How much does weeding cost? Weeding services explained

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How much does weeding cost? Weeding services explained

Weeding is the gardening chore that every gardener loves to hate; there are so many more interesting things to do in the garden and weeding can be back-breaking work as well. Weeding is not usually a skilled job so you can pay a gardener to do your wedding or anyone else who offers casual outdoor work. You can also spray weeds using chemical herbicides or homemade non-toxic recipes, many people use a combination of both methods to keep weeds at bay.

Most gardeners won’t charge a specific rate for weeding as it will just form one of many garden duties they undertake and these will all be rolled up in one hourly rate. This could also apply to spraying weeds but in this scenario, you will also be charged for the cost of the weed spray. The average hourly rate for a gardener is between £15 and £35 per hour.

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Factors that can affect the cost

The main factor that affects the cost of weeding is the number of weeds you have. If you are overrun, perhaps you have bought a house where the garden has been neglected, it can be easier and cheaper to spray them all off removing any plants you want to save beforehand. This will save hours of back-breaking toil or the expense of a gardener doing it for you. You may also find that there is a bigger task to solve, and the one-off cost of tree stump removal is worth taking rather than having a persistent weed problem around that garden feature that may require years of maintenance.

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Weeding is a job you will never finish

Weeding is a never-ending job, this is just the nature of nature! The key thing with weeding is to never let it get out of control as this will either break your back or require some serious input from a gardener to get things in line again and impact your wallet. Weed little and often and weed more in the growing season when the weeds love to flourish just as much as your flowers or shrubs.

Is weeding a skilled job?

Not usually so it will probably be charged at a basic hourly rate but you do need someone who knows what they are looking at otherwise you run the risk of uprooting plants as well.

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Is there such a thing as a good weed?

Weeds have traditionally been the gardener’s Number One enemy but is there such a thing as a good weed and are weeds just experiencing an unjustly bad press? Here are some interesting facts that might help you look a little more kindly on the humble weed:-

  • Weeds actually knit the soil together and can protect bare patches or earth from eroding in the wind and rain so think twice before you cull them in fallow areas. Try not to leave bare patches of soil or spacing between plants
  • Weeds can fertilise the soil, they accumulate vital nutrients from the subsoil into their leaves and as the weeds die back they create their own fertiliser for tired earth
  • Weeds condition the soil by adding organic matter and they provide channels for air and rain to penetrate. Decaying weed roots also create tunnels for worms and other soil microbes which are beneficial
  • Weeds attract beneficial insects, they tend to flower frequently and this can encourage insects seeking nectar or somewhere to live – they play a genuine role in the ecosystem

Are there weeds which are classified as dangerous?

There are some real serious villains in the weed army and its worth learning how to identify them so you can quickly spot any new arrivals or whether there is anything nasty encroaching on your garden from a neighbouring property. Some weeds can require specialist treatment and removal and probably the best known of these is Japanese Knotweed. Japanese Knotweed can grow at an alarming rate and is sufficiently serious for mortgage companies to impose conditions on new mortgages for properties where the weed is found on a survey. This commonly involves either removing the weed or agreeing on a plan with a specialist removal company which can be evidenced to the lender with appropriate insurances in place. Unchecked, Japanese Knotweed can grow through building foundations, piping and electrical cabling and cause serious damage. The waste from Japanese Knotweed removal has to be disposed of by specialist companies, you may not be able to take it to your local recycling centre or tip. Other weeds which are also to be avoided include:-

  • The Giant Hogweed – invasive and damaging to both human and animal health, this weed is commonly found on river banks or near water. It produces a phototoxic sap which can result in blisters and burns leaving permanent scarring on the skin
  • Himalayan Balsam – this is a non-native illegal plant which is very closely controlled in the UK
  • Wolfsbane – pretty with purples flowers Wolfsbane is actually poisonous but many people leave it in situ as it looks nice and they don’t know what it is
  • Horsetail – sometimes also called Marestail is a deep-rooted perennial weed which can cause real infestations and spreads rapidly underground. Horsetail is difficult to remove by hand
  • Himalayan Knotweed - often mistaken for Japanese Knotweed, it is important to know exactly which knotweed you have in order to identify the most appropriate form of treatment and control
  • Hedge Bindweed – this is an aggressive climbing weed which can reach up to three metres in height. Hedge bindweed grows in amongst other plants and trees making it difficult to isolate and remove without damaging other vegetation
  • Ragwort – the pretty yellow flower that you see on grass verges and the side of motorways, it is spread via the wind making it very hard to control and it is poisonous for grazing animals like horses and cattle

What is the best weeding regimen?

Dislodge annual weeds by working the soil to a shallow depth with a hoe and then remove by hand wearing gloves if appropriate for nettles. Research the weeds you are looking at and work out which is the best time of year to cull them – this may vary from plant to plant and depend on whether you are removing them by hand or spraying but it can make your weeding control programme much more efficient.

Chemical-free homemade weed control sprays

If you want to go green when it comes to spraying weeds, then there are lots of homemade recipes available online which can be made with ingredients you are likely to find in your kitchen cupboards such as salt, vinegar and baking soda. This is a much cheaper option than using herbicides and branded weed killers and better for the environment too.

  • Salt – salt has been used for hundreds of years as an effective weed deterrent, a great place to put it is along lawn edgings. Avoid sprinkling it on the grass itself. Mix three parts salt to one part water and let it rest for ten minutes until all the salt has dissolved then spray either as a lawn barrier around the edges or directly onto weeds you want to remove
  • Baking soda – simply coat the weed with one teaspoon of baking soda paying particular attention to the weed’s stem – this is quite time-consuming and best used for occasional weeds on driveways and patios
  • Boiling water – scald weeds with hot water and you can make this even more effective by adding a teaspoon of salt to it

What should you do with garden weeds when you have pulled them up?

