Are you tired of battling with pesky ground cover weeds that just won’t go away?
Whether you’re dealing with grassy weeds or persistent perennial plants, there are several methods you can use to get rid of them for good.
From using herbicides to excluding light, there are options for every level of commitment and budget.
In this article, we’ll explore some of the most effective ways to eliminate ground cover weeds and keep your garden looking beautiful.
So, grab your gardening gloves and let’s get started!
How To Get Rid Of Ground Cover Weeds
1. Use Herbicides
One of the most common ways to get rid of ground cover weeds is by using herbicides. Non-selective, systemic, post-emergent herbicides can be sprayed directly onto the plants to kill them. However, it’s important to be careful when using herbicides to avoid damaging neighboring plants or harming the soil.
Vinegar can also be an effective herbicide due to its acetic acid content. However, it’s important to dilute vinegar properly and apply it carefully to avoid killing other plants.
2. Cut and Remove
Another option is to cut the ground cover close to the ground using a gas-powered weed trimmer with a plastic line. Then, remove everything but 1 or 2 inches of growth. Afterward, spray the stumps with a weed killer containing glyphosate right after cutting with the weed trimmer.
3. Exclude Light
For persistent or numerous weeds, excluding light can be an effective method. Covering soil with dampened newspaper or brown cardboard and then covering that with 2 inches of straw or compost ensures that weeds don’t get the light they need to grow. This method works best when starting a new garden bed or space.
4. Replace With Mulch
If you’re looking for a less expensive option, you can spray to kill groundcover in your beds and then replace it with mulch. This may take some time to accomplish as well, but it will most likely be less expensive than maintaining groundcover in beds.
5. Use Grass Killer
Grassy weeds growing in ground covers can be killed with grass killer for landscapes. This herbicide kills grass without killing broadleaf plants.
Identifying Common Types Of Ground Cover Weeds
Ground cover weeds can be a nuisance in a lawn or garden. Here are some common types of ground cover weeds and how to identify them:
1. White Clover
White clover is a creeping perennial broadleaf plant that grows fairly low to the ground. It can completely overtake a lawn and smother out any grass. One of the easiest ways to tell clover from similar looking weeds like Oxalis is by looking for a whitish crescent in the center of the leaves.
2. Wild Violet
Wild violet is a very resourceful and unusual plant that can have a taproot or a fibrous root system, and also can produce rooting stolons and rhizomes. The leaves can vary but usually are heart shaped, and the flowers range from white to blue to purple. They can easily spread into turfgrass.
3. Bermuda Grass
Bermuda grass is a specific type of grass when it grows where it’s supposed to. However, if you have a zoysia grass lawn and there’s bermuda grass creeping into it, then the bermuda grass is considered a weed.
4. Japanese Knotweed
Japanese Knotweed is a perennial shrub-like weed native to Eastern Asia. This plant can grow up to six inches and has small green flowers. The stem of this plant is hollow, reddish-brown, and covered in spots. Leaves are green and lance-shaped with serrated edges.
Dandelions are a common broadleaf weed with yellow flowers that turn into white puffballs when they go to seed. They have long taproots that make them difficult to pull out.
Chickweed is another common broadleaf weed with small white flowers that bloom in early spring. It has small leaves that grow in pairs along the stem.
Henbit is a winter annual broadleaf weed with pink or purple flowers. It has square stems and leaves that are rounded with scalloped edges.
Identifying these common types of ground cover weeds is the first step in effectively getting rid of them. By using the appropriate methods, you can keep your lawn and garden free of these pesky weeds.
Manual Removal Techniques For Small Areas
If you have a small area with ground cover weeds, manual removal can be an effective method. However, it can be labor-intensive and time-consuming. Here are some manual removal techniques for small areas:
Hand-pulling is best for small areas with a few weeds. It’s important to pull the entire weed, including the roots, to prevent regrowth. Wet soil makes it easier to pull weeds, so it’s best to do this after watering or after rainfall.
Hoeing is another manual removal technique that works well for small areas. Allow the soil to dry before using a garden hoe to cut off the top roots of the weeds. This method is not recommended for rugged land or tall weeds with deep roots.
Smothering is a slow but effective method for small areas. Cover the area with a UV-stable tarp or heavy plastic and leave it in place for up to two years. This will prevent sunlight from reaching the weeds, causing them to die.
4. Boiling Water
Boiling water can also be an effective method for small areas with young, tender weeds. Pour boiling water onto the plants, making sure to saturate them completely. This method is not as effective for woody-stemmed plants.
5. Vinegar Solution
For organic removal, you can try using a vinegar solution as an herbicide. Mix four parts cleaning vinegar to one part water and add dishwashing liquid to the mixture. Pour into a spray bottle and saturate the invasive plant with the solution on a dry, calm, sunny day.
Remember to be patient and persistent when removing ground cover weeds manually. It may take several attempts to completely remove them, but it’s worth it in the end to have a healthy and weed-free garden bed.
