How To Get Rid Of Ground Elder: Without Harming Other Plants

Ground elders can be unwanted guests in your garden. Do you want to know how to get rid of ground elders? Learn about the ways that you can get rid of them. Read more.

Ground elder is a swiftly growing perennial. It spreads fast in order to make a green carpet of beds and borders and crowds out the plants that are less vigorous in nature.

The scientific name of the ground elder is Aegopodium podagraria.

Some common names for this include goutweed, bishop’s weed, snow in the mountain, wild masterwort, English masterwort, and of course, ground elder.

It can be challenging to get rid of ground elder just like creeping charlie and creeping daisy wedelia because their roots have the tendency to sneak amongst the nearby plants. Often, it makes things more difficult through the regrowth of roots.

Ground Elder damages

Ground elder (Acer graveolens) is a common plant in many gardens and yards. It is typically a small shrub or small tree that can reach up to 10 feet tall.

The leaves are fan-shaped, and the flowers are small, blue-green, and have a single petal. Ground elder is a good plant for erosion control because of its strong root system.

  • Ground elder plant damage can be caused by several different pests and diseases, but the most common culprit is root rot.
  • Root rot is caused by an infection of the soil attached to the roots of the plants.
  • If left untreated, root rot can lead to the death of the plants and likely the destruction of any valuable trees or flowers that may grow near them.
  • The root and flowers of a ground elder can be harmful to dogs and cats if ingested, so be sure to remove any roots that are present before giving the plant to others.
  • Additionally, leaves and stems from ground elders can cause some people discomfort if touched, so avoid handling the plant at all.

How Can You Identify Ground Elder?

It is a herbaceous plant that spreads with the help of rhizomes. Rhizomes are underground stems that can initiate the regeneration process with a singular part that is found in the ground.

The regeneration can start from seed, but it is more likely to take place due to the rhizomes escalating from a nearby garden or a stem piece that is located in manure or compost.

The roots and rhizomes can be found throughout the year. However, the leaves are restrictive and appear in summer and spring.

The ground elder has the potential to reproduce in a rapid manner, and this can generate a carpet of plants due to the rhizomes. The growth of this can escalate to 90 cm in one single year.

Dealing With Ground Elder

1. Stem

With the exception of the flowering shoot, the stems of ground elder are found below the ground.

The leaf stalk has the tendency to emerge above the ground. We can observe a triangular shape in the leaf stem.

2. Roots

The ground elder is spread with the help of rhizomes, and hence, they can easily crawl from the neighboring garden and pave the way in the surrounding land.

The ground elder can also mistakenly invade the new plants due to the entangling of its white, fleshy rhizomes that are tucked up with the roots of the plants.

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There are around five rhizomes that have a formation at the base levels of all the leaves and tufts. With leaves that have around four to five cm of the gap, the bud leans in to develop into a root.

The roots of the ground elder can entangle quite voraciously in the soil, making it challenging to get rid of them. Due to this capability, they are also called Devil’s guts.

3. Leaves

Their leaflets are usually toothed, trefoil, and broad. The leaves are dark green in color and possess a matt finish. They can be seen to have a split in the middle.

4. Flowers

The ground elder is equipped with flowers that are white-colored and found in the shape of an umbrella.

You can see flowers that range around 6 cm in size. The individual flowers found in it have five cleft petals. The flowers tend to resemble the ground elder tree.

5. Seeds and Fruits

The fruits of the ground elder are shaped like an egg but are in flat form. These perennial plants are adept at seeding themselves by their umbrella heads constituting white flowers.

How To Get Rid Of Ground Elder

Getting rid of a ground elder may be challenging, but it is not impossible. You should start by the application of weed killer as the first step to get rid of ground elders.

You can apply this concoction on the foliage in the early days of spring for maximum effect. Make sure that you re-apply it after a period of six weeks.

 In case you spot any growth in between, apply the systemic weed killer as soon as possible. The rhizomes are located close to the ground; hence, they can also be removed by carefully plucking them out with a fork.

