Will Vinegar Kill Ground Elder?

Every gardener is familiar with the problem of attempting to keep weeds out of gardens. Is there a more effective method than using chemical weed killers, toxic-smelling mixtures, or weeding instruments after weeds have already sprang up in your garden?

You may have looked for natural solutions and found vinegar if you wish to avoid using toxic chemicals on your plants. Do weeds die from vinegar, though? There is proof that vinegar does effectively and permanently eliminate weeds, keeping your flowers and displays weed-free.

You can use malt, distilled, white vinegar, and even apple cider to prevent the spread of weeds in your garden, including thistle and horsetail. Learn why this remedy works and how to apply it to get rid of weeds in your flower beds by reading on.

What is ground elder?

A perennial weed called ground elder (Aegopodium podagraria) produces clumps of green leaves and white summer blooms. It forms thick underground networks of rhizomes and roots and spreads by underground stems (rhizomes).

How to identify ground elder?

Early in the spring, fresh stems with dark green leaves emerge above ground. Although the two plants are unrelated, ground elder is named for the way its leaves resemble elder. Under the soil’s surface, digging around the plants reveals thick, white rhizomes. In the spring and summer, ground elder blooms, creating long stems with flat white heads of small flowers that resemble cow parsley.

Ground elder damage

For water and nutrients, ground elder’s leafy clumps outcompete those of other plants. Rhizomes can ensnare among the roots of other plants, making removal challenging.

Ground elder control

It is challenging to control ground elder since it can re-grow from any tiny pieces of rhizome left in the ground. For heavy infestations, weedkiller is the best option. However, it can also be managed without the use of drugs if you are persistent and patient.

  • To get rid of all ground elder rhizomes, dig up every plant in the bed and thoroughly wash its roots. These plants can either be temporarily potted or planted in open space.
  • Next, use a garden fork to carefully dig out the ground elder, making sure to get rid of all of the root fragments. To starve the ground elder and block out light, you may also cover the bed with black polythene. This method may require several seasons to entirely eradicate ground elder.
  • Cut all new ground elder growth back as soon as it appears to below ground level, if it is not practicable to remove all plants from the bed. This will eventually weaken the plants if done frequently.
  • Ground elder in lawns will eventually perish if cut frequently.
  • Use a systemic weedkiller containing glyphosate, such as Roundup Ultra, to spray established ground elder. If necessary, reapply the spray in the latter part of the summer when the weeds are at their height of growth.
  • Glyphosate is a systemic, non-selective weedkiller that will destroy any plant it comes in contact with, so cover neighboring plants with plastic sheeting to protect them.
  • To avoid harming surrounding plants, put Roundup Gel directly on leaves as an alternative.
  • When using weedkiller, always abide by the manufacturer’s recommendations.

How is ground elder smothered?

Q Our garden’s back half is overrun with ground elder. I tried Roundup, but it wasn’t successful. I’ve manually removed part of it, but since some of it is mixed with plants I wish to maintain, it continues coming back. Can I cover it with vinca or another plant that spreads?

A Ground elder, which the Romans first used as a vegetable, is challenging to eradicate because it may reappear from the tiniest fragment of root. You can dig up everything in a certain location and get rid of every last piece of root. To accomplish this, you must first cleanse the roots of any plants you intend to keep before transplanting them.

With a barrier that is at least 18 inches deep, surround this. Alternately, you might rake the affected area and scatter grass seed there. For a few years, cutting the grass will erode the ground elder. Or for a few years, cover it with black plastic. As a last option, you may consume the leaves of woody bushes you planted there.

Q In pots, I have five magnificent bamboos. They had produced sturdy new spikes for the past three years, but this winter’s wind and dryness have destroyed one, and the other four are scruffy and brown. How do I get them back? Vivienne

In a matter of weeks, a bamboo can move from radiant health to scruffiness. Too much wind, insufficient water, and stale compost are the issues. Give them a mulch made of compost or mushroom spores. If not, repot them. Give them a good soak, remove any sad growth at the base, and then leave only a few sturdy canes and any new culms. Then position them in a protected area. Trust them; they’ll be fine the next year.

Does vinegar contaminate the soil?

If you’re having trouble controlling weeds in your garden, a USDA research study on the use of vinegar as a herbicide may be of interest to you.

The effectiveness of acetic acid in eliminating various common weed species, such as Canada thistle, lamb’s quarters, gigantic foxtail, velvetleaf, and smooth pigweed, was proven by USDA researchers.

Hand-spraying weeds with various vinegar solutions coated the leaves consistently. The weeds were found to be killed in the first two weeks after emerging from the soil at 5- and 10-percent concentrations. Higher vinegar concentrations were necessary to destroy older plants. Vinegar showed a death rate of between 85% and 100% at the higher concentrations for all growth stages. The roots of permanent weeds, such Canada thistle, survived and continued to grow, only being briefly knocked back.

Despite being an acid, vinegar decomposes quickly in the soil and is therefore unlikely to build up to a level that would impact soil pH for more than a few days.

Without more information, accidental harm is extremely likely because vinegar quickly burns plant tissue of vulnerable species. If other crop plants and ornamentals can withstand the vinegar, more research is required to determine this.

Be aware that vinegar with an acetic acid content higher than 5% may be dangerous and should be handled carefully. Skin burns and eye damage can result from vinegar solutions with an alcohol content of 11% or more. Always read and abide by the instructions on any pesticide label.

How can old people be removed?

