Lord, my seeds haven't spouted, but the weeds have already established themselves all over the garden! I am also clearing a small grass area to put in a new garden. This isn't bluegrass I'm removing, but tenacious, deep-rooted, sod-forming evil that sends out long tangles of orange rhizomes. So I am pulling weeds by hand. One of the necessary labors of gardening. I try to think of it as good exercise.
Whether you have a maintenance free garden (a true oxymoron unless you employ a full time gardener), just a small yard with few flowers, or a large flower and vegetable garden like mine, every garden has weeds, and someone has to get rid of them.
Weeds have been defined as any plant in the wrong place. By this definition, along with all the plants considered weeds like sorrel, dandelion and shepherd's purse, any sprout from a plant you bought can be a weed if found growing in the wrong place. A persistent or too prolific nature, and frequent uninvited appearances often label a plant weedy.
There is relief from weeds, but no cure. Products like Roundup™ (generically called glyphosate) and other herbicides make killing weeds easier. Weed mats and mulch make suppressing them more efficient. However, you can't use glyphosate everywhere, especially around water gardens, and it doesn't work well on woody plants like vines, shrubs, and perennials with tuberous roots like iris and daylilies. Sometimes you have to use two or more applications to get rid of the weed, while any of the chemical that lands on a nearby desired plant kills it immediately. Gardeners have learned, much to our misfortune that some herbicides while effective, are dangerous. Manufactures removed them from the market. Herbicides can also be expensive. Weed mats work great for a few years, but removing them can be a hassle, as can putting down new ones in an established garden. And mulch needs replacing every year or two.
I hate hoeing and find heavy mulch is more efficient, but some weeds can come up through the deepest mulch and enjoy its benefits as much as the plants meant to enjoy it do. So my weeding is usually done on my knees. This also allows me to get close enough to make sure I'm not pulling out an un-established plant I bought last year. (This is why I weed the garden -- my helpmate can't tell the difference between a good plant and a weed.) Yes, it's come to that. When I get up close and personal, I recognize the bad seedlings and ruthlessly pluck them out. Like all alien armies, reinforcements will soon arrive, so unrelenting patrol is required to defend the garden's ground.
Often there is no easy way to get rid of weeds except the time honored one of hoeing, tilling and hand pulling. Sometimes you just have to get down in the dirt. Luckily, last year I found the tool of my dreams to handle weeds. I bought a Dutch made V-groove pick which I have found to be the best tool for weeding. The hook goes into the ground easily and pulls weeds up the roots. Anyone who weeds knows there are some with amazingly long roots. Some roots reach deep into the soil and others journey long distances in every direction. The hook gets them all. It also has a small profile that works in cramped places. The tool can also be used on its flat side. It slides through the top of the soil pulling weeds out as it moves. It looks wicked doesn't it? With this tool I feel rather Ninja-like while wielding it, but I'm afraid I come away from weeding looking a wreck, sweaty, covered in sand, and bone weary. Isn't exercise great?
The next picture is just for fun. Here is Winston who is one of my garden buddies waiting on top of the gate (you can't see the deer mesh fence.) Not bad balancing for twenty pounds of feline.