Resilience, thy name is goutweed

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Confession – I have a goutweed problem. Like many gardeners, I wrestle annually with this invasive perennial, but I don’t think I’m winning. In fact, I probably didn’t take it quite as seriously as I should have when I first noticed it growing in a corner of the garden about four years ago. It took mere weeks for that tiny patch to double in size and it’s now conquered three areas of my yard. After watching its steady progression in my garden, I realized last summer, that I needed to get serious about getting rid of it.

Goutweed was originally introduced to North America as an easy care groundcover, thriving in shade, partial shade, and full sun. It will also grow in a range of soils, but spreads quickest in cultivated garden soil. In terms of survival skills, goutweed is the cockroach of the botanical world. It produces a web of underground rhizomes from which each leafstalk emerges. The leaves are comprised of three groups of three leaflets and can be green or variegated.

This is an area I doused with vinegar last summer. All the plants were killed, but the goutweed has now re-sprouted.

This is an area I doused with vinegar last summer. All the plants were killed, but the goutweed has now re-sprouted.

Green goutweed, the type that I (unfortunately) have is a beast to eradicate, yet is not considered a noxious weed in Canada. Certain states, like Massachusetts and Vermont, have added it to their ‘Prohibited Plant List’ and it can no longer sold or traded. Incredibly, there are still garden centres in my province that sell goutweed as a groundcover!  The variegated type, often called Bishop’s Weed or Bishop’s Curse, is slightly less thuggish, but if allowed to go to seed, it can produce all-green, super-aggressive seedlings.

Related Posts: Smack Talking Weeds

Three ways to deal with invasive weeds like goutweed:

  • Cook ’em – Solarizing invasive weeds is among the most effective of the organic methods, but it requires time, heat, and the ability to put up with an ugly piece of plastic in your garden for several months. Begin by finding a sheet of black or clear plastic that is large enough to cover the patch, plus a few extra feet in every direction. Water the area well and cover with the plastic, burying the edges to lock in the heat and moisture. You can also use bricks to weigh down the plastic if burying isn’t possible. Under the plastic, the temperature can rise to 130 F (55 C), killing weed seeds, pests, disease pathogens, and hopefully, goutweed. Remove the plastic after 6 to 8 weeks and wait several weeks to see if the goutweed rhizomes survived and will re-sprout. If there are no signs of goutweed after a month, you might, just might mind you, be in the clear.
  • Smother ’em – This is the first goutweed-busting method that I decided to try, with varying success. Begin by mowing or weed-whacking your goutweed into submission, cutting it as short as possible. Cover the area with cardboard, again being careful to expand several feet past the goutweed, and top with a thick layer of mulch – bark nuggets, shredded leaves, etc. Wait. Smothering can take a long time – up to two years. If using an organic mulch like shredded leaves, you can add some soil and plant directly in the materials after a year or two, but only IF NO GOUTWEED HAS EMERGED.
  • Spray ’em – Now before you get your knickers in a twist, I’m talking about natural sprays made with citrus oil or vinegar, 20% horticultural vinegar to be exact. I have had modest success with this industrial strength vinegar, but it also takes time, perseverance and hot, dry weather. I’ve got the time and the perseverance, but the hot, dry weather can be tricky in Nova Scotia. Last summer I sprayed one of my goutweed patches with vinegar three times – mid-July, early August, and late August. The first dose did nothing. The second dose curled and browned the leaves within days of spraying. The third dose knocked it down, and up until a few days ago, I thought it was gone… but then I noticed the sprout in the above photo. That said, this was a dense 5 by 20 foot forest of goutweed last summer and I’m down to one sprout. I think it’s time to pick up more vinegar and tackle those other two patches.

Bonus advice – Move. This is the only known method for 100% elimination of goutweed.

Do you have goutweed? What have you found effective for controlling this obnoxious weed?