A perennial herbaceous plant, ground elder is. Rhizomes, or underground stems, which are used for its spread can regenerate from a single small piece left in the ground. On this page, we examine the options available to gardeners when ground elder becomes a problem.


Shoots with deep green leaves emerge from the ground early in the year. These are succeeded by tall stalks that hold several flat heads of white blooms in the late spring and early summer. There is a leaf-variegated variety as well. The weed’s popular name comes from the flowers’ likeness to those of the elder tree, a completely unrelated species.

The problem

Ground elder can quickly infiltrate an area from a neighboring garden or surrounding wasteland since it spreads by rhizomes. It can also be unintentionally introduced with new plants if fragments of its fleshy, white rhizome are tucked away among the roots of the plant or concealed within the compost of the rootball.


The first line of defense against pests, diseases, and weeds, according to the RHS, should be good cultivation practices, cultivar selection, garden hygiene, and encouraging or introducing natural enemies. Chemical controls should only be applied sparingly and very specifically if at all.

By delicately digging it out with a garden fork, you can lessen ground elder infestations because its rhizomes are close to the soil’s surface. The tiniest amount of root left in the soil may cause a new plant to develop, thus full eradication requires caution.

Cultural control

In a well-planted bed, controlling huge ground elder infestations can be challenging. It will take some time and persistence to get rid of it altogether. Try the following natural remedies:

  • Carefully remove and destroy any ground elder rhizome fragments from the area around the roots of planted plants by lifting them.
  • Replant your garden plants in fresh soil or pots once you are certain that everything has been removed.
  • Now, the ground elder can be removed by digging, or by smothering it in black polythene to block the light. The ground elder may need to be totally eliminated over the course of several seasons.

Ground elder shouldn’t last very long in freshly mowed lawns because it will typically become starved out by subsequent mowing.


  • Spraying an established ground elder with a potent glyphosate-containing weed pesticide can manage it (e.g. Roundup Stump Killer, Doff Weedout Extra Tough Weedkiller or Westland Resolva Pro Xtra Tough Weedkiller)
  • Avoid spray drift by covering cultivated plants with sheet polythene or pegging them out of the path.
  • When there is abundant leaf growth in mid-summer, apply the spray; if necessary, reapply it later in the season.
  • Spraying at night will be far more effective than spraying during the day since the leaves will absorb more of the chemical.

Residual control

  • Completed by SBM SBM Job done, Tough Weedkiller (only ready-to-use). The glyphosate/diflufenican-containing products Path Weedkiller (only ready-to-use) and Weedol Pathclear can be applied once per season to natural surfaces where no plants are to be grown. They can also be used under and around established woody trees and shrubs. This solution stops or controls emerging growth while eradicating existing little green growth. Before using, make sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions to prevent hurting delicate plants.

A weedkiller product’s inclusion does not imply a recommendation or endorsement from the RHS. It is a list of products that are currently accessible to gardeners at home.

What is superior to ground elder?

We’re looking for dry shade-tolerant villains because fine forest plants typically require moist soil and won’t be able to withstand ground elder. Try Acanthus mollis, which has broad leaves that will shade the developing ground elder and tall, beautiful flower spires of purple and white.

Will ground elder be killed by cardboard?

However, as expected, it did not damage the plant, and as the cardboard disintegrated by the following spring, the ground elder bounced back unharmed. Cardboard and mulch is a technique exclusively suited for annual weeds. Patches of the ground elder that were growing in our yard were gradually destroyed by mowing over time.

Can ground elder be treated with Roundup Gel?

The foliage will be burned and killed by contact weedkillers, but the roots will continue to develop, produce new green growth, and spread.

Spray using a glyphosate-based weedkiller for the greatest results. This is a systemic weedkiller that penetrates the leaves and kills the weeds by penetrating the roots.

In order to make sure the weedkiller is effective:

  • When the ground elder is actively developing, which is primarily from March/April through September/October, spray the leaves.
  • The amount of weedkiller that may be absorbed and transported to the roots increases proportionately to the size of the leaf area present. Therefore, wait till the leaves have spread out and grown larger before spraying the growth when it initially appears through the dirt.
  • Spray the leaves with a fine mist to completely cover them in tiny droplets.
  • Spray in the evening during the summer to reduce evaporation and to offer the most time possible for absorption. Spray earlier in the day in the spring or if an overnight dew is predicted so that it can dry before the dew comes.
  • It’s doubtful that ground elder will completely disappear after one weed killer spray. It might be necessary to use the spray once, let the ground elder die down, and then apply it once again to any regrowth. Depending on how widespread the root system is, it can take three or more applications per year spread out over a few years to entirely eradicate it.

Glyphosate and the majority of contact weedkillers are total weedkillers, meaning they will harm or kill any plants whose leaves they come into touch with. Make sure to keep the spray away from desired plants, such as lawns, and, if required, cover plants with polythene or something similar before spraying.

When trying to treat ground elder that is growing through or close to desired plants, Roundup Gel may be a better option because it is applied onto and adheres to the weed leaves.

Don’t misuse weed killers. Before using a product, always read the label and the instructions.

Will ground elder grow through grass?

A prolific, tenacious, and quickly expanding perennial weed is ground elder. It has thin, wiry rhizomes that swiftly regenerate from small fragments, which contribute to its ease of spreading. Ground elder can be found growing in flowerbeds, paving cracks, lawns, and other areas of gardens. Although it is more frequently referred to as ground elder, it is also sometimes called bishop’s weed, jump-about, or goutweed because of its earlier medical usage.