Keeping up with weeding is one of the chief complaints that gardeners have, but it’s no reason to throw in the towel. My guest Margaret Roach, the New York Times garden writer and founder of A Way to Garden, shares her advice for managing weed overwhelm using organic control methods.
Margaret is a lauded writer and podcaster. She was an executive vice president and editorial director for Martha Stewart Living before trading life in New York City for a home in the country — a 2.3-acre property in upstate New York. She is also a former garden and fashion editor for Long Island’s daily newspaper Newsday, and since 2020 has penned the “In the Garden” column for The New York Times. Her books include “The Backyard Parables,” “And I Shall Have Some Peace There,” and “A Way to Garden.”
Margaret practices a thoughtful and intentional approach to weed management to keep things under control with minimal effort. Both of us actually enjoy weeding — it’s satisfying and meditative to move from space to space and remove the herbaceous nuisances — but we understand why for others, it’s their least favorite part of gardening. We want them to know that weed overwhelm is not inevitable.
As Margaret explains, the key to keeping up with weeding and never getting overwhelmed is to slow down, not move so fast from task to task, and take time to observe the little changes in your garden. When you are more observant, you’ll notice weeds when they’ve just sprouted and can be removed easily, rather than after they have grown and become more of a nuisance to remove.
Researching the weeds commonly found in your garden will lead you to the most effective control method. Different weeds propagate themselves in different ways, and if you understand that one weed in your garden will spread only after it goes to seed while another is already spreading by rhizomes, you can prioritize the plants to weed out the soonest and you’ll know how to remove them effectively so they won’t come back.
For a full recap of my conversation with Margaret Roach on weed overwhelm, check out the show notes from the original airing.
If you haven’t already listened to this episode on weed overwhelm, you can do so now by scrolling to the top of the page and clicking the Play icon in the green bar under the page title.
How do you make weeding manageable? Let us know in the comments below.
Links & Resources
Some product links in this guide are affiliate links. See full disclosure below.
Episode 006: Weedless Gardening with Lee Reich
Episode 015: Life Lessons on Gardening and Design with Margaret Roach
Episode 020: Gardening for the Birds with Margaret Roach
Episode 065: Tips For Reducing Garden Overwhelm, With Margaret Roach
Episode 080: Putting the Garden to Bed: End-of-Season Advice from Margaret Roach
Episode 101: A Way to Garden: Observations and Lessons, with Margaret Roach
Episode 110: Why Mulch Matters in Every Garden: What You Need to Know
Episode 120: Poison Ivy: What You Need to Know to Minimize Its Impact on You and Your Landscape
Episode 124: Using Compost the Charles Dowding Way: More Than Just a Great Soil Amendment
Episode 155: Managing Weeds Organically: Rodale Institute’s Latest Research, Prevention and Control
Episode 157: How to Prevent Weed Overwhelm: A Practical Organic Approach for Real Results, With Margaret Roach
joegardener Online Gardening Academy™: Popular courses on gardening fundamentals; managing pests, diseases & weeds; seed starting and more.
joegardener Online Gardening Academy Organic Vegetable Gardening: My new premium online course. The course is designed to be a comprehensive guide to starting, growing, nurturing, and harvesting your favorite vegetables: no matter what you love to eat, no matter where you live, no matter your level of gardening experience.
joegardener Online Gardening Academy Master Seed Starting: Everything you need to know to start your own plants from seed — indoors and out.
joegardener Online Gardening Academy Beginning Gardener Fundamentals: Essential principles to know to create a thriving garden.
joegardener Online Gardening Academy Growing Epic Tomatoes: Learn how to grow epic tomatoes with Joe Lamp’l and Craig LeHoullier.
joegardener Online Gardening Academy Master Pests, Diseases & Weeds: Learn the proactive steps to take to manage pests, diseases and weeds for a more successful garden with a lot less frustration. Just $47 for lifetime access!
joegardener Online Gardening Academy Perfect Soil Recipe Master Class: Learn how to create the perfect soil environment for thriving plants.
Earthbound Expeditions: Great Gardens of Italy & France with Joe Lamp’l
Growing a Greener World® Episode 418: Garden with Margaret Roach
Growing a Greener World® Episode 526: Backyard Birds
Margaret Roach: AWaytoGarden.com
The New York Times: In the Garden: “The Dirty Secret About Weeding”
In the Garden: “Herbicides: What to Know Before You Use Them”
“The Backyard Parables: Lessons on Gardening, and Life” by Margaret Roach
“And I Shall Have Some Peace There: Trading in the Fast Lane for My Own Dirt Road” by Margaret Roach
“A Way to Garden: A Hands-On Primer For Every Season” by Margaret Roach
Weeds of North America, by Richard Dickinson
UC Davis: Weed Research & Information Center
University of Minnesota Extension: Weed Identification
University of Missouri: Division of Plant Sciences: Weed ID Guide
Proven Winners ColorChoice – Our podcast episode sponsor and Brand Partner of joegardener.com
Earth’s Ally – Our podcast episode sponsor and Brand Partner of joegardener.com
Soil3 – Our podcast episode sponsor and Brand Partner of joegardener.com
Greenhouse Megastore – Our podcast episode sponsor and Brand Partner of joegardener.com – Enter code JOEGARDENER for 15% off your order
Disclosure: Some product links in this guide are affiliate links, which means we get a commission if you purchase. However, none of the prices of these resources have been increased to compensate us, and compensation is not an influencing factor on their inclusion here. The selection of all items featured in this post and podcast were based solely on merit and in no way influenced by any affiliate or financial incentive, or contractual relationship. At the time of this writing, Joe Lamp’l has professional relationships with the following companies who may have products included in this post and podcast: Corona Tools, Milorganite, Soil3, Greenhouse Megastore, Territorial Seed Company, Earth’s Ally, Proven Winners ColorChoice and Dramm. These companies are either Brand Partners of joegardener.com and/or advertise on our website. However, we receive no additional compensation from the sales or promotion of their product through this guide. The inclusion of any products mentioned within this post is entirely independent and exclusive of any relationship.