If you are an avid gardener, you have probably found yourself asking the question ‘how to get rid of bindweed,’ which is every gardener’s worst nightmare.
They look harmless, with their pink and white flowers, which are a treat to the eyes. But, its roots are the real menace. The twining vines snake around hedges, fences, plants, or any stationary object in their path and quickly overtake vegetation due to their rapid multiplication.
Additionally, they grow throughout the year and have deep, strong roots over four feet in length. Because of its tendency to choke native plants and species, it is regarded as an invasive plant.
If you are a gardener, get ready to try to kill it repeatedly. And the sooner you get rid of them, the sooner you will save your garden from being taken over by bindweed. Hence, to rescue gardeners, here are the simplest ways to get rid of these weeds in the most effective way possible.
The best ways of getting rid of Bindweed includes Mulching your garden to smoother bindweed, Using Chemical Liquids, Guiding the Growth, Removing by Hand and Multi Pronged-Approach.
The sooner you observe a bindweed thriving in your lawn or garden; you need to take your tools to uproot it or wipe it out. It can be either by using organic methods such as pulling it by hands, digging and hoeing, or mulching. Or you can apply the inorganic technique, such as herbicides, that can kill it the moment it tries to resurface.
What is Bindweed?
Bindweed is also known as Convolvulus Arvensis. These cream-white colored roots are brittle, and if even the tiniest piece is left in the soil, it will grow into a new plant. When they start growing among garden plants, their aggressive root system grows through the roots and suffocates the already existing plants.
Note: Bindweed grows from both seeds and roots.
Another reason they are challenging to get rid of is the viability of their seeds – they can remain in the soil for over 30 years! Now you know why you need to remove bindweed before it sets seeds and blossoms flowers.
You can comfortably identify bindweed in your garden. Usually, their first signs are thin-thread-like vines that would have wrapped themselves around your plants or other climbable objects. Also, their leaves are green, arrow-shaped, with trumpet-themed flowers in pink and white hues.
Most of the time, only after they cover parts of gardens do people start noticing the presence of this weed. Identifying and removing bindweed can be tricky, but the following guide gives tried and tested solutions.
Bonus Read: Is your backyard a victim of a dandelion infestation? Learn about expert ways to eliminate dandelion.
How to Get Rid of Bindweed?
Here is a list of organic and chemically-dependent methods to eliminate bindweed from your backyard:
1. Mulch Your Garden to Smother Bindweed
A common and effective way to get rid of bindweed is to mulch the top layer of your garden.
Mulch is a layer of 2-3 inches that covers the topsoil in gardens such that it envelops loose soil but doesn’t touch the plants or trees. This technique has two benefits. Firstly, it blocks the sunlight to kill the existing bindweed, and secondly, it prevents seeds from germinating or the germinated ones from growing.
Note: The mulch takes at least one year to show effect.
There are two types of Mulch that you can opt For:
- Organic Mulch: These include materials like straw and shredded bark that eventually decay into the soil and release nutrients. Even cocoa shells are a popular choice of mulch.
Some gardeners also use newspapers. Sounds strange, right? But it is a highly cost-efficient and environmentally-friendly method of keeping bindweed at bay. Moreover, it works like a barrier similar to plastic with the added advantage of decaying into the soil.
- Inorganic Mulch: You can combine stone and plastic to create an almost impenetrable layer of mulch above the soil. Usually, black plastic is used for row crops as plastic sheets cover the soil and stop the bindweed from germinating.
2. Chemical Liquids
Your local garden store might have vast supplies of herbicides, the most well-known method of dealing with bindweed. They simply kill all the growing plants that come in contact with the liquid. Make sure you apply the killer to the leaves and stems directly.
Pro Tip: Spray even on areas where bindweeds have grown previously, even if they don’t exist there currently.
Glyphosate weed killers like Roundup are the most famous ones. And most importantly, The timing of applying herbicides is crucial too.
A downside to chemical sprays is the accidental casualties since these stubborn weeds grow among your garden plants. You have to be cautious while deciding the spraying location. To see optimal results, spray the liquid when bindweed flowers are in the blooming stage, mainly in June and early July. During this stage, bindweed leaves move the nutrient downwards. Similarly, the chemical applied will also be sent downwards towards the rhizome system and roots.
