Ground Elder Eradication

At this time of year I find keeping on top of weeds a constant challenge.

In my garden, I seem to have certain flower beds that are susceptible to certain weeds, and the bane of my life in a particular bed is ground elder. Fortunately this particular flower bed used to have a pond in the middle which was surrounded by a  low brick wall. The previous owners filled the pond in, and replanted it, and the ground elder seems to be trapped in this area, the brick wall acting as a barrier so it can’t spread to the other beds.

Characterised by apple-green, lobed leaves and flat heads of cream-white flowers in summer, ground elder spreads rapidly. What makes it even more difficult to eradicate is it can creep between cultivated plants. It creates large clumps of foliage that obscure and smother smaller plants. Ground elder dies down below ground in winter, which means it’s difficult to spot when cultivating the soil. However, it’s capable of re-growing from only small fragments of root, making it a particularly virulent plant.This vigorous, spreading perennial is rampant, growing over cultivated plants and making them compete for light, water and nutrients.  There are two options to try and remove it, but from my experience total eradication is probably impossible!  

Organic solution  

In existing flowerbeds, it’s best tackled by digging up the cultivated plants and washing their roots to tease out the cream-white roots of ground elder.  Regular cutting of the foliage, just below ground level with a hoe will gradually weaken the plant, but this needs to be done every 7-10 days, as soon as regrowth appears.  Alternatively, fork through the soil every 10 to 14 days, removing every piece of ground elder root that’s found.  

Chemical solution

Apply systemic weedkiller to foliage as soon as it appears in spring.  A systemic weedkiller works by working its way through the weeds system starting at the point of contact (leaf) down through the stem to the roots to ensure the plant is poisoned thoroughly.  Apply throughout the growing season at four-to-six week intervals, or as soon as any re-growth appears.  The weedkiller that I usually use for this job is Roundup.  It comes in many concentrates, containers and sizes, and  I noticed that this year they have introduced it in gel formula making application to specific plants easier.  As an alternative to my local garden centre, I also use Greenfingers, an online gardening website to buy various garden supplies.

How do you eradicate weeds .. by removing them by hand, or treating them with weed killer?

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Sally Lock

I have been writing blogs and features for some years, specialising in recipes and all things related to food. Previously, I wrote for an environmentally friendly garden website, and have been a recipe advisor for Womans Journal. Mother of three and the ultimate multi-tasker, I am also the Creative Director for Silversurfers and manage all our social media too.

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Liz Allsworth
21st Apr 2013
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We had a problem with rampant Ground Elder after returning home from a three year trip. We removed all the herbaceous plants and repotted them ,washing off the roots, then sieved by hand the soil in the flower beds; and burning all the roots we found.Returning the plants the next spring. So far we have only found a few odd Ground Elder plants and because they are very young are easily removed but we have to check constantly for new growth,

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