Weeding and thinning flower seedlings


Use tools to remove weeds and gently pull out overcrowded flower seedlings by hand.

  • Estimated time: 30 minutes
  • Location: Outdoors
  • School term: All year round
  • Level of experience: No experience needed
  • Subject(s): Science

Learning objectives

  • Be able to use appropriate tools for weeding.
  • Learn how to ‘thin out’ over crowded flower seedlings carefully, leaving the remainder to grow on at the correct spacing.

Essential background information


Gather gloves and the tools and make sure children are familiar with tool safety.

Find the seed packet(s) of the flowers you have sown to check spacing distances.


  • Gloves 
  • Hand forks 
  • Kneeler mats
  • Bucket for weeds
  • Strings to mark out lines of seedlings 
  • Thin sticks or ‘split’ garden canes
  • Scissors or secateurs (for adult use)
  • Watering can
  • Seed packets of the flowers sown

Step by step

  1. As the flower seedlings grow they need enough space to grow well and to flower. Seeds may have been sown too close together. By removing some of the seedlings, the ones that are left will grow stronger. Weeds compete for space, light and nutrients so remove these too.
  2. Before starting to weed, point out the rows of flower seedlings that you want to grow, to make sure the pupils are aware these must not to be pulled up!  To draw attention to the flower rows, mark with a string on two sticks.
  3. Using hand forks loosen the soil and remove weeds, making sure you pull out all the roots and well as shoots. Concentrate between rows at first.
  4. Shake the soil gently off the roots, leaving the soil in the beds, place weeds in bucket.
  5. Now look at the row of flower seedlings. Check the seed packet for the recommended spacing between plants along the row. Cut a stick to the recommended spacing.
  6. Using the stick as a guide gently pull up crowded seedlings, leaving a seedling either end of the stick. Repeat this along the row, so that at the end there is a row of evenly spaced seedlings.
  7. Water the row to settle the soil around the seedlings left in the row. 

Hints & tips

  • Thin out seedlings when they are about 2-3cm tall. 
  • Watering the seedlings before you start to thin will make the weeds easier to pull up.
  • Keep weeds under control by weeding fortnightly.
  • Use this activity as part of the Spring Seed Sowing and Flower Power class growing topics.

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