Five weeds to get out of your garden

Hi everybody. Nick here.

I have been asked by some of our Halo households, “do we have any advice on terrible weeds that we can rip out?”.

Well yes we do! Let me introduce Ania Upstill who is a professional gardener in Wellington. For any organic gardening services you can email her on

Thanks Nick. Hi everyone and nice to be able to share some of my knowledge with you on my gardening passion.

Preparing Your Garden for Planting: five weeds to get out of your garden

My top five weeds are Wandering Willie, Scrambling Fumitory, Oxalis, Old Man’s  Beard and Convolvulus. If you get on top of these now then your garden will be in great shape for some spring gardening!


Wandering Willie WeedWandering Willie (or, as it is know in less politically correct circles, Wandering Jew):

Wandering Willie is a fantastic ground cover, in the sense that it will cover any ground that it can. This causes a problem for natives, however, as well as any other plant that might try to sprout as Wandering Willie shades out the soil. Luckily, its very easy – some might say satisfying – to pull out. It sends out shallow roots from its stems as it spreads, so even large areas can be cleared relatively quickly by pulling or raking. Its also an easy weed for children to pull, so why not get the young ones involved? Be wary, though – it will come back from any part of the plant left in the soil, and can continue to grow in whatever weed pile you throw it in, so maintain vigilance after pulling.


Scrambling FumitoryScrambling Fumitory:

Similar to Wandering Willie, Scrambling Fumitory is pretty simple to pull out. Its not nearly as invasive as Wandering Willie, but similarly spreads along the ground and can smother low-lying plants, so its good to get out if you are planting. When small it looks a little like coriander or carrot seedlings, but don’t be fooled – its not nearly as delicious.



Oxalis is a truly terrible weed. It grows from bulbs, some of which are nearly microscopic in size.possible to get out most oxalis by seiving your garden soil to remove the bulbs, but this is incredibly time consuming and there is no guarantee it will be 100% effective. Instead, cut off the vegetation that appears above the surface of the soil. It will re-emerge, so this will need to be done multiple times. Its also possible to spray the vegetation to kill it; there are lots of possible spray combinations on the internet. Either way, cutting or spraying will need to be done multiple times, and then the area should be covered with a thick layer of mulch or compost. Disturbing the soil stimulates oxalis growth, so if you are planting in the area it is best to layer mulch or compost and top and plant into that rather than digging in oxalis territory.


Old Mans BeardOld Man’s Beard:

Although not too common in city areas, Old Man’s Beard is a tough and wiry weed (similar, perhaps, to its namesake). Its one of the hardest weeds to pull out, as well. Small plants can be pulled by hand, while larger ones will need to be cut down to the ground and roots grubbed out. Its hard work, but its worth it, because Old Man’s Beard is a vigorous grower, capable of smothering other plants in your garden. Its also possible to spray, and its one of the few weeds that – in my opinion – deserve Roundup. Spraying is best November to March, though, so for the moment get out there with gloves and maybe a grubber!



Convolvulus is a tricky weed to deal with, because it spreads underground through its deep roots and rhizomes. Try to pull as much out as possible, following the white roots underground as you go, trying to pull them out rather than let them break off (where they will continue to grow). Convolvulus is another weed where its often helpful to use a little weedkiller; one time consuming but effective way to deal with it is to break the tip off of the runner and dip them in bottle caps of Roundup, keeping them in the caps until it spreads into the roots. Otherwise, similar to Wandering Willie, its worth maintaining constant vigilance after removing it once.


After weeding, its best to put mulch of some kind to keep the weeds down and the soil moist around any new plants you might want to plant. Good mulches include bark chips, seaweed and cabbage tree leaves (although the finer the mulch the better, as cabbage tree leaves can let in quite a bit of light).

So let’s rip into it!  Ania