It’s no secret that weeding consistently ranks as most individual’s most unpopular gardening chore. But there is some good news in the battle over weeds: Homeowners tired of spending backbreaking hours in the yard pulling dandelions can rest a little easier thanks to proven procedures, clever tips and innovative weeding tools. Here are some pieces of advice from garden and lawn experts designed to make weed removal and prevention less of a problem, including:

Build up the lawn. Cultivating a strong lawn is one of the simplest ways to force out weeds. Dandelions and other common broadleaf weeds can’t keep up with vigorously growing grass plants. The healthier and more lush your grass is, the less room there is for weeds.

Develop the soil. Conditioning the dirt is an easy way to cut down on weeds — and make the ones that do sprout up easier to pull. Using peat moss is a very effective technique of getting the soil into shape. Sprinkle a layer of peat moss over the lawn and lightly spread it around with a rake. This procedure, called “top dressing,” slowly conditions the lawn over the duration of a season so it’s more resistant to thatch and disease – and helps keep weeds from growing. Peat moss also reduces the amount of fertilizer and water a lawn requires. It is also an effective addition to the garden. Till two inches of peat moss into the top half a foot of dirt to help loosen the soil and make it easier to pull weeds.

Aerate. Many weeds grow after the dirt has gotten compacted. You easily can reduce the probability of weeds taking over a compacted area by using an aerator, a garden tool that removes small plugs out of the ground and allows water and air to reach grass roots in frequently walk on areas. If you’ve got a big yard, think about renting a power aerator. They are often expensive, though, so it might be cheaper to gather a group of neighbors to rent one together. For small garden or isolated problem areas, hand operated aerator that removes plugs as you step is a good selection.

Be aware of timing. Go after weeds early in the season before they can have a chance to get to seeding and spread through a wider area. And removing weeds in late fall is a great way to get a jumpstart on spring yard care. Autumn weeds are more vulnerable as they store up nutrients for the winter.

Wait until it’s wet. Pull weeds after the soil is damp Don’t bother trying to yank weeds out of dry turf. It is much easier to pull weeds after a light rain, when the dirt is moist.

Choose ergonomic weeding tools. Manufacturers are developing ergonomic, stand-up weeding tools that don’t put stress or strain on the body. One tool we especially like is the Rocket Weeder website which will let you extract weeds while standing upright. You just step down on the foot pedal, tilt the tool and out comes the weed, root and all. Then press a button to expel the weed, and move onto the next one. It’s actually fun to use, and you will be able to use it to pull dozens or even hundreds of weeds without much effort at all. Multi-use garden tools like a Rotary Cultivator or Twist Tiller will also be good additions to your arsenal in the war against weeds.

Get the roots. Whichever technique you use to pull weeds, make sure to get out every last bit of root, or you’ll run the risk of having the backyard pest grow back even stronger than before.

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