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I am having a real problem with nettles, docks and creeping buttercup in our wild flower patch - we have been clearing 10 years of overgrown garden for the last 3 years and all these weeds are having a great time!! I don't really want to use weedkiller as we have some free range chickens and have we tried the digging up method for the last couple of years to no avail it seems. Does anyone have any ideas even if it is a weedkiller that won't harm my chucks?
Hi, I would use some RoundUp weedkiller to be honest. I try to avoid it, but with nettles and docks it seems to be the only thing that works. I choose this one because it is safe for our dogs. Basically once it's dry after application its animal and bird safe, so if you can keep the chooks away from it until the plants are dry after application you should be fine :)
Is are the gardners world control freaks sponsored by Monsanto? Nettles are a tremendous resource and folk should think themselves lucky to have them. They make tremendous fertiliser tea and can easily be controlled by regular harvesting.
Gary Hobson

Four of our most popular butterflies require nettles to lay their eggs on, and to raise their broods.

They are - the Red Admiral, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, and Comma.

It's very desirable that your nettle patch should be in a sunny and sheltered spot; and with some nectar plants nearby, so you can enjoy the butterflies.


You don't seem to have addressed the buttercups - dig them out or weedkiller - or the docks - definitely apply weedkiller.

If you buy Roundup, do so from an agricultural merchant  as dilutable concentrate. Expensive, but cheaper in the long run. And follow the instructions exactly!



I occasionally use glyphosate based weedkiller on stubborn weeds in paths but not in beds so I wouldn't use it in a wildflower meadow except painted on to individual plants if I really had to.  I would never us a Monsanto prodcut on prinicpal.

Nettles are an indication that your soil is probably too fertile for a good wildflower meadow and, as a previous poster said, they make excellent compost or liquid feed, depending on what you do with them.   They are also host to native insects so definitely a part of a wildlife friendly garden.  

Green Magpie

There is now a gel version of Roundup that you can use on individual plants. That would minimise the effect on the surrounding plants, and reduce the amount of stuff you use. I haven't tried it myself. Or apparently (again, not tried myself) you can mix some glyyphosate liquid with wallpaper paste and apply that as you would a gel.

Laura Corin

I've used glyphosate and wallpaper paste to eradicate creeping buttercup from amongst heathers.  It worked really well.  It was a slow and backbreaking job, but the alternative was ripping out 2m x 2m of mature heathers.  I've seen mention online that you can use glyphosate/Roundup if you have chickens, but you'd need to do some research on that.

I have a large patch of nettles that I allow to flourish for the wildlife in the far corner of my garden.  Any that I find elsewhere I pull up/poison.  I poison docks and pull up/poison creeping buttercup, except in a large boggy area where I have nothing but buttercups so they just do their thing.  One day I might have time to dig it all out and make a bog garden/natural pond.

well I like this web site but it doesn't say much about the problems that they cause only how they spread which is not what I searched for so maybe a little more infomation would make this website more usable.
Jo Finn

My garden backs onto a farmer's barley crop, there is 5' deep of stingers, apart from chopping off the tops to prevent them towering over my fence, would the RoundUp weedkiller be safe to use? 

Laura Corin

Muffymoo, I have the same problem.  Those country stinging nettles can get really tall.  They are good for wildlife but I can understand wanting to get rid of them.  On a still day, you should be able to kill the nettles without harming the crop, but it is going to be obvious to the farmer that you were spraying onto his land, which he is probably meant to leave unsprayed, so he might not be too happy.

I have tried making nettle fertiliser.  The smell is awful and I have noticed a very severe increase in flies since making it.  Is the nettle fertiliser to blame or should I be looking for another source of the problem?  I have thought of making the fertiliser in a small water butt so that the lid can remain on and the fertiliser can be tapped.  Would that solve the problem of flies and smell?

Gary Hobson

Although some popular butterflies demand nectar plants, and stinging nettles, there's a serious contradiction about trying to grow both of these together.

Wild flowers prefer soil with low fertility, but nettles normally grow in situations which have very high fertility.

Nettles are full of nitrogen, and make a good fertiliser themselves, simply because they tend to grow on very rich soils.

The original poster mentioned chickens. Chicken droppings are a recipe for high-nitrogen soil, and high fertility, and nettles. Where you have had chickens, you'll often find nettles.

You might almost think of nettles as green chicken manure.

Roundup will kill the nettles etc but wait until they have flowered before spraying, that is when the foilage sends food back to the roots for next season so they will send the glyphosate down too. Don't spray if there is risk of 'drift' as u will kill other stuff. Add a bit of washing up liquid to the spray, this will take the wax off the leaf so its takes more chemical in. Chickens are ok but don't spray them!!. Do NOT spray anything which is not on your land, ever..... have a word with the farmer most will understand if they are causing u problems.

Garry has a good point about fertility of the soil, you may also have drainage issues which creeping buttercups really like. Perrenials are laid back souls and dont like regular cultivation. A glyphosate based weedkiller is good and they are not all owned by Monsanto if that bothers, you only invented by them originally. I consider Docks,Nettles and Buttercups as moderately difficult to control there are worse ones. Many organic producers use Roundup prior to applying for organic status, using it once does not make you a chemical fiend some weeds just need putting in their place which is ..... C


I sprayed weed killer over my whole lawn yesterday to get rid of the nettles that have sprouted up. Will this kill my grass too?

It will unless it is a specific lawn weedkiller.  What weedkiller did you use?

Busy Bee2

Tom that probably wasn't necessary as long as you were planning to keep your lawn mowed.  We have wrested a footie pitch from an overgrown meadow full of thistles, nettles, docks and buttercups.  The thistles, docks and buttercups keep making a go of coming back to reconquer their old territory, but nettles really don't like having their heads chopped off, so consequently have beaten the retreat.

Debs, I don't think a wildflower patch is ideally suited to an area which has been newly cultivated from a weedy wasteland.  As a planting plan it is an open invitation for the squatters to come back - you need to change the locks.  When I first cultivate a patch I use things like weed suppressant fabric or plastic covered in bark chippings and plant things through it, then continue to battle back.  If weeds can't go through their life cycle properly, the deep roots eventually die off, and the further you go into your wilderness, chopping back anything that seeds, the fewer new weeds you will get.  Once you have an area which has been free from old weeds for a few years, maybe then think about a wildflower patch. 

A couple of years ago, I removed, with some trepidation, the weed fabric from the beds nearest the house, to refresh the soil etc.  I thought that it would be open season in there, but with just a bit of bark chippings, they are much easier to weed because the invading army has been pushed further back and far fewer seeds make the flight.

Hi all, I'm a novice gardener who is trying to remove a few nettle plants from the top and sides of a wall that dates back about 400 years. The wall isn't part of my property however it forms the bottom wall to my garden (It forms part of an old stable block belonging to the village pub). Due to the age of the wall and the fact it's not mine I'm not to keen on digging them out of the mortar, is there a permanent solution I could use to remove them. There are only about 5 plants but would like to solve the issue before they spread . Thank you all in advance for any help, it will be gratefully received.

Hi Andy - treat them with a weedkiller containing glyphosate and then leave them there to die. 

The glyphosate will travel back into the roots and kill the whole plant.   It will take two or three weeks.

When it's all brown you can cut the nettles off flush with the brickwork.  

As you so rightly say, if you pull them you run the risk of disturbing the mortar.

How conveniently close you are to the village pub