Dealing with Ground Elder naturally

If you are unlucky and have a carpet of ground elder in your veg plot, don’t despair. It will take time, but it is possible to get rid of it, or at least tame it right back, without using weedkiller.

This is how we would approach it:

  1. Cut them right back to the ground
  2. Dig up the worst of the roots/rhizomes (don’t compost them – you need to get rid altogether, probably best to burn them)
  3. Cover the patch with black polythene and block out as much light as you can… if they are in a raised bed, for example, remove the sides and then cover so that you prevent light coming in at the edges. Ideally, you want to block 100% of the light, so be as thorough as you can.
  4. Leave them covered for a full year
  5. After a year, uncover them and check to see if there is any growth. Hopefully, the worst of it will be killed off by now, but you may see some shoots. If you do, pull them up.
  6. Cover the patch with a layer of cardboard, followed by a thick layer of compost, ideally 15-20cm
  7. From now on, keep pulling up any shoots that you see as soon as they appear – it’ll take a bit of time, but eventually the roots will weaken and the plants will give up.

Obviously this is not an instant fix, but if you can be patient it is so worth doing. In fact, this approach can be used for most of the horribly persistent weeds – from brambles to knotweed…. Good luck!