and easier to identify them. It is those tiny violet babies that have sprung up because we allowed them to flower that are causing injury to my thumb from repetitive motions of grasping their tiny little stems. Bare earth needs to be covered, ground covers are a gardeners friend.

  3. indygardener says:

    Weed, weed, weed, all I want to do is weed, weed my garden.
    I have a long way to go to fill in my new beds which are large, but I’ll get there… plant, plant, plant…

    Hi Carol, thanks for adding in here here here. Planting is so much more fun than weeding, let’s do both!

  4. pbmgarden says:

    Weeding can be very satisfying. Your garden looks so inviting.

    Hi PBM, thanks. My garden invites me out there all the time. To weed as well as just comtemplate life.

  5. Your garden is beautiful. I agree–weeding is good for the soul. Whenever I need a bit of “mommy quiet time,” I just tell the family, “It’s time to weed the garden!” POOF! The children are nowhere to be found. 😉 Hope you enjoy a lovely day in the garden!

    Hi Julie, thanks. I am so glad to hear you have found the best way to have some quiet alone time, well done!

  6. Ann says:

    I agree weeding is good for the soul. Beautiful photos.

    Hi Ann, thanks. Weeding accomplishes several things at once, actually. All good ones.

  7. Laurrie says:

    I love your desription at the end of this post on why weeding fills our psychological needs. On a lovely calm day in sunshine I do get satisfaction by weeding, weeding, weeding. So rewarding. You nailed the essence of a good day of weed patrol so well!

    Hi Laurrie, thanks so much for those kind words. Weeding is a necessity in any garden, we might as well make the best of it.

  8. chris says:

    I love to weed after it rains and if we’ve had a long dry spell I will just sprinkle for awhile til the ground softens but I’ve read frequently that weeding when the plants are wet spread mildew and disease? I’m not sure that has happened-maybe some mildew -any thoughts on that?

    Hi Chris, thanks for adding in here. As for weeding when things are wet, my opinion is that one weeds when they have the time and motivation to do so, like most gardening chores. I would not worry about spreading mildew or disease by weeding when wet, it is a part of nature. Anything with a disease problem should be removed.

  9. sandy lawrence says:

    Frances, thanks; “caged animal” is on the money. It really is imperative to my mental/emotional health to be outdoors. Inside, I’m a foreigner. Cold, light rain; I can deal with it. It’s the summers in TX that are so difficult for me. Can’t take the heat. At least I have first light ’til Mr. Sun drives me in. You’re right about weeding, on all counts. I actually water the decomposed gravel driveway before weeding and find that all except some of the more determined (and hated) bermuda grass come up, even without help of a tool. Hard work, but oh, so satisfying when surveying the results from a bench with a nice cup of coffee in my grubby paws.

    Hi Sandy, thanks for joining in the weeding satisfaction club. Grubby pays, I love that! Having lived in the Houston area for three years, I know about having to garden early in the day then hide out until evening. I wish you well!

  10. phillipoliver says:

    Weeding is not my favorite chore but I’m a happy camper these days because I’ve found someone to help me do it!

    Hi Phillip, thanks for adding in, whatever your method of handling the weeding problem. It sounds like you have a good plan there.

  11. Early in the season, when nearly half of everything growing is a weed, it really is a chore… but I feel such a sense of satisfaction once a bed has been set to rights. The rest of the year, it’s just maintenance and it isn’t so overwhelming. And that’s when I really enjoy it — like you, I relish the time to be alone, to think, to relax, and then to be able to look back and see a job well done.

    Hi Cathy and Steve, thanks for joining in the conversation. Those weeds must be dealt with, one way or the other. It is a good idea to pull them when they are young, but anytime is good for the soul.

  12. Jane Carroll says:

    My garden and I need some soul work…perhaps this weekend…love your blog…as usual!

    Hi Jane, thanks. I hope you get some soul massage done this weekend!

  13. Alison says:

    LOL at keeping the demons down in the pinky toe! I also have a compulsion to be out in the garden, even in winter. Weeding is relaxing for me too. Your wide variety of Dianthus are very pretty, one of my favorite workhorse perennials.

    Hi Alison, thanks. That pinky toe thing was invented by my oldest daughter, Chickenpoet. The whole family uses it, a good description for keeping unwanted thoughts locked away. Dianthus is a great plant, that they seeded about when I was lazy and did not deadhead them was an epiphany. Now I never dead head them, no matter how messy they look.