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54 Responses to Resilience, thy name is goutweed

  1. Barb says:

    OMG! Goutweed! ARRGH! I have goutweed in my garden (was my mother’s) that my mother accepted from a neighbour 30+ years ago as my mother ‘had such a lovely garden with lots of variety’. It became the bane of her existence. As she aged and was no longer able to weed as she once had–it took over–smothered anything worthwhile. So, 16 years ago when I inherited the garden, I swore I would conquer it in her honour! At first on hands and knees digging for all those white rootlets, then pulling and smothering. I still have some left and will now try the vinegar as I do use it for weeds in walkways. I have also planted divisions from my mother’s original huge, thick, blue hosta in the beds to shade the goutweed to death. I’m close, very close….

    • Niki Jabbour says:

      Oh Barb, we have so much respect for you!! You should be so proud of yourself for sticking with it.. we hope when you finally eradicate that last sprout, you share it with us and we can all do a happy dance! – Niki

  2. Kate says:

    I purchased a house which had garden beds rampant with goutweed (green) and gooseneck loosestrife. Awful. One bed was so thick with them that I solarized the whole thing. In the other, I dug up the entire section where they were thickest, going down a foot or so and dragging up great networks of roots. The pile was huge. Then I replanted the bed and watched for the slightest sprout of either one. When I saw them (of course they sprouted) I touched one or two leaves with a drop of roundup. Yes, I know. But this was war. The evil elixir only affected the target plants. It’s 5 years later and I still find sprouts of goutweed (the loosestrife seems to be gone), but very few. Best of luck to you!

  3. Steven says:

    I have almost given up on trying to get rid of the goutweed we have, and think I will call in an excavator to get rid of it. We only have a couple of patches, but it is stubborn to get rid of. We tried the solar method, but didn’t work. I haven’t tried smothering them. At least it isn’t knotweed!

    • Niki Jabbour says:

      How frustrating!! I have heard of gardeners who spent big $ to get it removed only to have tiny leftover pieces of the rhizomes re-sprout.. so if you do go that route, look for someone with goutweed experience! Sounds foolish I know, but no point in spending $ to have it return.

  4. Brett Apelgren says:

    Just a question, but was is it so bad to use one application of Glyphosate rather than repeated uses of 20% vinegar which is Glacial Acetic Acid and also considered a hazardous chemical ok?
    Over use of Glyphosate is bad but bombarding a plant with repeated doses of an acid that only kills the top growth isn’t good either. And over use of acid will change the soul ph and kill the life in the soil.

    • Niki Jabbour says:

      Hi Brett, i agree that too much vinegar can be damaging to soil and it has taken a few months for my soil to get back in gear.. with help from plenty of rain to flush the soil. I wouldn’t recommend using vinegar repeatedly every year, but in order to kill a stubborn and aggressive plant like goutweed, it is quicker than repeated hand pulling. Unfortunately, glyphosate doesn’t usually kill goutweed with one application. Like vinegar, it can take several. Whatever you choose to use, I would recommend gloves and eye protection. You don’t want either getting on your clothes or yourself.

    • Chuckers says:

      If you want to get rid of Goutweed with chemical herbicides, Roundup isn’t the answer. Roundup is not very effective on rhizomes. In fact, It don’t think there is an herbicide made that is very effective on rhizomes. This is why Trumpet Creeper (Campsis Radicans), Knotweed and Goutweed are such a problem, because there is no chemical herbicide that is effective on rhizomes. However, if it were me, I would opt for triclopyr and see what effect it has on Goutweed rhizomes. Triclopyr is often sold as a brish and poison ivy killer. Weed b Gone’s Poison Ivy killer is Triclopyr. It does not work on Trumpet Creeper Rhizomes and my guess si that it does not work on Knotweed rhizomes either. However, it may be more effective on goutweed since it’s rhizomes are much more tender than the aforementioned weeds.

      Also, keep in mind that solarization isn’t going to work on goutweed if that goutweed isn’t growing in a very sunny location.

      However, if the goutweed is in a sunny location, I think your best bet is to use both triclopyr and solarization combined.

  5. Glynis Thomas says:

    Darn, the band-aid has been ripped off again.

    Whoever said, “a weed is just a plant growing where you didn’t want it,” never had Goutweed! Or Spotted Knapweed; or Japenese Knotweed; or Rosa Multiflora; or Nightshade; or Colts Foot; or Creeping Buttercup; or Angelic; and with all these someone gave me a lovely little blue plant that turned out to be Creeping Charlie (it really was a creep). … I was away from home for a while and they all got out of hand. I was heart broken and utterly overwhelmed but I love my garden and ultimately decided my very diverse, natural garden had to be saved. So, the gloves came off … um, I should say went on. The Goutweed had even managed to smoother some small evergreens, found its way under patio blocks and wound its way through many tree roots. So here are my three “SUCCESSES” so far, I think, I hope … please.

    (1) YES,TO SOLARIZING. Especially for a large area. One layer overlapped with a second layer if its a big area (leave no gaps, nothing heavy, you want to get it hot). You can also leave the cover on (if its a big area be willing to leave it there for several years to interfere with any photosynthesis for any left over bits. Plus you absolutely have to ensure you are covering an area well past where the tops are visible. The next hard part is making sure the area is left clear for a couple more years so you can find those little pieces that somehow, someway, got missed. Mowing works well, as low as you can get. AGGRESSIVE PERSISTENCE for an aggressive invader

    (2) YES, TO SMOTHERING. The black plastic is in effect also doing this. But the paper, cardboard and mulch was a fail. However, as one area had shrubs solarizing wasn’t possible nor was digging out the shrubs. So, I did us use the paper and cardboard but then covered in and around my shrubs with high quality landscape fabric and mulched heavily with cedar mulch. Success has been in stopping the Goutweed from growing over three feet and smothering my evergreens.

    YES, TO DIGGING. Forget mass digging it up though. Too expensive; too likely to spread it around; and likely to be ineffective, if not carefully done; besides you’re also tossing the topsoil away. CAREFUL, METHODICAL HAND DIGGING will work for a small area aka 10 feet by 10 feet. I started at one side, and did a small section every week. I used a long narrow small “pry bar” and worked the soil up and carefully followed along each root until I found the new tip ends. Once I had the area done, I checked every week, then every month, then every spring and now three years later I found what I hope is the last piece at the outermost edge. Time to replant with what I want – things for bees, birds, butterflies and my family. PS Spring digging is the best, a little frost heaving helps the process.

    HINT: For perennials or small shrubs you want to rescue, so you can solarize, dig up, then in a large bucket spray the dirt from the roots and carefully remove the Goutweed roots – they are usually smooth and a lighter colour than most roots (you’ll get used to spotting them). Then pot your plant up, give TLC and DO NOT REPLANT for at least two years (yup two, three is even better) you need that time for the darn little piece of root you missed to find its way up, and it will. (Sink the pot in the ground so the rim is above the soil and you’ll have a temporary garden for a while but if a new Goutweed plant makes it through you can hall the pant out and very carefully remove the offending piece, if necessary using the above method.)

    Will have to track down the HORTICULTURAL VINEGAR for where none of the above will work (multi-stemmed, large mature shrubs).

    Now onto the next spot and the next and the next and … Never give up. Cheers, Glynis

    Also, the Nature Conservancy puts out a reference manual for invasive control at http://www.invasive.org/gist/products/handbook.pdf see chapter 1.

    • Niki Jabbour says:

      Hi Glynis. thanks so much for your detailed comment!! Great info! And I also deal with a few more invasives that you mentioned – coltsfoot in particular.. it’s a battle, but one that I don’t intend to lose! 🙂

  6. Cindi says:

    I also have the dreaded weed. I put cardboard and black tarpe, waited two years and all seems ok two years later. Now I have another patch and it is all under a very large rhodo. I know rhodo roots are very close to the surface so i am not sure which method to use to kill the goatweed. I just keep on cutting it to the ground but it seems to be getting thicker. I don’t want to kill the rhodo. Any suggestions?.

    • Sharon Boddy says:

      I eradicated a patch in one area of my yard by first covering it with cardboard (you can also use plastic bags or a tarp) then covering the cardboard with autumn yard waste. I made the pile about a foot deep and, after doing this for two years, it worked. You could protect the rhodo by cutting out the bottom of a large planter and placing it over top, or cut the plastic or cardboard to fit around it. Hope that helps!

  7. Sharon Boddy says:

    If all else fails, goutweed is edible..tastes like celery. I gave up and now just toss it in salads or make it into pesto. Take caution, however, there are some lookalikes like water hemlock (leaves on that plant are much longer and narrower), so make sure it’s actually goutweed that you have before noshing.

    • Niki Jabbour says:

      Yep – I’ve tried it too!! But I’m still determined to get rid of it.. almost there, just a few spots left 🙂 And great tip on being sure you ID your plant properly – always a good idea! – Niki

    • Vibeke DK says:

      I just had a lovely pie with tomato and goutweed – you can also make “meat”balls with it.
      Yesterday I made a nice pesto with young nettles.

      I have an extremely nice and natural garden and just cut some areas and have a few vegetable beds for supporting myself with potatoes and a few other things.

      Greetings from Denmark

  8. Sharon Boddy says:

    Forgot to mention. At this time of year, when all plants are bedding down for the winter, rip out as much as you can before doing the cardboard/plastic/leaf litter thing.

  9. Stephanie says:

    I pulled as much as I could and then planted a native (ragwort) and the native is winning. It’s been two years and I rarely see a little goutweed coming up. Hoping for none this year. Learned about it here: http://www.humanegardener.com/how-to-fight-plants-with-plants/

  10. JFinnegan says:

    So appreciate that I have finally narrowed in on the correct identification. At the same time, so frustrated… last spring in what I have affectionately referred to as my “cutting garden”, I literally dug about 8 inches down throughout the whole bed (roughly 5’x20′) and picked the roots apart from the “good ones”, sifting down with my hands to be sure to get every last piece of spaghetti (root) that I could find. I kept up with any re-appearances throughout the summer, and felt confident that perhaps I had a handle on this. Not so! Spring has sprung here in Maryland, and there it is again- EVERYWHERE!!! I had tried vinegar in the past… this time, the glyphosate was my last straw. I applied one week ago, on a sunny 70+degree day…used more than I thought I needed/should, and today, a few wrinkled/browned edges on the leaves, and the rest look bright and happy. Where did this come from??? I thought perhaps it was a seed I bought years ago “faux queen anne’s lace” had finally taken hold… I was terribly wrong.

    • Niki Jabbour says:

      Oh, I can relate! It’s a terrible, terrible weed! I actually ended up pulling out a whole section of the garden where the goutweed was growing and am replacing it with a stone patio. So frustrating! I wish you much luck in your continued battle.. sigh.. – Niki

  11. Myles Falconer says:

    I have been a goutweed warrior since moving to this property in 2011. It was growing EVERYWHERE!!! and still is really… but I have made some ground. I cleaned out (pulled rhizomes) from the front yard garden (60 sq feet). Within two years it was goutweed free. In other areas I covered it with a heavy woodchip mulch and continuously snipped/pulled every goutweed plant poking through. I have a stretch (border) of our property about 200 feet long and 40 feet wide that is shaded and sort of wild. This area is overrun with goutweed. I have a flock of 12 chickens and yarded them up over half of this area. The hens eat goutweed (and almost everything else), and after a few years they really knocked the goutweed back. I’m hoping a few more years of this will kill it off and I can rehab the area. I don’t think I’ll ever get rid of it totally. I have also sparingly used glyphosate on it and while it is somewhat effective, repeated applications are likely necessary and this method is likely only effective over small areas, which could be easily dug up for rhizome removal.

    • Niki Jabbour says:

      Thanks for sharing this Myles! I haven’t tried chickens! ha ha, maybe I need to get a flock. But yes, it’s just tenacious and you really need to keep on top of it, as you mention. Thanks again, Niki

  12. Carolyn G says:

    I have two treatments I follow: I found a recipe for what I call ‘goutweed-getter’: 4 cups regular Vinegar, 1/4 cup salt, and 1 teaspoon dish soap. Shake well and spray on goutweed leaves when you know it’s going to be sunny day (not easy in Vancouver). I spray it a couple of times on a sunny day. It’s been effective on burning and killing my green goutweed in the areas that I use it for several weeks. It doesn’t get rid of the rhizomes, just the leaves above ground. It weakens the rhizomes, though. Note it will burn other plants and deplete your soil, so use caution around other plants. I’ve gotten completely rid of goutweed in a few garden beds by following and pulling those rhizomes like I’m on the lamest treasure hunt ever.

    • Susan says:

      I have gotten rid of 98% of my goutweed by persistently doing the following: I put a good layer of homemade compost on the soil. This serves to soften the ground due to worms and microbes. It takes several months or more to work. Next, when the soil seems softened, take your weeder – that long sturdy metal shank with the serpents tongue point – and push it as deep as you can at the same time lifting the ground under the goutweed. Remove the weeder and gently pull the plant to remove the long goutweed root in one piece. This takes some practice and you must have that softer soil for it to work because in hard soil the plant simply breaks off at ground level. In my experience unless you get out that entire root that plant will be back. Interestingly if you have a number of plants in the same locale as soon as you get five or six long roots out the rest will come much easier as the labyrinth begins to untangle and they no longer support each other. When you locate a plant, be sure you grasp the two or sometimes three stems and leaves that grow close together to have a better chance to extract the entire root without having it break off. I cleared my yard of this plant long ago – it took a number of years and persistence to do this every spring for years. And you must do this in spring when the plants are young and vulnerable – by summer they are usually too tough to get out. In summer you can try cutting the goutweed at the ground and then covering the ground with a newspaper mulch, leaving your keeper plants uncovered. You can cover the newspaper with cedar bark mulch for better appearance. This also aids in soil softening for easier root removal. Just rip the paper sections into the size strips you need – use a thickness of at least 7 or 8 pages. This whole thing eventually composts itself. I have two clueless neighbors with wall to wall goutweed gardens so no chance my war will end soon as a continual campaign against creepers is necessary. Best of luck – victory will be ours!

  13. Marijke Simons says:

    I am trying to find the 20% vinegar. I bought it before in Nova Scotia . I think it was Lower Sackville. I can not find it in any of the garden centers. Thanks for any help tracking it down.

    • Niki says:

      Check Bloom Greenhouse on Hammonds Plains Road, I saw it there. Also, Halifax Seed prob has some. Hope that helps! 🙂 – Niki

    • Chuckers says:

      This was a silly thing to do. That goutweed is eventually going to find it’s way (through rhizome roots and seeds) to other peoples’ yards and gardens – maybe even your own. Goutweed spreads – if it didn’t, it would not be considered invasive. You should be jailed for ecosystem terrorism and stupidity, IMHO.

    • Chuckers says:

      Oops, my previous response was meant for the person who posted about how he planted goutweed in his neighbor’s garden as a vindictive act.

  14. Mike says:

    With two properties infested thanks to neighbours and many many bags of digging I have finally solved my got weed problem. Roundup is thy name. Multiple careful applications. Multiple reuse on new growth. Had to pull my garden out. Kept at it but now it is gone. I say that as I am just clearing out the last bits now. A big patch of brown but goutweed free.
    I wish you all luck .

    • Niki Jabbour says:

      Thanks Mike – I pulled my landscaping out too.. just glad my large veg garden is far from any goutweed. Almost winning the goutweed war, appreciate your tips!

  15. Lucifer says:

    I just planted some in my neighbors garden last week while he was on vacation. Not a particularly frindly man who sued the condo association. Should be fun to observe from a distance. I do sort of feel bad, but not after paying out 5k with 140 others over nothing. He may find the fish under his deck sooner than the Goutweed invasion.

    • Niki Jabbour says:

      #revengeplanting could become a thing! Ha ha.. ok we need updates on this situation. And we appreciate that you’re in it for the long game… this could take awhile (maybe not for the fish).

    • Betsy says:

      I think that’s a terrible thing to do. There is so much strife in the world as it is. Why be vindictive?

    • Whacker says:

      Your *neighbour’s* garden, you say?

      It is a cruel idea, and I am sure you will derive great satisfaction from watching him try to suppress it. However, I think that satisfaction may be somewhat tempered by your realising this stuff *will* spread across boundaries of legal land ownership and plots laid out in city plans. Indeed, it will likely even cross the road if it is allowed to seed – and it probably will be, at least once he is a broken man and gives up.

      Agree with Niki, updates are definitely needed! Looking forward to hearing about the mix of emotions you will experience watching your neighbour weed goutweed as you, too, are weeding that same goutweed in your own garden.

    • Chuckers says:

      This was a silly thing to do. That goutweed is eventually going to find it’s way (through rhizome roots and seeds) to other peoples’ yards and gardens – maybe even your own. Goutweed spreads – if it didn’t, it would not be considered invasive. You should be jailed for ecosystem terrorism and stupidity, IMHO.

  16. Whacker says:

    Dealing with several thousand square feet of this stuff across two relatively large properties – the plant has taken over more than 2/3rds of all land in one of the two. At this stage, solarising would mean turning vast areas into barren wastelands (God knows what would colonise the areas once the covers are lifted) and vinegar would need to be applied in truly ludicrous quantities.

    Thus, the gameplan is simple: it looks like the plant is kept at bay if it is mowed down regularly. There are entire areas of the garden which, thanks to regular lawnmowing, are utterly free of it.

    Now, a lawnmower isn’t an option in some areas, so instead a heavy trimmer/brushcutter is being used. It’s astonishing how much sheer biomass you end up cutting down – several cubic metres of pure plant material.

    The battle has gone on for a few years now with mounting seriousness. Whacking it down a couple of times a year already slowed down spread considerably, and doing it every few weeks for the past year or so has started to bring a certain desperation to the plant – it is regrowing much more slowly, perhaps to conserve energy.

    The hope is that weakened enough, other plants will finally be able to outcompete it. Very clearly this approach isn’t an option for all cases, but for truly vast areas, it is looking reasonably promising. Plus, whacking down vast amounts of the plan is a certain way to let off steam: love the smell of murdered goutweed in the morning.

  17. Mercedes says:

    I’m so pleased to see that another comment has recommended manure and mulch to loosen the soil. Then repeated weeding. I don’t have to dig out the roots. Every year I knock the goutweed back another 5 feet or so. Often I will dig a shallow trench to mark my goal.

  18. Christy M says:

    The Goatweed War is on! We didn’t realize how invasive it was and over the last couple years got lazy with our front garden. We also have ground dwelling bees in some areas so round-up and solarization are out. Here is what we’ve done so far. We dug. And dug some more. We saved a few of our favorite plants, but any that were thoroughly entwined we just pulled out. Including a large Cotoneaster:( We pulled out a lot of roots and got rid of a lot of soil. We bought bags and bags of black earth and put a good 2 – 3 inches down to build the garden back up. Now we are watching for the sprouts to pop back up and when we do we are digging down to find forgotten roots. Weeding twice a week is working as it is much easier to spot in our dirt and hosta landscape. Its not an exciting garden but once we know it’s gone, we will rebuild! After a few weeks of this, the hope is to put 3 inches of mulch down. Now what did we do with all that goat weed laden soil you ask? It’s currently behind our shed getting ready to be solarized with black plastic. My fingers are crossed….

