How to beat the weeds

a large fork in the ground with a hand pulling out a root from the soilWildflowers grow fast, but to get the best results you need to keep on top of the weeds. Here's some top tips to keep your Grow Wild space tip top.

So what are weeds?

Weeds are just plants in the wrong place: basically anything you’re not trying to grow. Weeds compete with the plants you are trying to grow, which is why people spend so much time weeding - to give their plants the best chance to thrive.

So get rid of any brute that threatens to out-compete your flowers or steal their resources. If you can, try to avoid using weedkillers because they can harm the environment.

Find out more fascinating facts about weeds from our What Is A Weed Anyway? campaign

How do I identify weeds?

As plants emerge, most are small and green so telling which is which involves a bit of cunning. If you have sown your seeds in a particular pattern then you should be able to identify when shoots are appearing where they shouldn't be. However, it's not always that easy! 

Here is a list of some of the most common plants that are considered weeds (although some of them are very attractive in their own right). There's more information and pictures on the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) website.

We also recommend using the hive mind: a neighbour or relative might know about weeds. Ask for a crash course on plant identification.

How do I get rid of weeds?

Some weed seeds sprout rapidly, whizzing through their lifecycles to make more seeds and more weeds. Others can spread under, or above, the ground on long roots or stems. This means that different types of weed need to be treated differently, to prevent their spread.

These plants need to be dug out, or pulled completely out of the ground:

  • Broad-leaved dock
  • Chickweed
  • Cleavers
  • Creeping thistles
  • Dandelions
  • Hairy bittercress.

For these plants, which are particularly tough, use a garden fork to remove as much of the plant as possible:

There's a whole host of information on Wikipedia about different types of weed control, which you may find useful. 

To make it more manageable, why not have a weeding party: many hands make light work so invite friends, relatives and neighbours to help!

Should I use weedkiller?

We like to encourage Grow Wilders to use low input, environmental friendly methods to grow your wildflowers, such as hand weeding and digging, rather than using inorganic chemicals for weed and pest control.

Hints and tips


Get to know your flowers: sow a pinch of seed in a pot of compost. As the seedlings grow, check them against the ones emerging in the flowerbed and pull out the ones that don’t match.

Mark where you’ve sown your seeds with a fine sprinkle of dry sand.

Share the knowledge: create a rogues gallery: ‘Weeds least wanted!’ Get descriptions and take photographs to make a poster then display it where others can use it.

Did you know?

The dandelion has many properties. The leaves and fresh buds can be used in salads and the roots, when dried, can be drunk as a coffee substitute. The plant is also a powerful detoxifier and diuretic. The French call dandelions 'pis-en-lit' or 'piss in bed' because of this!

Find out more fascinating facts about weeds from our What Is A Weed Anyway? campaign

Want to know more?

Still got a burning question? Check out our Grow Wild FAQ page in case we’ve already got it covered. If not, you can send it in to us from the Contact page.