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How to clear a garden full of weeds

Weeds and unwanted plants in the garden can be a real nuisance, especially if they keep growing back. In this guide we look at how to clear a garden full of weeds, and the options for dealing with the problem so that your garden stays looking as you want it to.

Weeds and unwanted plants in the garden can be a real nuisance, especially if they keep growing back. In this guide, we look at how to clear a garden full of weeds, and the options for dealing with the problem so that your garden stays looking as you want it to.

Whether you’ve just bought a new property or you’ve let your existing garden become overgrown and now you want to rid yourself of a garden full of weeds, we’re here to help.

How do I clear my garden full of weeds?

When it comes to the best way to clear weeds from your garden, you have a number of options to choose from:

Gardener clearing weeds from gardenUse hand tools

One of the simplest ways to clear a garden full of weeds is by hand – though you’ll need to be ready for some hard work if you’re weeding an entire garden.

Depending on the size of the weeds, you can either start by pulling them out by hand if they’re small enough. If you have some whopping great weeds on your hands, then you’ll want to start by using loppers and shears to cut them down to a manageable size.

Once you’ve cut back all the weeds, grab your spade and turn over the soil. You might even want to consider double digging, where you dig out the top layer of soil and then dig a new trench at twice the depth that you fill with fresh soil.

A word of warning, this approach involves a lot of manual work and you’ll need to be physically fit to completely clear your whole garden of weeds. If you don’t have the time or energy for the hard graft, consider hiring a gardener to do the work for you.


One of the best ways to clear weeds from garden spaces is mulching, which will also provide you with a brilliant foundation for a flourishing garden.

You’ll need to start by trimming down any large weeds and then leave the off-cuts on the ground. You then cover the whole area in cardboard and pile on leaves as high as you can, leaving it to rot.

The cardboard layer creates a lack of light for the weeds underneath, which will kill them off. Then the rotting leaves, cardboard and dead weeds will create a rich source of nutrients on which you can then use for your desired plants.

If you don’t fancy the hassle, then take a look at our guide to mulching costs.

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Spray weed killer

If you’re not planning to use your garden for planting anything new for a few years and you simply want to clear the whole area of weeds, weed killers could be an option. Using weed killers is a fast and effective but hardcore way of ridding yourself of weeds. They’re also very toxic, so shouldn’t be used in gardens where children or pets will be playing.

Weeds growing in a gardenSpray all the weeds with weed killer and leave them to die. Then respray a month or so later to make sure all weeds have been killed. But remember, the presence of the weed killer in the soil afterwards will mean you won’t be able to grow any plants for a long while afterwards.

If you’re worried about handling toxic substances yourself, hire a professional gardener to do the work for you.

Weed burners/torches

Some homeowners find that weed burners offer them a great way to clear garden weeds without using weed killers. A weed burner uses a hot flame to burn the weeds, fuelled by a small gas tank.

Due to the nature of a weed burner, this approach comes with a risk of causing a fire in the garden and must therefore be carried out with caution. If in doubt, seek help from a professional gardener or weed burner specialist before carrying out the work yourself.

Hire a professional

When a garden is overrun with unwanted plants and weeds, it can be a big job. And even more frustratingly, if not done properly the weeds will simply grow back.

Here are some of the reasons why hiring a professional gardener to clear your garden full of weeds might be the best solution:

  • Hiring a gardener to clear your garden of weeds will save you time and a lot of effort
  • A professional gardener will choose the right method for you and your garden
  • Gardeners can provide a long-lasting solution, where DIY attempts often leave weeds that grow back
  • Gardeners will look to remove weeds whilst improving the overall health and appearance of your garden at the same time

How to clear an area of weeds for a wildflower garden

If you’ve got a beautiful wildflower garden, you’re going to want to keep it looking beautiful, and therefore weed killers and herbicides are a no-no. You’ll need to make sure the ground is left in good condition for the continued growth of your flowers.

To avoid encouraging unwanted weeds to grow among your blossoming wildflowers, it’s often sensible to approach weed removal in two stages:

  • Step 1 – Ensure you thoroughly remove all weeds before planting any wildflower seeds, using any of the methods we mentioned above (except using weed killers).
  • Step 2 – Check for weeds at least once a month (or more often during periods of rain), and if you spot any make sure you pull them out when the soil is moist to avoid leaving roots behind.
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How to clear grass and weeds for a garden: The no dig method

The no dig method is a very good option for clearing grass and weeds in a garden. The principle behind the no dig method is that you don’t disrupt the soil life, which leaves microorganisms, fungi and worms intact to do their job of feeding your plant roots.

Wheelbarrow full of weedsYou’ll need a large amount of organic matter, such as homemade compost, green waste compost or bagged peat-free compost. And here’s how to do it:

  1. Apply decomposed mulch to the area you want to clear of grass and weeds
  2. Firm down the mulch into place
  3. Plant or sow directly into the surface compost
  4. Use a trowel to remove any weeds that grow back amidst the mulch

You’ll need to regularly maintain the area by applying a small amount of fresh compost each year. Ideally, do this in the autumn when crops are cleared or in the spring if you’ve had winter crops growing.

How to use clear plastic cover to kill garden weeds

Clear plastic can be used to kill garden weeds as it increases the temperature of the soil underneath, which can kill weed seeds and roots.

That said, the results won’t be as good as using black plastic. Clear plastic will still allow light to reach the weeds, whereas black plastic will both increase the soil temperature and block out the light – a double whammy for killing weeds.


Can you kill weeds in a garden with clear visqueen (polythene sheet)?

Yes. A clear polythene sheet is a very effective, non-chemical way to treat weeds. That said, it often won’t get rid of 100% of weeds because it lets in some light. Using a black plastic sheet works best as it will completely block out light, which then kills the weeds.

How do I kill weeds in my vegetable garden?

Weeds are a real pain for vegetable growers, but they can easily be dealt with if you spend 10 minutes a day checking and weeding manually. You can also use plastic weed barriers on the soil prior to planting and cut holes for the vegetables to grow through – this works particularly well for tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers. Just keep an eye out for weeds that continue to grow under the barrier and pull them out.

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