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Ground Elder

The Problems Caused by Ground Elder

Ground Elder is a highly invasive, fast spreading perennial weed. It can become a major problem in most types of soils and particularly thrives in lawns, beds and borders. It can quickly become well established and form a carpet like structure of foliage that can overcrowd plants in borders and beds. In areas which are densely populated with ground elder this can result in competition for water, light and valuable nutrients in the soil with other plants. Ground elder spreads by rhizomes which can easily regenerate from even the smallest fragment left in the ground or composts and can even spread from neighbouring gardens making them highly invasive. Ground elder rhizomes can grow as much as 90cm each year and it has even been known to push through tarmac. Hence why eradication takes persistence as even the smallest fragment of root left can cause regrowth.


Apply a strong systemic weed killer as soon as shoots start to appear in spring and before they have started to flower in late May. An adjuvant should also be added to the tank mix to help the herbicide penetrate the plant better.

For bare beds and borders use a Glyphosate based product such as Round Up Pro Active.  Use Activate G as an adjuvant. 

If flower beds/borders contain plants you could carefully use a weed wiper stick to wipe glyphosate over the ground elder. 

Where plant beds and borders have become heavily infested with ground elder you could carefully dig up any garden plants and rinse the roots to remove any traces of rhizomes from the roots. The garden plants will need to be relocated whilst the herbicide is applied. The plants can then be relocated in the beds when safe to do so.

For treating Ground Elder in a lawn use Enforcer 

How to prevent future spread of Ground Elder

  • Catch any signs of new growth early and treat with a selective herbicide.
  • Any rhizomes turned up during cultivation should be removed on first sight and collected and disposed of appropriately.
  • Regular hoeing of any bare soil areas just below the soil surface from spring onwards will weaken any shoots over time.
  • Frequent mowing should control elder in lawns.
  • Always buy top soil and compost which has been screened for weeds.

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