Every gardener knows that no matter how diligent you are at caring for and maintaining your plants and flowers, weeds are an unfortunate certainty. And when left unchecked, the insidious plants can start to take over your garden. Although removing weeds can be difficult and timely, it’s a necessary way to keep your desired plants healthy and give them enough room to spread out. Since gardening season has finally arrived, take a look at these ways to make removing weeds easier and more effective:

1. Check the Soil
Here’s some weed removal 101 for complete beginners: You have to remove (or kill) the entire plant, including the roots, in order to keep them from returning. That said, the easiest time to remove weeds is when the first several layers of the soil are moist. It’s much more difficult for roots to hang onto moist soil, making it easier to pull the whole plant out in one go. However, be careful you aren’t tearing up or walking on your garden when it’s completely wet – you don’t want to change the structure of the soil completely.

2. Consider Your Technique
If you’re using your hands to pull weeds, there are a few tricks that can help you make the process a bit easier. First of all, never forget your gardening gloves, since they often have grip pads on the fingers that make getting ahold of the plant a little easier. Use a different pair of gloves for weeding than you do for planting, though, to avoid spreading seeds. Second, make sure you grip the weed from the top of the roots, rather than from the leaves. Pulling from the leaves is a sure way to break the plant off at the roots. Hold onto the roots and pull up, twisting the plant slightly as you remove it.

3. Use Some Tools
Tools are a practical way to ease the weed-removal process, so head to your local gardening store and pick a few up. A trowel or knife can help you break up the soil around the weed, but be careful not to cut into the roots and leave some behind. You can also use a hoe or weeder tool to make the process even easier. Also, keep a bucket next to you during your weed removal – placing the weeds in the bucket, rather than in a pile on the soil, will help you prevent the spread of seeds.

4. Kill Them at the Root
When it comes to removing weeds, you have two options: You can tug them out of the garden yourself or you can kill them at the root, ensuring they don’t grow back. One way to kill weeds is by using boiling water. Carefully pour the water on top of the weed, drenching the plant and the soil around it completely. You can also sprinkle salt at the bottom of each weed plant. It won’t kill the weed right away, but it will slowly seep into the soil over time.

5. Prevention is Key
When you finally get rid of your weeds altogether, don’t forget one last step: prevention. Prevention is key to making your future weed removal a quick and simple process. The easiest way to prevent future weeds is by laying newspaper or landscape fabric over your soil, and topping that with a layer of mulch. Cut holes out of the fabric for the plants you want to keep so that sun and water will still be able to reach them and penetrate the soil below.