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I've been reading all the threads on ground elder so I know I might be at risk of going over old ground with this topic.  We moved here 6 months ago.  It is a big garden with lots of work needing doing and I think I have found ground elder in a rather large flower bed.  I've not come across it before, but whatever it is, the bed is riddled with it.  I don't think it's been weeded for about 2 years so I have a job on my hands.  Anyway, my question is how to deal with it in a bed with quite a few established plants.  There are 2 mini trees in it and lots of rose bushes and a fair few bulbs.  The stuff I've read is dig up all the plants, wash the roots, plant them in pots and tackle the bed organically or with weed killer.  I don't really want to dig up all the plants and am quite desperate to get some of my plants out of pots back into beds as some of them have been waiting over a year to go back into the ground.  I'm a busy mum with too much to do so I probably won't be weeding as often as I need to, so what is the best method and when?


Lots of people just live with the ground elder Emma, spray/paint what you can without letting in get on the plants you wany to keep. Pull off/dig up where you can't spray and put up with the rest. It doesn't give up easily


I agree with nutcutlet - unless you're a perfectionist it's perfectly possible to live with it.  Before long it will flower - chop the flowers off before they seed 

Oh dear, we have exactly the same problem.  My partner and I both work long hours, full time, so have very little time for weeding the ground elder.  I would say that if it's only in one bed, get rid of it no matter the time it takes because it spreads VERY quickly elsewhere! 

Roundup is okay but doesn't work quickly or 100%.  The only effective (but time consuming and annoying) way I have found is to dig out all the roots.  It really will grow from the tiniest bit of root so be thorough.  They're quite easy to identify but I did mistake a baby tree paeonie for ground elder the other day and quickly replanted it!

If you need any moral support or advice, just let me know.  We have ground elder throughout the front garden and around 3 of the 4 edges of the back garden (over 200ft in total!) 




Thanks all for the replies.  I intend to dig it over as best I can but odds are I'm going to miss bits so might try the weedkiller as well.  Is there a best time of year to use weedkiller?



The advice here is spot on Emma. The best time to apply is when there's something to put it on, so wait till you can clearly see some growth. You'll need to keep on top of it and apply throughout the year, as well as pulling out where you can etc, but it's the way it is with most of these types of weed unfortunately. 

Hello, I was advised once by a professional gardener the best way to get rid of ground elder is weedkiller, the best way to apply is to wait until they are just about to flower as all the energy is going into making the flower which puts the plant at a weeker stage and less likely to fight off the weed killer, bash the plant a lot to bruise and damage it further to weaken the plant further again, and then apply the weedkiller, the plant will be very week from producing flowers and also from being bashed and bruised  it will not be able to fight off the weedkiller as easily.

Ive not tried it but it kinda makes sense to me.

Good luck



Hi Emma, I managed to get rid of it in a border by removing all the plants and then sieving the soil down to about a spade and a half depth, hard work but got rid of it completely for about 3 years and its only just coming back in a small area but I think that's coming under the fence from next door.  Sieving the soil did the border a massive favour, everything that got put back in the border took off like a rocket!  Weed killer is probably the next best option.


Thanks again all for responses.  A lot of good advice here   Now the hard work begins!

I think I've managed to get on top of my ground elder problem.  I waited until the leaves uncurled and then sprayed them with Roundup, as advised.  It's the second year I've sprayed, and they are coming up much less.  Be careful not to let the spray drift onto other plants, but if they are quite woody stemmed plants, they will be ok.  Keep looking amongst the surrounding plants during the spring and summer, and spray each leaf you find as it appears.  I have a totally unkempt garden next to mine and am constantly fighting ground elder, brambles, ivy  and worst of all - bindweed!  Good luck.


Thanks.  I've sprayed them with some stuff recommended by the garden centre but it is in amongst so many plants I couldn't be thorough.  I think I might have to just try weeding it out as well and get to know the bed a bit better and what all the other plants are.  I'm a bit of an amateur if I'm honest!