However, you need to be vigilant about these weeds; even the slightest root left can result in the growth of a new plant.

When you have a huge infestation, getting rid of ground elders can take some time. You need to have the patience to complete this process.

1. Opt For Herbicide Treatment

The weed killers are good at killing and burning foliage. However, they show no effects on the roots.

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  • The roots tend to grow despite the weed killers and sprout leafy growth that expands further.
  • You should use a weed killer which has glyphosate in it. This allows the systematic killing of the ground elders; it attacks the leaves and then moves on the roots to kill them too.
  • You should spray the ground elders when it is in the growing phases – these usually take place in March, April, September, or October.
  • If the ground elder has a large leaf area, then more of the weed killer can be absorbed by it and move to the root area.
  • You need to wait until the leaves enlarge and unfurl before exposing them to weed killers.

You can use a sufficient amount of the spray and coat the leaves with it. Repeat this process again to die down any regrowth that takes place. Applying one layer of weed killer is not going to get rid of ground elder.

Go for the first spray in the mid of summer, and you can do the second one in the later summer.

You should use the weed killer in the evening because it is more effective then. 


2. Opt for The Digging Process

You can dig out the ground elder too. You can initiate the process by hand-picking out all the ground elder that is visible. Make sure that you get the white spreading roots, too.

A small portion of the ground elder left can lead to a new plant. You can take a hand fork and a fork that can help with a trowel and spade so that you can cut the roots into small pieces.

You can cover the soil with a landscape cloth that can act as a weed-control membrane.

These methods are really good for getting rid of ground elders. Do try them out if you have a problem with them.

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Seasonal Changes of Ground Elder

The appearance and the properties of the plant vary with the different seasons. The leaves take the shape of small clover in spring; they take on a pale color underneath that is shadowed with green.

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The stem constitutes purple or light pink in color. However, you will often notice that the stem is more on the brown side when it is near the ground level.

Seasonal Change in Spring

During this season, the leaves of ground elders tend to unfurl and grow at a length of one foot. They are green in color, and the veins are purple in color.

Dark green leaves are seen to be bursting through the soil in the early times. You can see the dark green leaves bursting during these times.

Seasonal Change in Summer

In the summer, you can see a beautiful shade of green on the leaves. The leaves have a glossy shine on the upwards side, while they appear to be brown from the underside.

With serrated leaves, you can see white flowers growing. The flowers have green-purple veins on the stem, which constitute a cluster of seeds.

Seasonal Change in Autumn

The coming of autumn brings the reddening of leaves. The leaves take up different hues of orange and yellow too.

The foliage also changed its color from green to yellow. It dies down slowly in the winter and late autumn.

Seasonal Change in Winter

In this season, the ground elder has a hue of beige. The gorgeous green color is replaced by yellow and brown tones.

If there are no leaves, they may already be dead before the start of winter. If they are alive, the shape takes up an oval form instead of a slender one.

dealing With ground elder in a lawn?

Ground elder (Apiaceae) is a common weed in lawns that is origins in North America and can be a serious problem if not removed.

Here are some tips to get rid of ground elders in your lawn:

1. Start by checking the weeds regularly – if you find any ground elder, remove it as soon as possible.

2. Mowing the lawn regularly – this will help to keep the turf free of plants that could grow up around the seeds and roots of ground elders.

3. Covering the plants with mulch – this will prevent them from growing too tall, and also stop water from seeping into the soil where the ground elder lives.

4. Make sure your lawn is well-maintained. This will help keep the shrubs at bay and prevent them from growing too high on the lawn or through other plants.

5. Water your lawn regularly. This will help keep the ground elder branchlets wet so that they don’t develop roots and marijuana can grow nearby.

6. Use a herbicide when necessary. Herbicides work best when used in small doses, so be careful not to use too much or you might damage other plants in your garden!

Also read below useful gardening resources.