Pulling weeds is easier and more efficient when the soil is moist so aim to weed after it has rained or water the area you want to weed. You are more likely to pull the entire root system if you weed in wet soil and less likely to disturb the other plants that you want to keep. Generally, you should avoid watering your weeds as it just encourages them to grow but if you intend to pull them soon after then it can actually work rather well.

Never throw the pulled weeds onto your compost heap as they will shed seeds and end up reinfesting your entire garden. Leave young weeds in situ and let the sun dry them out and then throw them onto a hot compost pile where they will literally cook for several weeks which will kill off the seeds. Alternatively, you can burn weeds along with other garden debris or bag them and take to your local tip or recycling centre providing they are not classified as hazardous waste such as Japanese Knotweed.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How can I reduce the number of weeds in my garden saving time and money?

There are some tried and trusted techniques which mean that you will spend less time weeding and more time on enjoyable gardening tasks and these include:-

  • Only dig the soil when you need to; turning over layers of soil exposes weed seeds which are too far from the surface to germinate but which you might encourage to come to life if you dig over a fresh piece of bare earth. Only dig if you really need to
  • If you are removing weeds from the lawn then use a sharp knife with a narrow blade to cut quickly through the roots of dandelions and other lawn weeds rather than digging them out and creating bare patches which will just encourage other weeds to take hold
  • Add mulch to soil beds which will keep the earth cool and moist and deprive weeds of light. Organic mulch, in particular, can contain crickets and carabid beetles who will happily devour hundreds of weed seeds. Keep the mulch about two inches deep, any more and you will deprive the soil of oxygen. A well-known trick is to cover the surface of the soil with a light-blocking piece of cardboard, newspaper or biodegradable fabric and then mulch over the top of it
  • Don’t leave large spaces between flowers and shrubs in borders as this just encourages weed invasion
  • Only water the plants you want to cherish and not the weeds or bare soil which will encourage the germination of hidden weed seeds
  • If you are pulling weeds on the lawn try and slice them out cleanly without leaving bare patches which will just encourage more weeds

Is there any alternative to just pulling the weeds up?

If you cannot remove all the weeds because it is just not physically possible then the next best thing is to deadhead them which means chopping off their heads. This will help minimise the ‘seed rain’ that will fall later in the season and with weeds like bindweed, it forces them to use up their food reserves exhausting their supply of root buds which will also help limit the spread.

Is there a tool which can help remove weeds and minimise backache?

Choosing a weeding tool involves two factors, the height you want to work at – long tools minimise stooping and leaning – and the type of weeds you want to remove which should be reflected in the fitting on the end of the tool. You may need a sharp blade end to slice the weed from its roots or a claw to pull the weed up in its entirety.

Garden kneelers can help make the task of weeding more comfortable as low-level gardening can be a real strain on the knees. Choose from a range of waterproof neoprene sticky knee pads or garden kneelers made from a variety of different materials some which are adjustable so you can work easily and comfortably at different heights.

Does hand pulling weeds create more weeds?

Hand pulling perennials is not always as successful as you might think as perennials are often stimulated by root or stem disturbance. Always research carefully the weeds you are going to target so you don’t inadvertently stimulate more growth by opting for the wrong method of weed control.

How can I identify if a plant is a weed or not?

Hopefully, your gardener will know the difference but if you lack experience, it can be challenging to know whether what you are looking at is a weed or not. There are lots of useful gardening websites which can help with weed identification and apps which you can use on your phone whilst you are weeding. Just bear in mind that weeds can vary significantly in their appearance depending on the time of year so always make sure that the image you are looking at is right for that particular time in the season. Ragwort for instance in the spring is a round green plant which sits low to the ground – this is called the rosette stage. Later it will turn into something completely different, a tall plant with a bright yellow flower.

What should I do if I am faced with a completely overgrown garden?

Ask a knowledgeable person to help you identify what is in there – you may want to save or salvage some plants and shrubs or you may need assistance in identifying the type of weeds. Once you have removed any plants you want to keep and have established that you don’t have anything truly toxic like Japanese Knotweed then its time to blitz the area in its entirety. This can be done using manual pulling and/or spraying off with a herbicide and will probably be done in layers for the most effective weed control.

Are there different times of the year for weed spraying?

Different weeds may be best sprayed or pulled at different times of the year; ragwort, for instance, should be sprayed at the rosette stage in the spring but pulled when it is in flower in the summer. Herbicides are expensive and will be wasted if you don’t use them correctly. Many require the weed to be in leaf as the chemicals are absorbed through this surface.

Is Roundup safe to use?

Roundup is the world’s most popular weed killer and is a well-known brand in the UK available from local outlets and garden centres. Roundup is at the centre of growing debate about whether it is safe to use or potentially harmful to human health. Luxembourg was the first European country to ban products containing Glyphosate which is the chemical under review in Roundup. Glyphosate is a broad-spectrum herbicide found in many weed killers not just Roundup and has been the target in some high profile court cases. It is still available to purchase in the UK but perhaps not for much longer. Always follow very closely the manufacturer’s instructions about using herbicides and take immediate medical advice if you experience any health problems.

What is the key to successful weed management?

Weed management is a war of attrition; weeds and the requirement to weed will never completely go away but if you implement a well thought out control programme reflecting the changing seasons and different weed species in your garden then it will never become the horribly onerous task that so many people dread. The alternative is to hand over weed management to a gardener or gardening company.

For more information on weeding on council land and the laws, rules and regulations around weeding, take a look at these two resources from Coventry City Council and government legislation on the Weeds Act 1959.

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