Pulling Weeds Vs. Spraying: Pros and Cons to Know for Weed Control

Weeds are unwanted plants that stay or grow where you don’t want them to. Once you see a weed sprout, it’s essential that you kill it before it grows and mixes with other plants. Besides, they take up nutrients in the soil that are reserved for the growth of your plants. There are quite a number of ways to deal with weeds, but the commonest ones involve pulling weeds by hand or spraying chemicals. We shall look at pulling weeds Vs. spraying in this article, including their pros and cons and which method of weed control is better.

Reasons Why Weeds Keep Growing Back

Weeds compete for everything with beneficial plants. They compete with beneficial plants for water, nutrients, and air. However, you may wonder how the weeds in your garden reappeared so fast after weeding them. Some of the reasons why weeds grow back even after weeding them include;

  • They were never completely removed in the first place. Part of the roots remained in the soil, and so, started to grow again. This is the most common reason why weeds reappear.
  • The spots at which they were removed remained empty, and so the weeds will have to settle down again and regrow.
  • The area is surrounded by woods that contains weeds, and their seeds gets carried by wind to your garden.

Here are some common reasons, but the issue now is how can you remove weeds without giving them the chance to regrow? Read further to understand how.

What is Pulling Out Weeds?

Pulling out or digging up weeds simply means removing the weeds with your hands or pulling them out with specialized tools. The use of these specialized tools depends on the type of weed and the location.

Using your hand may be the hardest of them all, but they are the most effective. That is because the hand doesn’t just cut the weed, it uproot the weeds from its base, giving it no chance of re-growing on that same spot. Weeds with shallow roots are easier to remove, compared to those with deeper roots. You can remove weeds with shallow roots by holding the stem of the plant and pulling it gently.

For tougher weeds like dandelions and Canadian thistle, you may need something other than your hand. Digging the soil around the stem with hoe will loosen the soil, so that it becomes much easier for you to pull. If the weeds is still stubborn, dig around the stem further until it softens. Then you pull again until the entire root is pulled out successfully.

Alternatively, you can use some specialized gardening tools to do the work for you. Weeding by hand is time consuming, irrespective of how efficient it is. The use of a regular hoe will do just fine for shallow-rooted weeds.

Tools Used for Pulling Out Weeds

Many gardeners and garden owners use different tools to make weeding quicker. However, the most important thing is to use the equipment that feels comfortable in your hand. Also, the tool you are to use must suit your weeding method. Some tools prefer you stand weeding, while others are suited for those who love kneeling.

MUST READ: Best Garden Kneelers, Mats and Stools: Which Will Be Right for You?

MUST READ: 5 Best Garden Gloves: Review and Buying Guide

For example, tools like the Gardener’s Claw Rake, Cobra Head Weeder, and angled hoes like Neijiri Gama Hoe are excellent kneeling tools that can root out weeds with shallow roots. These tools ranges from about six feet in height to about twelve inches.

If you want an effective tool to remove weeds that are in between beneficial plants, the Neijiri Gama Hoe is perfect for that and is available On Amazon for a great price. It features a sharp point that is impeccable at getting into tight spots. You can use hand shovels as well to scrape out large weed roots.

As regards standing tools, you will find tools like ProHoe Rogue Garden Hoe and Fiskar’s Deluxe weeder. ProHoe garden hoe has a sharpened blade that can give beneath the soil surface to root out the weed from the base in a single effort. On Amazon, the ProHoe Rogue Garden Hoe are available at an excellent value. Fiskar’s is an excellent grip-and-pull weeders that will remove weeds with deep roots like dandelions. At Amazon, the Fiskar’s Deluxe weeder are for sale at a low price that honestly surprised me.

All these kneeling and standing tools will conveniently remove weeds, leaving your beneficial plants unharmed. You can purchase these tools from Amazon and other hardware stores.

How to Remove Weeds with a Winged Weeder

While planning to remove weeds from your garden, you should do so when the soil is moist and damp. This dampness usually occur in the raining season. By this time, the soil must have loosened up, which makes it easier for you to remove the weeds from their roots. However, if there are no signs of rain anytime soon, all you have to do soak the area with water overnight and let the hard soil soften.

Just so that you know, the winged weeder (Amazon link) works perfectly for weeds with deeper roots. If the weeds in your garden is shallow, we recommend the use of hoe or hand, depending on the size of area.

Now that the ground is soft, it’s time to pull out the weed.

  1. Place the bottom tip of the blade on your winged weeder next to the stem.
  2. Push the blade into the soil.
  3. Tilt the winged weeder downwards towards the ground and start to pull out the weed.
  4. Repeat the process for as many times as you want till you have successfully and individually removed every weed.

What is Spraying?

Sometimes, weeds may become so much that manually weeding them becomes impossible. You may set out to use another method to kill the weeds at once. In this case, this is where spraying chemicals would come to play.

Spraying is a method that involves applying chemicals over weeds to kill them off. There are many chemicals in the market that can be used for this. They include pre-emergent and post-emergent herbicides. Pre-emergent herbicides are chemicals that are applied before the weeds germinate. These chemicals prevent the weeds from growing in the first place. Post-emergent herbicides kill grown weeds, but the weeds may re-emerge if the herbicide is not applied after a while.