  19. David T says:

    The goutweed was everywhere in our small front garden in Vancouver, with another smaller patch under the back deck. We have a lot of mature shrubs which would be difficult to dig up, and nowhere to put them temporarily anyway, so solarization was out. Also, to “solarize” you have to have “sol”, which can be a challenge here. I asked some professional gardeners working next door for their thoughts, and they recommended simply pulling off the leaves and whatever you can reach of the stalks, repeatedly – the theory being that the interference with photosynthesis will eventually weaken the goutweed enough that it doesn’t spread so vigorously. Much to my surprise, this seems to have worked. I do it now 2 or 3 times a year, generally mid-spring, mid-summer and late fall. There’s always some goutweed, though, and to preserve mental health I’ve had to have an attitude adjustment and look at it as a nuisance to be controlled rather than a mortal enemy to be exterminated.

  20. Elana says:

    It started in my prairie. then it expanded to my flowerbeds in the back yard (around the corner and 15 feet away). I did not have any luck with hand removing. Finally covered the prairie section for 2 years with ground fabric. The grass. so far ok there. The flowerbeds are a different issue. Went to 3 garden centers. Started with Roundup, No luck. Finally got the poison ivy killer. Painted every leaf , it sort of came back. Repainted each leaf, it looked sicker. Painted them again. Just pulled up the 2 new sprouts I saw. Hoping to have luck as it is now too cold to even think that I can poison it again with any effect. Waiting for spring to see if I was successful.

  21. Dawn Welton says:

    Niki, you mention three methods for eradication, but you’ve missed one, and it’s worked rather successfully for my husband and me. We’ve mostly conquered our goutweed problem. You must find ‘goutweed headquarters’, then dig it all up like you would sod, going down about six inches. Burn it. Then, working down from ‘headquarters’, carefully cultivating the bed, and around all plants you want to keep, removing all roots and shoots. That’s not the end of it, of course. Make it your daily mission to hunt down, and remove, any new shoots and roots you see. Yes, every day. You must do it every day, there’s no other way to beat it. It’s quite a feeling of accomplishment, for sure.

    • Peter says:

      Interesting. Do all goutweed patches have a ‘headquarters’? It would follow that one ought to begin battle in the middle, rather than on the fronts.

  22. Jennifer Dench says:

    Wondering if anyone can provide some feedback. I’m going to tackle my front garden. The dreaded goutweed came along with a gift from a friends’ garden (I am very confident they did not know it was coming along with the irises). I have been fighting it for the past 3 yrs… It has spread from just a small area to about 6 ft, and ack, it has now headed very close to the lawn (I am terrified that it will take over if I don’t annihilate right away). I know I have to take fast action, and pulling out the underground rhizomes has not worked well for me (so hard to keep them from breaking). It first hit at a time I just couldn’t get at it the way it really needed (I had no idea how invasive it was). Unfortunately, the roots are now extremely entangled with my hydrangea and perennials. I have resigned myself to digging out everything, and solarizing the whole shebang. Wondering whether black tarp or clear tarp would be better in HRM? If after 2 months I see any action, I realize that I may need to try and smother the rest (possibly for the next couple years). My neighbour suggests carpet… I am sincerely hoping that this is a blessing in disguise, will allow me to replant and form my front garden, which needs clear borders. But, this is only a blessing in disguise if I can kill all the stuff and not have to fight with it every year. Any thoughts on this would be appreciated.

