Advice & Guidance

Nasty garden weeds

There are 5 main weeds in gardens each doing there own thing to annoy gardeners. in this article i will try to explain the 5 weeds and the trouble they cause in the garden and how to try to eradicate them .

The weeds concerned are as  follows

1) Ground elder – eaegopodium podogoria

2) Mare’s-Tail – hippuris vulgaris

3) Couch grass – elymus repens

4) Bindweed – convolus arvensis

5) Comfrey – symphtum officinale


Ground Elder – A weed which is prolific in the garden. It spreads by underground rhysomes which spread all over, even getting into the roots of garden plants and competing for water and nutrients. normally the weed spreads from   near by gardens, it is a fairly shallow  rooting plant with creeping stems. its top growth is that of dark green leaves with tall white flowers .

  • Organic Control – The ground (soil) should be dug over fairly regularly  removing as much of the white roots as possible. any roots left in the soil  will eventually reproduce new plants,  ideally in the worst case the soil should be forked over say once a week ,a soon as the weed pops up through the soil . all the debris should be burnt not composted as this will increase the problem, any plants that have been heavily infested by the roots of the ground elder, should be lifted in the autumn and all the  soil removed from the plant and the nasty white roots removed then the plant can be re planted  in good clean soil.
  • Chemical control – A glyphosate weed killer  like round up can be applied  to the leaf of the plant, only apply when the weed is actively growing from early May-September. The chemical should be applied on still dry to avoid damage to other plants,  the chemical enters the leaf and travels down to the roots eventually killing it repeated application may be needed every 4-6 weeks




An invasive weed with fern like top growth and long deep black rhysomatious roots which creep under the soil competing for light, water and nutrients reducing the strength of the cultivated plant


  • 0rganic control – It should be firstly removed by digging as deep as possible using a spade and removing as much of the black root as possible, this should be carried out using a spade at first then forking over the ground at least once a week on a regular basis, removing every last bit of root however small so as to clean the ground ready for fture planting .The mare’s-tail which has been removed should not be put on the compost as it  will re-generate and can be transferred back the beds and borders. If using imported compost (manure) be aware of it source before using it so that no nasty weeds are imported,the mairs tail should be either burnt or fed to hens. A bad infestation cultivated plants should be lifted, roots cleaned and any black roots removed and the plants replanted in clean soil and the infested soil should be left fallow for at least 3 months and dug over regularly to clean it up,  for future planting.
  • Chemical Control – It is advisable to use a glyphosate based weedkiller  which will travel through the leaf and down to the roots. This may need to be applied every 4-6 weeks to get maximum effect prior to the application of weed killer. The mairs tail needs to be actively growing for it to work , the weed firstly needs trampling on or bruising with the back of a garden rake so as to damage the leaf skin the the weed killer can be absorbed by the plant as this plant has fern like leaves if its not bruised the chemical will just run off the leaf. The chemical should be applied on a dry wind free day to avoid damaging other plants near by once killed leave the ground for at least one or two weeks before removing the dead material to allow maximum effect.



Couch Grass – A pernicious weed which reproduces all over the garden. It is a member of the grass family with long white roots which creep under the soil surface. New plants can be produced by every part of the plant left in the ground. Each leaf joint will produce a new plant invading the ground. The top growth is that of the grass plant.

  • Organic control-  the ground which is infested with couch grass should have garden plants lifted and the soil removed from the garden plants so that the couch grass roots can be removed and the garden plant can be tidied up  ready to be replanted. While the soil needs to be cultivated on a regular basis say once a week removing all of the white roots, these roots must not be composted they must be burnt to avoid any re infestation if the soil is dug over regularly the couch grass will eventually exhaust its self.   If  found on an allotment then it is best to keep it under control during the growing season but from autumn to spring is best time to single dig the soil to eradicate the weed.
  • Chemical Control- a glyphosate based weedkiller (round up) applied to the leaf of the couch, only apply when the weed is actively growing to get good control this may need to be applied 2 or 3 times a season as soon as new growth comes through the soil. Once it  has worked, the ground can be easily cleared of couch grass. With all nasty weeds burn them as the heat from the compost heap will make it re produce , it should be applied on a dry day allowing 6 hours for the liquid to be absorbed through the leaf by the plant . Once ground clear,  plants can be put back in the soil.


Bindweed  – a weed which comes to life in early spring emerging through the soil  its a climbing weed which climbs all over the plant eventually choking the plant it produces lot of white trumpet like flowers  underground it produces lots of long white roots creeping underground any part of the root broken off will produce more plants .

  • Organic control– firstly the top growth should  be removed from around the garden plants preventing the bindweed from choking plants once removed it should be burnt not composted ,the roots under ground should be removed as much as possible this needs doing on a regular basis digging down as deep as you can to remove as much as possible as all other weeds  nasty weeds should be removed if they are competing with garden plants . before re planting once the plant is free of weeds and the ground also the plant can be replanted
  • Chemical Control  the bind weed can be controlled chemically by spraying the leaves as soon as they appear through the soil or it can be painted on to the leaves. using a gyphosate based weedkiller, avoiding getting any of the chemical on any cultivated plants allow a few days for the weedkiller to travel through the leaves to the roots , before removing the dead and burning the debris


Comfrey  – not always  recognised  as a weed, this plant is known as a herb which has escaped its confines of the garden and become an invasive plant appearing every were, its not wanted. it is a plant with medium to largish leaves blue flowers and a long black tap root a bind to gardeners as i comes up all over but on the positive side the leaves can put in a bucket of water and left to steep and the liquid produced can be used as a feed for plants and vegetables .

  • Organic Control  when the plant is growing is can be removed,by digging it out using a spade going as deep down as u can to remove as much of the tap root as can be dug up .Any piece of tap root left in the ground, will produce new plants so the ground needs  digging over regularly soon as they appear.
  • Chemical Control comfrey can be eradicated by applying a  gyphosate based weedkiller. which works through the leaves and down to the roots,but the plant must be actively growing for the chemical to work as for all weeds allow a few days for the chemical to work, before removing the dead debris.