Plant sense: ‘Eye protection a weeding essential’

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IT is alarming how quickly your garden can become ‘undone’ by pernicious weeds. So how do you go about reclaiming it? A weedy garden can be incredibly daunting.

First ask, are your weeds the lacerating type? If so, eye protection and good leather gloves are essential. Painful prickles are best handled once, so don’t stockpile them but put them straight in the brown bin, a bonfire or some good heavy duty gardening sacks for a trip to the tip. The best pierce-resistant sacks I’ve found are £3.89 from toolstation.com (code ref. 86179) with stitched seams and strong webbing loops at each corner.

Brier-types are a dream compared to couch grass, ground elder and celandine. Their eradication will require several applications of glycophosphate, which is the only weed killer I use. It degrades on contact with the soil and leaves no residue – meaning you can spray your couch-infested asparagus patch before any spears appear. Apply on foliage during the growing season when the weather is dry, so its effect is not diluted. Autumn is the most effective season as plants are withdrawing back to their roots, hopefully taking your weed killer with them.

The cheapest, easiest way is to dilute concentrated glycophosphate using a 5l pump spray. This won’t kill shrubs and trees, so it’s a great way of eradicating weeds. Couch, ground elder and celandine in and around herbaceous perennials is another matter. The only way to eliminate without killing non-woody plants is to lift the plants you wish to keep, clean their roots and pot up for ‘quarantine’. This allows you to see if your plants really are weed-free before returning them to the sprayed, weed-free ground. It is best to get rid of badly infested specimens. Don’t forget to look for the source. If couch is creeping from next door’s garden, dig in a barrier of thin metal sheeting. The tenacity of couch and ground elder is not to be underestimated.

• Rebecca Govier, Garden Designer (0781 750 5571; www.greenedgegardendesign.co.uk)