  23. Cindi Palmer says:

    Poor you. Feel your pain as I had the same issue a few years ago and had to bite the bullet. Took all plants out of the garden, washed all the soil and took out any roots of the gout weed then placed them in pots. Put a few layers of heavy cardboard then covered with a black taro. Placed the pots on top of the tarp so it wouldn’t be as ugly. I waited two years before I saw no sign of the goat weed then took the cover off and replanted checking there was no gout weed in the pots. It’s been a few years and I am watching very carefully at first sign of any new leaves emerging. A few pop up around the granite rocks so I immediately dig until I find the end of the root. I did the same to other bed but I couldn’t move the large rhododendron in the middle so I circled the rhododendron with the cardboard and tarp, leaving a few feet beyond the drip line. I cut the goat weed as soon as it emerged. It’s been a few years and a few pieces still grow under the Rhoda but I am still cutting and it is almost gone. Good luck!

  24. Barbara says:

    One very important step no one has mentioned is that you must BURN any and every part of the plant that is removed. My goutweed grew from bits of the weed transferred to my yard by the ride-on mower. The last area mowed next door was always around goutweed and then our mowing always began beside a flower bed. It took a few years for it to get started, but cuttings thrown from the mower was how it got there. I always burn any portion of the removed plants – especially after having found some still alive and growing tied up in a clear bag for several months. Also, my concern with having it excavated and trucked away is that it will thrive wherever they dump it, thereby making it someone else’s problem.

  25. Janet Howard says:

    wow. thank you so much. I am also at war with gout weed. I’m writing about it – because i see it connected to my releasing fear – it’s so deep AND also on the surface but i can’t get it all out – some of it will remain, down by the foundation, where i can’t reach it. Maybe in my next life time.

    For now, i am literally digging up beds and tossing hostas – not giving away to anyone. I wouldn’t wish gout weed on anyone. but it is therapeutic to dig and pull out those white roots. and to release my fear. That’s on a good day. 🙂 janet

  26. Lynn M Ayres says:

    I have 2 contained garden beds filled with tall Ostrich ferns with variegated gout weed underneath. I actually get compliments on the combination. But the ferns have spread and actually crowded out and smothered the gout weed, so much so that I have to plant more gout weed to get the same effect.

  27. Joshua Goodman says:

    I’ve had a good amount of success removing goutweed from large areas of our yard, first by pulling up as much of the plants and rhizomes as I can (it’s about impossible to get them all). Then I cover the area with two layers of cardboard, on top of which I lay down a thick layer of mulch (about 4 inches). I started doing this about three years ago and have mostly defeated the diabolical stuff. When I see new goutweed leaves appear, which are thankfully few and far between, I pull them up and usually smother the spot with cardboard and mulch again.


    I have goutweed around the foundation of my house.
    Does goutweed kill other plants – especially shrubs? I am losing a snowball bush, and have already lost a serviceberry – both were several years old and well established…

  29. Frank A Lombardo says:

    I haven’t seen anyone mention using a below ground barrier to “contain” the goutweed; that is, dig a trench, lay in a vertical semi-rigid plastic. I was wondering what depth might work to contain a batch is on a far part of my regular garden and lawn, preserving this remaining area from encroachment. Letting it have a piece of land, instead of trying to totally eliminate it.

    • Cassey Malone says:

      Hey Frank, I have had success containing it by doing a vertical barrier. If possible, I’d suggest a metal one if you can. I used old metal siding and flattened out an old gutter. While both plastic and metal can leak toxins into the ground, I have seen places in which goutweed has grown through cracks in the plastic. I cannot be certain that the goutweed was responsible for that crack but can say with confidence that it founds it way through.

      I have also had great success with the dig and sift method. It is invasive and does disturb the area you are working in. I would recommend watching closely for 2-4mths post sift and encourage replanting (of another species), adding more soil (if necessary) and compost, along with mulch. In areas in which I performed a significant dig and sift, I did find a few dozen stragglers 1 year out and only a handful 2 years out but all could be traced back to 2 trees, one shrub and a heavy rock retaining wall (all of which I don’t have permission to move).
      I cannot stress enough that replanting is necessary and I wish I didn’t wait until year three to replant. I ended up with other invasives coming in to access this disturbed but recently improved soil.

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