Are you struggling with an invasive ground cover in your garden?
Ajuga, also known as bugleweed, can quickly take over and become a nuisance for any gardener. This plant spreads through runners and seeds, making it difficult to control.
But fear not, there are several methods to get rid of ajuga and restore balance to your garden.
In this article, we’ll explore eco-friendly herbicides, digging out the plants, and even using impermeable black plastic sheeting to inhibit growth.
Keep reading to learn how to effectively remove ajuga from your garden.
How To Get Rid Of Ajuga Ground Cover
1. Eco-Friendly Herbicides
One effective way to get rid of ajuga is by using an eco-friendly herbicide made from vinegar, salt, and liquid dish soap. Mix one cup of salt and nine drops of liquid dish soap into one gallon of white vinegar. Pour the mixture into a sprayer for large coverage or a spray bottle for individual treatments.
It’s important to limit your coverage to only the affected area to reduce unnecessary exposure for your other plants. This solution is not friendly to other plants, so be careful when applying it.
2. Digging Out The Plants
Another method to get rid of ajuga is by digging out the plants, roots and runners included. This can be time-consuming because you must trace the path of potential new plants. Be prepared to dig one season and inspect the next for plants you might have missed.
Ajuga spreads by means of runners–ground-level stems that root and form new plants. Ajuga is tenacious, so be sure to remove all the roots and runners to prevent regrowth.
3. Using Impermeable Black Plastic Sheeting
Cover large areas of ajuga to be removed with impermeable black plastic sheeting (weed mulch or heavy garbage bags). Anchor it with rocks, and leave the area alone for at least four weeks. This removes both light and water, drastically inhibiting growth. While this might not kill all plants, it will make it much easier to dig out roots.
4. Preventing Future Growth
Preventing future growth is just as important as removing existing ajuga. Don’t let it flower and form seeds! Pull all of it yearly in the beds. In the lawn, you can try a broad-leaved herbicide, but before spending the money on one, read the label carefully to see if it will kill ajuga.
If you’re dealing with a large patch of ajuga in your lawn, we’d recommend waiting until early fall (late August) and spraying the patches with a glyphosate herbicide. Glyphosate is a total vegetation killer, so be careful to only get it on the ajuga as much as possible. After it dies, overseed (fall is the best time for seeding lawns.)
Understanding Ajuga Ground Cover
Ajuga is a perennial ground cover that belongs to the mint family. It is commonly known as carpetweed or bugleweed and is native to Europe, northern Africa, and southwestern Asia. Ajuga reptans is the most popular species of ajuga, and it is typically hardy in zones 3 to 9.
Ajuga is a low-maintenance plant that can tolerate various light levels, from full sun to partial shade. It prefers moist soil that drains easily, but it can withstand short periods of drought. Ajuga spreads by stolons, which are horizontal stems that creep along the ground. This plant can naturalize easily and become invasive, so it’s essential to be mindful of where you plant it.
Ajuga is an excellent choice for ground cover because it forms dense mats of glossy leaves that hold their color and stay attractive almost all year-round. Ajuga also bears blue, purple, or white flowers from spring into summer. It’s an excellent option for growing underneath shrubs and trees or filling in patchy lawns where grass refuses to grow.
When planting ajuga, wait until all chance of frost has passed and dig holes just deep enough for the root balls. Space the holes 8 to 15 inches apart and gently loosen the plants’ roots before placing them in the ground. Water thoroughly to settle them in and eliminate air pockets.
Ajuga seldom needs fertilizing, but you’ll want to thin your ajugas every three years or so to prevent overcrowding. Divide the established clumps in fall or early spring and replant them if desired.
Crown rot can be a problem for ajuga, especially in hot, humid areas or heavy soils. To prevent this disease, give your plants good air circulation and avoid overfertilizing. If crown rot shows up, you’ll need to remove and destroy the affected plants since there’s no treatment for this disease.