Post-emergent herbicides are absorbed through plants’ leaves and if you are not careful in your application, it may affect nearby vegetation and beneficial plants. These chemicals are toxic to aquatic animals and some mammals. The more reason why you need to be careful with application.

For spraying chemicals to be effective, you need to ensure that the herbicide tallies with your goals. For example, there is the selective weed control and the non-selective method. Selective herbicides kill a specific type of weed, while the non-selective kills any type of plant that they come in contact with.

There is also the systematic herbicide and contact herbicides. Systematic herbicides kill travel through the weeds and kills them from the inside once applied. Contact herbicides kills the weeds once they come in contact with them.

You need to examine your options carefully before you decide to use the spraying method on weeds.

Pulling weeds Vs. Spraying

Many gardeners love pulling out weeds because they feel more comfortable with it. However, there are stubborn weeds that won’t just work with manual weeding. Hence, you need to apply some herbicides to kill off the weeds. While spraying chemicals are effective in controlling weeds, they have some harmful side effects due to the chemical combinations contained inside. There are some disadvantages of spraying chemicals on plants of which we shall discuss.

Pros of Pulling Out Weeds

  • It’s effective at removing weeds. You know where the weeds are and you just go right there to pull them out.
  • Beneficial plants are protected better because you can see them while weeding. They are not damaged, neither will they be accidentally killed.
  • With the right tool, it can dig deeper to remove weeds that are rooted deeply.


  • You will have to wait until the ground is wet and soft before you can pull out the weeds.
  • It’s time-consuming and labor-intensive. If you have a large area of garden with weeds, pulling them out individually will take so much time.

Pros of Spraying Chemicals

  • There is no strain involved in spraying chemicals. There is no need of removing weeds individually. It saves time and energy.
  • Herbicides are effective and fast in killing weeds. Chemicals ensure that your desired plants grow as they should because they don’t compete with weeds for soil nutrients, water, and air. Herbicides kills weeds not more than a week after application.
  • They are easy to use, compared to manually removing weeds. You don’t have to pull or dig anything. All you have to do is spray the chemicals on the unwanted plants and wait for them to shrivel and die.

Cons of Spraying Chemicals

  • Spraying chemicals can be harmful to the environment. These chemicals are intended to kill weeds, but they can be washed to nearby vegetation and waterways by water. This affects water supply and humans as well. The wind could blow the spray to beneficial plants as well, killing them in the process.
  • Spraying chemicals can be harmful to some mammals and even cause their deaths. Mammals who love to eat grasses can eat the chemically ingested weeds and may die of poisoning.
  • They can be dangerous to the human health. Herbicides can cause skin irritation when it comes in contact with the skin. Inhaling them can also be harmful, and that’s why it’s vital that you wear masks or a protective nose gear and any other protective clothing to avoid direct contact with the skin.
  • Herbicides can offset the balance in soil nutrients, causing erosion and environmental degradation.

Important Tips You Must Know for Effective Weeding

To others, weeding is simple and part of their routine practices. However, it can be a nightmare to others, especially if they don’t know how to go about weeding effectively. In the process, they make mistakes.

Before you set out to begin pulling weeds or using chemicals to kill them, you should read these few tips below.

1. Don’t wait for your weeds to overgrow

If you let your weeds to grow as tall as your plant, you may have difficulty pulling them out. Worse still, you may be unable to differentiate between the weed and your plant. Take for instance, tomatoes and weeds. You will find it difficult separating tomato plants and the weeds.

You should pull weeds out when the weeds are still young. That’s because their roots are still weaker. If you can’t walk through your garden everyday identifying and pulling out small weeds, commit a day to weed thoroughly. You should do this when the soil is still moist.

2. Use the right weeding tool

We have discussed some kneeling and standing tools in previous subheadings. With the right tool, weeding is speedier. Choose an equipment that has a solid handle and one that you are most comfortable with.

3. Be conversant with herbicides

We previously said it here it’s important that you understand the different types of herbicides that are available. This will help you choose the one that suits your weeding needs.

4. Avoid cutting the weed from the top

Many gardeners are guilty of pulling out weeds in a hurry from the top, instead of the base – thus leaving the weed to snap into two and also leaving the bottom half that is rooted in the soil. If you intend to weed manually, take your time and grab the weed by the base. Then pull slowly until the root is out of the soil.

5. Consider spraying a pre-emergent herbicide

If you recently pulled weeds out of your garden and you don’t want to go through the stress of doing that again, you can consider spraying a pre-emergent herbicide to prevent the weeds from germinating. Spray the granules of pre-emergent herbicides like Preen on the land to curb the growth of the weed. Preen temporarily stops the growth of weeds for a period of 12 weeks, after which you have to reapply the product.

You need to be careful while using the pre-emergent herbicide as it can also prevent beneficial plants from  growing. For best results, spray the pre-emergent herbicides after the crop has grown to about eight inches tall. This way, the pre-emergent product won’t hinder the plant from growing.


Many gardeners are often confused as to which method of controlling weeds is best. That’s the reason why we came up with this pulling weeds Vs. spraying article. Both methods are effective in getting rid of weeds in the own ways. They also have their pros and cons and it’s entirely up to the user’s preference to choose.


Leave a Comment: