Cultural control is practicable where there is a limited infestation; use a fork to lift out the weed by the roots in late spring when the flowering stem has developed sufficiently to provide good purchase. It is important to prevent the seed from developing.
Repeated mowing will exhaust and largely eliminate this weed from grassed areas.
Where seed is known to have fallen on grassland, spray with lawn herbicides the following spring during the earliest stages of seedling development. At the seeding stage lawn herbicides containing 2,4-D plus dicamba or mecoprop-P (SBM Job Done Lawn Weedkiller) will strongly check growth, but well-established plants are resistant to these lawn weedkillers.
Established plants are best controlled using a systemic herbicide such as glyphosate (Scotts Roundup).
Glyphosate is best applied when the cow parsley is in full growth (April-May), as the more chemical you can apply to the foliage, the more effective the chemical is. Treatment after flowering is not effective.
Unfortunately, glyphosate is non-selective, killing any green plant material it comes into contact with. However, as the cow parsley is a tall-growing plant it should be possible to spray the foliage of the weed without the spray coming into contact with the grass. Alternatively, plastic sheeting can be laid over the turf whilst spraying.
Glyphosate can take 3-6 weeks to kill weeds, depending on weather conditions. It doesn’t remain in the soil so re-sowing can commence soon after the weed has died down. If the soil is to be cultivated, ensure that the weed roots are dead before digging to prevent live root sections being spread through the soil.
Inclusion of a weedkiller product does not indicate a recommendation or endorsement by the RHS. It is a list of products currently available to the home gardener.
Weedkillers for gardeners (Adobe Acrobat pdf document outlining weedkillers available to gardeners; see sections 1b and 4)
Chemicals: using a sprayer
Chemicals: using safely and effectively
Chemicals: using spot and broad-scale
Weeds: non-chemical control