‘They will dry out’: Alan Titchmarsh shares how to avoid weeds ‘reappearing’ in spring

Alan Titchmarsh provides advice on removing weeds in 2016

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In a video for BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine, Alan demonstrated to gardeners how to weed between your plants to keep your borders tidy and reduce competition. With minimum effort and using just a hand trowel, he shared the best way to tackle different types of weeds, including tap-rooted perennials such as thistles, and shallow-rooted annuals such as speedwell.

The gardening guru explained why spring is the perfect time to begin weeding the garden.

He said: “At the end of a long winter – and to be absolutely honest, I’ve never known a short one – the earth between the plants in your beds and borders is hard and compacted. 

“It’s been undisturbed and it’s given all the weeds a chance to gain a foothold.

“And it’s right now with spring waking up, that you need to get down and in there to get those weeds out and stop them competing with your cultivated plants.”

Whilst garden growth slows down during the winter, as spring arrives the rate of growth increases significantly. 

The main issue gardeners are going to find with weeds in their garden is that they will compete with the other plants that are attempting to grow. 

While some weeds can grow in harmony alongside cultivated plants, the battle for space and nutrients often is not one that your plants can win.

Sadly, weeds are usually well-adapted to the areas in which they are being grown and this is typically not the case with the plants you actually want to cultivate.

Weeds fight with plants for water, nutrients, light, and space, and unfortunately, since they’re the stronger competitors, they usually win.

They develop strong, vigorous root systems that overpower those of cultivated plants – especially in those cultivated plants that are fragile or were recently transplanted.

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Weeds can grow quickly, taking root downwards and outwards, so that your plants don’t stand a fighting chance.

Alan noted that there are several different kinds of weeds.

He said: “The most pernicious are the tap rooted, deep rooted perennial weeds like this thistle here. 

“Now, that’s got a thick root, which is broken in half. 

“The bit that remains behind will soon send up more shoots. 

“So with a hand fork or a trowel, get right down in there underneath each one. 

“If you listen, it didn’t snap. That means I’ve got all the root out. That’s not going to reappear. 

“So all the perennial weeds like that, when you’ve loosened the soil, you can make sure that they’re teased out individually.”

The gardening guru stated that gardeners can also find lots of little tiny weeds in their gardens as well, such as little annuals with a flimsy little bit of root.

Alan suggested using a folk to dig them up.

He said: “Now, the great thing about that is if you gently fork them up, you can leave them on the surface of the soil. 

“They will dry out, desiccate in sunny spells. They’re no worry now. 

“But what also this alleviation of compaction does, is it forms a friable layer on the surface of the soil, which in a way acts like a mulch.”

This stops the soil below drying out quite so much. 

Alan added: “It removes the weed competition from the plants you do want to grow, and makes sure that they can get away without being competed by the plants that you really don’t like.”

Love Your Weekend with Alan Titchmarsh airs at 10am on ITV.

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