Eco-Friendly Herbicides For Ajuga Removal
When it comes to removing ajuga, using an eco-friendly herbicide is a great option. As mentioned earlier, mixing vinegar, salt, and liquid dish soap can be an effective way to get rid of this ground cover. This solution is environmentally friendly and easy to make at home.
To use this herbicide, mix one cup of salt and nine drops of liquid dish soap into one gallon of white vinegar. Pour the mixture into a sprayer for large coverage or a spray bottle for individual treatments. It’s essential to limit your coverage to only the affected area to reduce unnecessary exposure for your other plants.
However, keep in mind that this solution is not friendly to other plants. So it’s crucial to be careful when applying it. Use it only on the areas where ajuga is present and avoid spraying it on other plants.
Using an eco-friendly herbicide is a safe and effective way to remove ajuga from your garden or lawn. However, it’s important to note that this is not a one-time solution. Preventing future growth of ajuga is just as important as removing existing ones. Make sure to pull all of it yearly in the beds and avoid letting it flower and form seeds. In the lawn, you can try a broad-leaved herbicide, but before using one, read the label carefully to see if it will kill ajuga.
Digging Out Ajuga Plants
Digging out ajuga plants is an effective way to get rid of this tenacious ground cover. This method involves removing the plants, roots and runners included.
Before starting, it’s best to water the area the day before to make ajuga easier to pull. You can also loosen the soil around the plants with a spade or garden fork to make it easier to remove them.
Ajuga spreads by means of runners–ground-level stems that root and form new plants. This means that you must trace the path of potential new plants when digging out ajuga. Be prepared to dig one season and inspect the next for plants you might have missed.
When digging out ajuga, it’s important to remove all the roots and runners to prevent regrowth. This can be time-consuming, but it’s necessary for long-term success in getting rid of ajuga.
Using Black Plastic Sheeting To Inhibit Ajuga Growth
Another effective method for inhibiting ajuga growth is by using black plastic sheeting. This technique is called sheet mulching and it works by blocking out sunlight and water, which are essential for plant growth.
To use this method, cover the area with impermeable black plastic sheeting, such as weed mulch or heavy garbage bags. Anchor the sheeting with rocks to keep it in place and leave it alone for at least four weeks. During this time, the lack of light and water will drastically inhibit growth, making it much easier to dig out the roots and runners.
Once you’ve removed all of the ajuga, you can leave the black plastic sheeting in place to prevent future growth. The lack of sunlight and water will continue to inhibit plant growth, making it difficult for any remaining ajuga seeds to germinate.
Using black plastic sheeting is an eco-friendly way to clear land without having to use herbicides. It’s suitable for organic gardening and is also pretty easy to do. This technique can be used not only for ajuga but also for other types of weeds and grasses that you want to remove from your garden or lawn.
Preventing Ajuga From Spreading In Your Garden
Preventing ajuga from spreading in your garden is crucial to keep it under control. Here are some tips to prevent the spread of ajuga:
1. Regular Maintenance
Stay vigilant about pulling out any ajuga from where it doesn’t belong or it will gain a toehold and become a nuisance. Regular maintenance is key to preventing the spread of ajuga.
Pruning helps to keep bugleweed under control. Rigorously prune runners twice a year, and be sure to remove any runners escaping the desired planting area. In addition, cut off the flower spikes in late summer after the flowers have faded.
3. Use A Weeding Fork
Use a weeding fork to dig deep under the roots for more thorough ajuga weed control. Take your time and remove as many roots as possible because even small pieces that remain in the soil can take root and spread.
Another method of preventing the spread of ajuga is called Solarization. This method is appropriate to cover a large number of ajuga. For this process, use black plastic and cover your garden with it. Use some bricks or woods on the edge of the plastics. Cover it over the ajuga plants and leave the plastic for 2 to 3 weeks. This process helps to kill ajuga plants due to the deprivation of sunlight. It will also help to kill if any seeds may grow in the soil.
By following these preventive measures, you can keep ajuga from spreading in your garden and keep it under control.