Don't weed if you've sprayed - let the spray work and turn the leaves brown and shrivelled - it may take several weeks.  When the leaves are dead it means that the spray has travelled down the stems to the roots and is killing them.  If you pull the leaves off before this has happened the roots won't die.


Ah, thanks.  Well with 3 kids I have plenty to be getting on with in the meantime

hello there I am a gardener in north wales I have specific experience in problems like ground elder, and have dealt with it many times. I managed to get rid of 99% of it from one bed in just 1yr..iv had to than manage, Good news it that's its not the worst weed to have on these fair isles...oh no! horse tail, is in my experience a bigger problem to get rid of than ground elder, but that may be due to the fact that I have more patience than a person needs really, what iv found the most effective way is to start at point A..say a square foot and dig out the soil to a depth of a spade and put that to one side.I Place In old compost bag...and (If you have the patience) start by gently but firmly shoving the fork into the ground and levering the fork into the hole(bit you dug out) where you can go through it and basically salvaging the soil back of the pesky ground elder. If you can keep that up until the hole filled with (clean) soil then have an area nearby with absolutely no ground elder around it. Dig clean soil out of hole and dump soil there. This is just repeated over and over as you start to "clean" the soil, The challenge really come when its coming up through clumps of perennials on which case dividing and salvaging what you can is the plan. If you manage any of this tediousness then just work up to shrubs, leave that till the bulk is done but cut down if about to flower/seed, because those seeds want to go back into that lovely clean soil, and on and on it goes. Sorry for the essay but I do this a lot and believe me its pretty much the only way to make sure it loses the fight...Eventually !!  

Sion Evans-Traditional Gardener

Mold, North Wales, CH7 1UF


Nice to see someone dealing with a problem without resorting to chemicals Sion 



my mum has ground elder in her garden, when she went away three years ago on holiday i did her garden as a surprise for her but before planting it up i had to tackle the ground elder(before i knew to rinse the roots) i dug out every plant and cleaned the roots of any trace of it and went through the soil  and it did mostly stay out of the garden but this year it is taking over again. while sat in the car waiting for her today i noticed her two neighbours to the rights front gardens are completely covered in it and at the back her neighbour to the left must have it as it is coming in under the fence, it's a flippin menace and i think i would be fighting a losing battle even if i had the energy to do it all again 

Hi Emma, I have just tackled the same problem, my ground elder had been established be or over ten years, last owners helpfully laid a path and patio without weeding underneath so can never quite eliminate without total deconstruction!

I have tho, removed every plant from the flower bed where it is the biggest issue as it had spread into the lawn. This meant I had to remove an extra metre and a half width of my lawn and weed and re-seed, sieving the soil does an excellent job of the majority of it, I haven't used any weed killer but have dug down a foot and a half, if you do it well it should only come back in the odd little shoot!

Good luck! 


This is a two year old thread now, so I've been tackling this stuff for two years.  Not so much a beginner now!  It's tricky as a busy mum I don't have the time to do this organically, I'm struggling just to stop it going to seed etc.  Both my neighbours have it and one doesn't tackle it at all, so I'm fighting a losing battle really.  I've also discovered bush vetch, brambles, nettles and many many more.  I'm definitely in a weed war!  Thanks for all the tips.


Takes a long time to eradicate.  You just have to keep on digging it up.  Even the tiny little white suckers produce more of the rotten stuff.  I've been digging it up and spraying it for close on 14 years.  Still not got rid of it but it is not as bad as it use to be and only left in one part of the garden now.  A tip is to do the weeding only after a lot of rain and get out there while the leaves are starting to sprout - before it has time to produce big leaves.  Then follow up with constant turning over of the soil and picking out the remaining bits.  No amount of weedkilling will eradicate it.  It's a long hard slog I'm afraid.  You'll get there in the end.

Steve the Gardening Vet

I have one small patch and I use a combination of digging it out as far as I can (some of it is mixed in with day lillies and if you have ever tried to divide them, you will know there actually is no soil and just a woody clump of roots so that isn't particularly useful!), chopping the leaves off to tire the plants and weaken them and a bit of carefully applied topical glyphosate.

Still comes back!

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