Apply the herbicides in moderation as too much or too little shall only kill the leaves and not the roots.
3. Guide the Growth
Control which way or till what height the bindweeds in your garden grow to make sure it gets easier to curb their tremendous growth.
Since this plant is a vine, it needs stationary support to grow along. Use bamboo canes around your garden and flower beds at the beginning of the season. Whenever a bindweed root grows out, just twine it around the closest cane.
This way, the vine weed gets a height to grow away from your plants and allows you to spray herbicides directly to the bindweed without harming your vegetables or plants. Rubber mallets or gardening gloves can also be used for this purpose.
4. Remove by Hand
Thanks to their extensive mesh of roots, it is impossible to get all the bindweed roots out with bare hands. But here is the secret – if you remove the top of the plant regularly, the roots will die. Since food is prepared by the leaves through photosynthesis, removing them equates to depriving the roots of sufficient nutrients. And weeding after a rain shower makes the process easier. In the wet soil, pulling out weeds and getting more of the roots is quicker.
If doing this with bare hands isn’t comfortable, scissors suffice. Cut the vines off at the soil level, and the same objective is achieved as the roots are robbed of their food.
Pro Tip: Closely observe the spots and remove the new vines as soon as they grow.
5. Multi-Pronged Approach
Along with the previous method, you can club the following to get desired results:
- Digging: Keep an eye out on areas where bindweeds tend to grow more prominently in your garden. Dig these areas in the autumn season to get rid of as many roots as possible. As spring approaches, attempt spotting the shoots that could be developing from the roots you missed out in those areas and remove them.
- Hoeing: If the bindweed is growing in an area where you can’t dig, such as the roots of your vegetables or plants, remove the growth using a hoe. You will have to do this throughout the growing season.
Prevention and Control Measures for Bindweed
To save you the trouble of removing bindweed, here are a few measures to prevent the weed from growing in your garden in the first place.
- Regular Inspection: Removing bindweed in its early stages is always suggested. This guarantees the weed won’t reach the seed formation stage through which it can multiply rapidly.
- Soil Check: Thoroughly check the soil you buy or put in your garden. It is usually the foreign soil brought from unregulated areas that spark the birth of bindweed in your garden.
- Acidity: Keep monitoring the acidity of the soil. Putting lime and ash can help you bring its pH level to be neutral, keeping bindweed at bay.
- Autumn Digging: Every year during autumn, digging the garden after harvesting makes sure that the bindweed roots are on the surface of the earth. They eventually die due to the low temperature.
- Cover Crops: Bindweed tends to slow down its growth when the available area to spread its roots decreases. In between the plants you have, try growing grasses that sprout early to take away the soil nutrients this weed needs to potentially grow.
- Watering: The weed grows better in and prefers dry soil. This is why it can also survive droughts. Hence, ensure to water your garden sufficiently and never leave it in a dry state for prolonged periods.
There are several plants that bindweed cannot stand in its vicinity. They are usually plants you grow to improve soil conditions. Few plants that could be a healthy addition to your garden and also prevent bindweed from growing are:
- Kentucky bluegrass
These preventive plants are nurtured in spring in large quantities so that they grow before bindweed can enter your garden.
There are a few trade secrets that farmer families share across generations. A few of those could be helpful for you gardeners too. These techniques to get rid of bindweed are natural and organic, thus having no side effects on your plants.
- Saltwater: Bindweed cannot tolerate table salt, and DIY gardeners can exploit this fact. Start by diluting 1Kg of salt in 20L of water. This solution is then used for watering plants as it attacks the roots of the bindweed within the soil.
A little word of caution – all plants cannot grow in saline water! Don’t forget to do your research before implementing this hack.
- Boiling Water: Simple boiling water also removes bindweed when abundantly poured. This technique is suitable when other plants are not growing near. If not, the roots of surrounding plants might get burned.
Despite the pleasant flowers and their medicinal properties, bindweed can destroy your backyard. Remember, the yearly battle with bindweed is winnable if you know the proper techniques.
There is no one permanent solution for getting rid of this weed, and it may take many seasons too. If you have large infestations, contacting a landscape professional would be ideal for your garden.
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