Wats To get rid of ground elder in a Flower Bed

Ground elder (Abutilon pilosus) is a shrub that can grow up to a meter tall.

It has green leaves and red flowers in the summer. The plant is an important ground cover for plants in flower beds.

The ground elder is a common plant in flower beds. It can be a problem if it grows too high, or if it’s not managed well. Here are some tips on getting rid of ground elder in a flower bed:

  • Water the plants regularly and evenly.
  • Keep the plants moving so they’re constantly getting new water and oxygen.
  • Maintain an even depth of mulch around the plants. This will help to keep the ground elder down and away from the roots.
  • Trim any low branches that come into contact with the ground elder.
  • To get rid of the ground elder, you will need to cut it down and remove the roots.

How to Deal With ground elder under a hedge

If you are interested in getting rid of ground elder under a hedge, there are a few things that you should keep in mind.

  • First, make sure that the ground elder is not growing meters tall above your plants.
  • Second, be aware of how to prune the plant so that it does not reach the ground and damage neighboring plants.
  • Finally, use nature’s method – cut off the stem of the tree rather than try to kill it–when possible to avoid competition.
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How to Remove ground elder in a border

Ground elder is a common weed in a border. It’s an annual shrub that can grow to be a tree. The leaves are green and the flowers are white or yellow. The flower heads are often on short stem plants.

Ground elder is easy to get rid of in a border. All you need is some effort and time.

  • First, identify the plant. Look for bright green leaves and white or yellow flowers. If you find a ground elder in your borderlands, don’t worry, it’s easy to remove it.
  • Second, cut off the roots and branches with a cutting tool. Then, pick up the plant by its roots and carry it away into another part of the garden.
  • Don’t let the weed stay around – it will soon spread new growth elsewhere!


The ground elder is a very persistent weed. You should be very consistent with it and repeat the process, again and again, to ensure that they do not come back.

Do not think that one digging process will be enough for your troubles. You need to remove all the rhizomes and roots to prevent the regrowth of ground elders.

the easiest way to get rid of ground elder FAQS

Q: Is Ground Elder Used For Anything?

Ground elder is used in some herbal medicines.

It has been primarily seen as a treatment for problems like gout, arthritis, rheumatism, and bladder and digestive system conditions.

Other than that, the ground elder is often used to tone down the sting and burning.

Q: How Do You Stop Ground Elders From Spreading?

You can get rid of ground elders by digging the ground. Also, you can starve off the weed.

Another good way to get rid of them is to use herbicides to get rid of this problem.

Q: Will vinegar kill ground elders?

The harmful effects of vinegar on ground elder plants have been a topic of debate for years.

Some believe that vinegar will kill the plants, while others argue that it will only make them more brittle and prone to injury.

But vinegar is a great weed-killer homemade remedy if used in the correct proportion or directly on the ground elders not on nearby plants as it may kill earthworms and beneficial soil worms.

Q: What can you use ground elder for?

Ground elder is a great plant to use for medicine. It can help relieve pain, fever, and other symptoms.

It can also be used as an ingredient in cooking and baking recipes.

Q: What plant Kills ground elders?

The rival plants are the Mexican marigold (an annual), and Tagetes minuta which kills ground elders slowly.

Q: Will ground elders grow through the grass?

Ground elder is a hardy ground cover that can grow through the grass.

Though not as tall as some other ground covers, it can form dense stands in areas with good soil and moisture.

Some experts believe that ground elders will eventually reach 100 feet tall if left unchecked.

Q: Will boiling water kill ground elders?

Ground elders can be a threat to water supplies if left untreated. If boiling water is used to treat ground elder, the plant may not survive.

Q: Is ground elder poisonous to horses?

The ground elder leaves of the ground elder can also be poisonous to horses.

This is because the plant contains compounds that can be toxic to horses.

There have been reports of horses being sickened after eating ground elder plants.

It is important for horse owners to be aware of the potential dangers of ground elders and take steps to prevent their animals from eating them.