It’s vital to allow garden weeds to grow this winter

Monty Don gives advice on how to keep weeds 'under control'

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A sudden eruption of weeds can be a gardener’s worst nightmare, but before you start pulling them, gardening expert Joe Harrison says they could have some major benefits. Joe, who shares gardening tips on his Instagram page @grow_with_joe and is a BioScapes biodiversity ambassador, told “Before completely eradicating weeds we must spare a thought for the wildlife which may frequent these plants and the impact it will have on the biodiversity which surrounds us if we remove them entirely.

“Plants such as Lamium, Common Daisies and Dandelions benefit our insect population greatly so only remove them whenever they are troublesome and leave them when they are not.”

In certain spaces, weeds have the ability to transform barren earth into fertile soil and improve its development. Experts from Primrose gardening blog explained: “Their roots stabilise the soil, creating a secure environment for life, while their stems trap organic matter, which breaks down in the soil and provides sustenance for insects.”

Although letting your garden become overrun with weeds will ruin your green space, there are ways you can incorporate them in a controlled way.

“No matter how big or small your garden or allotment is it’s important to find a balance between those plants that are wanted and those that are not wanted as much,” said Joe.

“Fortunately, lots of gardeners are realising the importance of supporting and encouraging biodiversity in their gardens. However, some of those green-fingered folks can be extremely torn with wanting a very neat, weed-free, minimal looking garden, but who also want to support the surrounding wildlife too.”

One way to do this is by creating a dedicated weed space in your garden, where plants and other wildflowers can grow freely.

“There are fabulous companies such as BioScapes in the industry who can solve this conflict of interest, so you can have a perfectly pristine garden and support natural wildlife and biodiversity at the same time,” he said.

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“The BioScapes team have developed a range of specialist planters such as their WildPod and NatureArk. These planters are a great option for controlled overgrowth making them a magnet for attracting all kinds of biodiversity.

“As an added bonus these fantastic planters can be neatly compartmentalised from the rest of your garden so you can have the best of both worlds.”

According to Joe, there are no rules when it comes to what weeds can benefit your wild garden spot.

“You have free rein to go wild,” he said. “I have filled my NatureArk with dozens of pollinator-friendly bulbs, herbs, annual flowers and much more all of which have finished for the year leaving behind tall, dried structures and seed heads which I will be leaving for the surrounding wildlife to enjoy.”

How to properly get rid of weeds

Hardy weeds such as docks, common chickweed, bittercress, shepherds purse and lamium thrive during the winter months.

For weeds which spring up in unwanted spots, Joe said there is a best practice for preventing them that won’t damage the wider ecosystem.

“To stifle a few of those winter weeds from appearing you can create weed barriers using a thick layer of mulch or cardboard on your beds,” he explained.

Removing weeds manually, rather than using chemical pesticides, is the best option for your garden, plants and local wildlife.

“If you’re a little too late with the mulch and the weeds are already growing – a sharp garden hoe can be used to remove annual weeds, with the more stubborn deep-rooted perennial weeds benefiting more from the use of a garden fork or weed knife.”

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