It’s August and the weeds are growing like there’s no tomorrow. Generally I pull weeds as I go, but at some point they always out maneuver my efforts. Suddenly I look around and weed colonies have established themselves everywhere.

Weeds are any plant in the wrong place. This means all the plants considered weeds like sorrel, dandelion and shepherd’s purse, and all of those overzealous plants that are prolific seed producers or determined spreaders. Right now I have an annual Cleome growing everywhere. It’s pretty and I don’t want to pull it out.

Self-seeded Cleome

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 landing on a nearby, desired plant is killed 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 thrive in deep mulch. 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 put in this year or last year that isn’t keeping pace with the surrounding plants. 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.

Some gardeners give up by this time of summer, tired of gardening. I have often done this, too, but now I’ve changed my perspective. Weeding isn’t a chore, it’s exercise; and I need to get as much of that as possible.