But these plants are ruining my life! We get it. You spend days pulling, hacking, scything, mulching, torching, spraying, smothering, cursing—and still they won’t go away. It’s demoralizing to watch really tough weeds like bittersweet or loosestrife choke out large stands of native plants. Knotweed is like the Blob consuming whole neighborhoods. Goutweed blankets the forest floor. These plants are not leaving our ecosystems anytime soon and we need to think intelligently about how to contain them. Understand how the plant reproduces and gets around. Some weeds spread by rhizomes—tilling them chops and multiplies the roots, and adding them to the compost pile can create an inadvertent invasive-plant nursery. Other plants spread by seed—learn the best season to till them out of existence before they make seedlings. Remember that unwanted plants are often introduced by imported soil or hay. We all need to check our gardening practices and also learn to identify the most problematic weeds.
Throughout this year we’ve been writing about weeds. What about those plants we call invasives? Our agricultural land, our cities, our waterways and even our forests are increasingly being invaded and overrun by bittersweet, garlic mustard, Japanese knotweed, milfoil and many other aggressive plants. Take a break from focusing frustration on these troublesome species and consider how and why they thrive in our landscape. Every time we disturb the environment, there are consequences.
Edible and Medicinal Herbaceous Weeds
Tansy, comfrey, valerian, nettles, Rugosa, blackberry, kiwi, horseradish, groundnuts. Some native, some not. Yep, they can become nuisances if we aren’t careful. We weigh the pros and cons of each plant and aim to provide info that will help all of us to garden mindfully. Sometimes we learn something new in our evaluations and decide to take a plant out of the catalog. We hold on to others because we think they are amazing assets to our gardens, and with thoughtfulness they can be cultivated and contained.
Another set of perceived “weeds” belongs to the animal kingdom. These are the often maligned wild creatures we feel pose a threat to the animals and plants of our farms and gardens. Actually some wild animals can help us in our agricultural endeavors. The coyote is a good example. Coyotes prey on the rodent population and keep other garden-loving herbivores at bay, animals that would love to chomp the bark off our trees or decapitate our young pea shoots. We have a family of coyotes living on the periphery of our homestead, and I suspect I’ve never seen a woodchuck near the garden because of their presence.
Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them.
–A. A. Milne
Dig it up. Digging is hard work, but it is environmentally safe and works well in small areas. Pachysandra has a shallow root system. To make sure you get all of the roots, cut through the foliage and remove the top 4 to 6 inches (10-15 cm.) of soil across the area where the plants grow.
If you find your garden overrun with this ground cover, then you’ll need to know how to control pachysandra plant. There are three ways to get rid of pachysandra in the garden, and none of them are particularly pleasant.
How to Get Rid of Pachysandra in the Garden
Kill it with chemicals. This is a method of last resort, but if your choice is between using chemicals or giving your landscape over to pachysandra weeds, this may be an option for you.
If you spray it on, choose a calm day so the wind won’t carry it to other plants. Don’t use the herbicide where it may run off into bodies of water. If you have herbicide left over, store it in its original container and out of the reach of children.
Cover it with black plastic. The soil under the plastic will heat up, and the plastic will deprive the plants of sunlight and water. The drawback is that it is unsightly, and it takes three months to a year to completely kill the plants. Plants in shady areas require the most time.