Big war, big weapons.. a very honest post about goutweed control


Way back when I moved here last year, I overlooked some things I would normally deem as a potential realty dealbreaker. We had goutweed! Everything else was an ideal thing that I let it go.

But I didn’t let it go, really. I didn’t want it to spread anymore. I didn’t want it at all! But anyone who has ever seen this “beautiful, fool proof ground cover” or had the PLEASURE of trying to eradicate it, will agree with me: It’s not an easy feat. And many just give up. Don’t give up.

The majority of this bed as freshly emerged goutweed. I’m told it’s great for gout, or goats like it, and people eat it. But I’m not gonna eat it. It’s going to eat dirt.

I’m here to discuss goutweed this week and how I’ve managed to control it so far.

But first, I need to sit you down and have the talk. Yes, you know the talk, we all dread it. It’s the talk regarding Round-Up. No, I don’t mean my yearly round-up post. I mean, the toxic, disgusting glysophate spray people love to ask for, love to hate. I don’t like to use non-organic methods of clearing things out. I don’t like to use synthetic fertilizers in my gardens because I don’t like the steroid-type dependency it creates. I also don’t like using spray on weeds either. But you need to look at your situation and determine if this is one where such a drastic action is needed.
Round up is not advised to be used in lawns or near vegetable gardens, do not use near water sources or wildlife. I’ve read its warnings of being highly carcinogenic. I’ve also spoken with vendors who tout that it has a ground residual effect for two weeks.  It should not be applied with children or pets around. You should wear protective gloves, goggles, face respirator. It’s nasty. It also smells like a sickly pina colada.

The times in which I DO believe it is acceptable as a LAST RESORT are as follows: A noxious weed that cannot be removed manually, either due to an aggressive spreading habit or due to irritating toxins in the plant that can cause major discomfort. IE: Poison Oak/Sumac/Ivy, Japanese Knotweed, and GOUTWEED. If anyone has ever tried to remove goutweed, the initial… how shall we put it, carpet, is so densely rooted into the soil that it requires a good strong tool to lift it. But to snap any roots is to propagate the plant further. It loves it. It thrives on it. I remember hearing reassuring comments from friends and gardeners. Once you get into it, it’s not so bad. But there I stood, I declared, “oh the humanity!” who on earth ever thought it was a good thing to plant?

So I listened to so many points of advice. Working in a garden center, I hear a LOT of gardener tales. What people do, what they try.

Smother it. Go ahead. There will be a good chance it will pop up at the edge of the cover. Try carpet if you can bear its ugliness. I’ve heard this is the best weapon.

Dig it out. Yeah okay. Get the biggest excavator you can get and dig a meteor-sized hole around the whole patch. You may win. (I considered this, and I may still)

You can try a number of vinegar/dawn/water potions. I’ve heard these work, but then, the next gardener in line whispers, “no It doesn’t, she just doesn’t know it yet.”

I saw a gardener come in this summer looking for trays. She was removing all her perennials, cleaning their roots carefully of any bits of goutweed. They would then dig the entire site.  Yeah, maybe. That is incredibly meticulous for a gardener whose veggie garden is tapping its toes, waiting to be harvested, with a greenhouse to tend, and a family to care for. I had no emotional attachment to anything in this bed. So I did not care.

The thing I tried though, was Round-Up. I don’t like to use this word, and I don’t like to promote it. But when you compare the state it came up in this spring versus the state of the bed after July, you will see that it’s quite effective. The reason I chose it was due to its systemic approach. Those roots lie in wait and spring up when you aren’t looking. I had to get serious.

After a week of festering with Roundup, the goutweed shows some stress, but still thumbing its nose.

But stop. The journey doesn’t end here. To this day, in September, there is still nothing new planted. After it lay there, like salted earth, all summer long, I decided to poke around.

And look what I found. You WISH this was a spaghetti garden. Nope, these are all still quite plump and fleshy roots from goutweed. I also found a few pieces sprouting up under the Privet shrub. It’s still alive.


I continue to monitor and target any survivors.

Next year, there will be more popping up after a long and restful winter. I am counting on it. And I will be there, waiting. Spraying. Root-digging. I don’t expect to plant here for a few years.

So, now you know the truth, and why good people would go and do bad things. Sometimes, emergencies happen. Desperate people do desperate things.

I am not proud that I resorted to this product, but I also know it is a very challenging task, to destroy Goutweed. But I can tell you something else about this “magical potion” everyone thinks they desire. It isn’t fast acting! My advantage is likely to our very dry summer. And it isn’t a 100% sure thing the first time around. It’s a pain in the ass in terms of pet and child logistics, and papers even suggest telling your neighbors you intend to use the product. You will probably have to re-spray the keeners sprouting up. The war is not easily won.

After the first rain in the middle of summer, the only things that were reborn were clovers and maybe the odd sprig of goutweed and other miscellaneous weeds. Nice!

In other news this week, I’ve been working on the rock garden to get it back in a state of tidiness.
You will likely see that this is going to become my primary focus next year as it is just about finished anyway. I’ve been giving my home business a lot of consideration and the main artery to this business for a customer is this walkway. I want it to look interesting, clean and polished. The upper parts are done. I’ve just got to wait for the perennials to fill in. The Sedums have done very well this summer, thanks to all that hot and dry weather. Further down, it gets a little bit more confused, but the edit to take place here is the bottom. The bottom is mostly daylilies, but I think I will probably fill most of this area (along the trellising) with Perovskia (Russian sage) and the bottom I am still considering. The Artemisia seemed very mighty, but it falls over and this isn’t really ideal for passerby.


As a final note this week, I confess, I’ve been a little late in my updates. Frankly, there is less to discuss as the season winds down, so I’ll be posting once every 2 weeks (with the exception of some exciting posts I can’t wait to share) from here until probably march. I’ll try my best to keep things interesting, maybe bringing some topics to the indoors, and product recommendations.

Have a fabulous week, and dance in that cold, delicious rain!


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