  14. Catherine says:

    I don’t really mind weeding that much, it’s a good time to think or not think at all. I have a hard time weeding self sown plants though, especially Ngella which seems to pop up all over the place, like you mostly just from path areas when they interfere with walking through. I have that exact same blue trug and I’ve almost worn it out breaking a handle, but I still choose that one over the newer one with two intact handles.

    Hi Catherine, thanks for adding in here. I cannot pull the nigella either, even though they would grow better if thinned. They still are wonderful and I have saved time and effort for better things. This is my second blue trug, both handles and then the side gave way on the first one. What a great way to carry weeds to the brush pile.

  15. Carol says:

    Hi everyone – I am fairly new to your blog and am enjoying it very much. I also live in TN – south of Nashville. I loved your Dianthus pictures – they were so beautiful – I have many different varieties as well and never thought to let them go to seed – I just deadheaded one yesterday. Learn something new every day. I have a suggestion about the weeds in areas that still have bare spots and also for paths. Use layers of newspapers and then cover with cardboard and then mulch. I have over 3 acres and we create new beds every year and since we started doing this, it has cut our weeding by aout 75%. It is especially useful for beds where not much is going to be planted for a while. It can also be used for vegetable beds. I will never buy landscape fabric again. There are books and articles about this – it is called “lasagne gardening”.Best part besides eliminating most of the weeds is that the newspaper and cardboard decompose and help your soil. Keep up your good work. Carol

    Hi Carol, thanks for those kind words and joining in the conversation. The newspaper/mulch method is great, I have used it here and in our house in North Carolina especially. For starting a new bed it is the way to go. For well established bed full of millions of plants, not so much.

    • Linda says:

      Bravo Carol!!! I’m a diehard recycler and appreciate the breakdown of our daily news, as “mulch and weed block, etc” Welcome to a beautiful garden blog and embrace what the amazing, Frances can tell you……….because she tells it like it is…..good and bad.

      Thanks Linda, for that vote of confidence!

    • Nancy says:

      I also am a new member. I began using cardboard and newspaper when I moved to my first home two years ago. Topped off with mulch, the weeds never came up. I was afraid the rain wasn’t going through all that paper material so I cut back to two sheets of newspaper and still, the weeds didn’t come up all season.

      Does anyone know the name of the weed in the fifth picture on this blog? We had them this winter in Michigan. The weather was so warm in March, At first, they were the most beautiful semi-globular white flowering plant…..

      Hi Nancy, thanks and welcome! There is no better way to start a new garden bed than the newspaper/cardboard lasagne method. I’m a believer, too. I do not know the name of that weed, but love it and always leave them to self sow. If anyone knows, please leave a comment. If I find the name I will come back and post it.

  16. Elizabeth McLeod says:

    I always enjoy this Blog and the things I see and learn about. Thanks….Elizabeth in Port Moody, Canada

    Hi Elizabeth, thank you. I aprreciate your readership!

  17. Linda says:

    True that, my sister……………….

  18. Dee says:

    Yes, great suggestions about planting things close and tight to discourage weeds. I do the same. It’s all that works. I hate landscape cloth. It doesn’t work. I do put some organic preen down on the gravel where the worst seed infestations happen. And, yes, I weed. I find it therapeutic. Hugs.~~Dee

    Hi Dee, thanks. I will have to try the organic preen, but there are good plants that germinate in the gravel that I would hate to miss. I need that weeding therapy for my mental health. Hugs back to you.

  19. linderhof says:

    I like to weed but I find if it pulls easily it’s a flower –if it doesn’t, it’s a weed. I’ve pulled lots of flowers!

    Oh yes, not only pulled the good guys, but broken off the budded stem of lilies, etc. trying to get in between the plants to pull weeds. Sometimes you are better off just leaving things alone.

  20. Crystal says:

    Well today it is raining and tomorrow is going to be dry. I’m sure the weeds in my front garden are shivering in their boots. They know what tomorrow brings. I’m off to the dentist in the morning, so I think a bit of weeding will be very therapeutic afterwards.

    Hi Crystal, thanks for joining in the weeding conversation. Your weeds need to be very afraid! Good luck at the dentist.

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