The RHS believes that avoiding pests, diseases and weeds by good practice in cultivation methods, cultivar selection, garden hygiene and encouraging or introducing natural enemies, should be the first line of control. If chemical controls are used, they should be used only in a minimal and highly targeted manner.
As its rhizomes are close to the surface of the soil, it is possible to reduce infestations of ground elder by removing it carefully with a garden fork. However, eradicating it completely needs vigilance as the smallest portion of root left in the soil will result in a new plant growing.
Tackling large infestations of ground elder in a well-planted bed can be difficult. To get rid of it completely requires time and patience. Try the following non-chemical approaches:
- Lift cultivated plants and carefully remove and destroy any pieces of ground elder rhizome from around their roots.
- After you are sure it has all been removed, replant your garden plants in clean soil or pots.
- The ground elder can now be evicted by digging, or by covering the ground with black polythene to starve the weed of light. It may take several seasons until the ground elder is completely destroyed.
In new lawns, ground elder will usually be starved by repeated mowing, and should not persist for long.
- Established ground elder can be controlled by spraying with a tough weedkiller containing glyphosate (e.g. Roundup Tree Stump & Rootkiller, SBM Job done Tough Weedkiller (soluble sachet only), SBM Job done Tough Tree Stump Killer (soluble sachet only), Doff Weedout Extra Tough Weedkiller or Westland Resolva Pro Xtra Tough Weedkiller)
- Protect cultivated plants with sheet polythene or by pegging them out of the way, and take care to avoid spray drift. The gel formulation (Roundup Gel) may be easier to apply in such a situation
- Apply the spray in mid-summer when there is lots of leafy growth, then reapply if necessary later in summer
- Spraying in the evening will be far more effective than spraying during the day as more of the chemical will be absorbed by the foliage
- SBM Job done Tough Weedkiller (ready-to-use only), SBM Job done Path Weedkiller (ready-to-use only) and Weedol Pathclear products containing glyphosate/diflufenican and can be applied once a season to natural surfaces where no plants are to be grown, and can also be applied under and around established woody trees and shrubs. This product kills off existing small green growth and prevents or checks developing growth. Check manufacturer’s recommendations before use to avoid damaging sensitive plants.
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 4 and 5)
Chemicals: using spot and broad-scale weedkillers
Chemicals: using a sprayer
Chemicals: using safely and effectively
Weeds: non-chemical control