Using Herbicides To Eliminate Ground Cover Weeds
When it comes to using herbicides to eliminate ground cover weeds, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, it’s important to identify the type of weed you’re dealing with and choose an herbicide that is effective against that particular weed. For post-emergent control, selective herbicides like Grass Out Max or Fertilome Over the Top can be used for grassy weeds, while Roundup can be used for broadleaf weeds.
When applying herbicides to ground cover, it’s important to be careful not to spray neighboring plants or harm the soil. To avoid this, adjust the nozzle on your sprayer so that it sprays a jet rather than a mist or fog. Also, don’t pump the sprayer up too much and spray on a calm day to avoid drift.
It’s important to follow the mixing and application instructions on the product label when using herbicides. If you’re not sure which product to use or how to apply it, consult with a professional or your local garden center.
It’s worth noting that while herbicides can be effective in eliminating ground cover weeds, they should be used as a last resort. Hand pulling or cutting and removing the weeds may be a better option for small areas or when dealing with sensitive plants. Additionally, excluding light or replacing with mulch can be effective methods for preventing weed growth in the first place.
Solarization: A Natural Way To Kill Weeds
Solarization is a natural and chemical-free way to get rid of ground cover weeds. This method involves using the sun’s energy to heat up the soil and kill weed roots and seeds. To start, clear the area of any debris or plant material, then water the soil thoroughly. Cover the area with clear plastic and leave it in place for four to six weeks during the hottest period of summer when the soil will receive the most direct sunlight. The plastic traps heat and moisture, which encourages seed germination and plant growth. The soil will heat up to as high as 140°F, which is lethal to a wide range of soilborne pests, including weeds, plant pathogens, nematodes, and insects.
Soil moisture is important in this process, as wet soil conducts heat better than dry soil. Moisture also makes soil pests more vulnerable to attack by beneficial soil microorganisms during and after treatment. Solarization leaves no chemical residues and is a simple method appropriate for the home gardener and small- or large-scale farmers. It may also improve soil health by increasing the availability of nitrogen and other nutrients to growing plants and by beneficially altering the soil microbiome.
After solarization, remove the plastic and let the soil cool before planting new vegetation. A sprinkle of natural wood chips, pine straw, compost, or grass clippings can be added to block sunlight and stop new weed seeds from sprouting through the soil. A mulch layer of 3 to 4 inches thick will ensure that any breakthrough weeds are easier to remove since their roots won’t be as deep. It’s important to note that while solarization is effective at killing weeds, it may also kill beneficial organisms in the soil. Therefore, it’s important to balance this method with other natural ways of promoting healthy soil biology such as composting and crop rotation.
Preventing Future Weed Growth: Ground Cover Alternatives And Maintenance Tips
Once you have successfully removed ground cover weeds, it’s important to take steps to prevent future weed growth. Here are some ground cover alternatives and maintenance tips to consider:
1. Plant Thugs
Planting a thug is a great way to prevent weed growth in an area where you don’t plan on planting anything else. A thug is a plant that will happily steal all of the light, nutrients, and water from any plants around them – desirable or not – and take over the entire area. Thugs easily crowd out other plants and will readily overpower any weeds that dare grow near them.
2. Use Ground Covers and Close Plantings
Ground covers and close plantings can compete with weeds for water, light, and nutrients to crowd out undesirable plants. If it is an area where you do not plan on planting anything else, you can even plant a mass planting or drifts of closely spaced plants rather than with polka dots of widely scattered ones. Most spacing recommendations are based on the assumption that adjoining plants will barely touch when they reach mature size, so stick with the guidelines when working with plants that are prone to foliar diseases.
3. Use Mulch
Mulch is an excellent way to prevent future weed growth. Cover the soil between your plants and along rows with a layer of mulch to prevent weeds from growing. A layer that’s at least one inch thick is recommended. Keep the mulch a few inches from the base of your plants to discourage insect invasions and prevent rot.
4. Use Ground Covers
Ground covers are powerhouses when it comes to preventing future weed growth. They effortlessly fill those tough-to-grow sites that are usually ignored, like tight spaces, gaps between stepping stones, slopes, or shady understories. Once established, they help deter germination of new weed seeds and prevent old weeds from returning by crowding them out.
5. Remove Weeds Before Planting
Weeds should be removed before new plants are planted. Weeds will compete for water and nutrients with new plants, so it is advisable to undertake a weed eradication program before planting. If pre-planting eradication isn’t feasible for you, be prepared to battle with weeds for several years until your native plants become well established.
6. Use Weed-Free Topsoil
An important step in weed prevention is to ensure the topsoil and other covers you are using are weed-free. If the package does not specifically state that the product is ”weed free,” you could be unknowingly putting weeds into your garden. If you are planning a new garden or have a weed-plagued garden, removing old topsoil and replacing it with weed-free soil is a great way to get a fresh start.
By implementing these ground cover alternatives and maintenance tips, you can prevent future weed growth and enjoy a beautiful, weed-free garden.