Learn about three weeding tools and the weeds they tackle.
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Weeds are the nuisance of gardeners everywhere. While there's no getting around the fact that weeds are everywhere, master gardener Paul James prefers to get rid of weeds by using mechanical methods, rather than relying on herbicides, organic or synthetic. This means either pulling them by hand or using some mechanical device. Here are three devices useful in the war on weeds.
James has used the first tool for years. At one end, there are prongs that look like nails and a sliding, spring-loaded mechanism. At the other end, there's a crank.
With very little effort, the weed is spun right out of the ground. Slide the spring-loaded mechanism toward the weed, and it pops right off. "This weeder works especially well with grassy weeds, such as crabgrass, or those with deep taproots, like dandelions."
The second tool also features prongs and a spring-loaded mechanism (or plate), but it works in an entirely different fashion.
Here stab the prongs into the soil on one side of the weed. Step on the plate opposite the prongs, and the weed pops out of the ground. This tool is good for control of grassy weeds. However, it is ineffective on weeds with deep taproots because it tends to snap the taproot in half, rather than lifting it up out of the ground completely. In many cases, the weed may ultimately return.
The last weed device is based on a simple design that is hundreds of years old. It has a wooden handle with a corkscrew attached at one end. To use, stab the corkscrew into the center of a weed, give the handle a few turns, and the weed comes out of the ground with little effort.
"What I like most about these tools is their long handles because it means you don't have to bend over and strain your back while weeding," says James.