Challenging weed that likes to hide under plants – how do I get rid of or prevent?

(Question)

We moved into a house in downtown Toronto this year and dug up the garden and replanted some annuals this year to see how they would do before doing anything more extensive.
There is this fast growing skinny weed that grows and hides under plants and flowers. I am getting very frustrated with weeding it. What is the best way to get rid of it/prevent it? I tried cedar bark mulch and this didn’t make a difference. Should I wait until the fall or spring and then dig up the garden? I have a few perennials on the side of the garden that I want to preserve. Thanks

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(Answer)

Your skinny winding weed is called Field Bindweed. This weed loves to twine around other plants and will produce small white trumpet flowers. The problem with it is that it does bind plants and will choke them out by twining around them and creating a mat of vines on top of plants. The bindweed spreads by root and rhizomes (stems that grow underground parallel to the surface). The roots break very easily and the pieces of root will begin to grow into new plants. Your best bet is to pull up this plant whenever you see it and to weaken it by covering it up to block light from reaching it.

Since your garden is quite empty at the moment I would suggest that you pull the mulch back and lay down about 7 layers of newspaper on top of the bare spots where the bindweed is and then put the mulch back on top for the rest of the summer. This will weaken the plant and should prevent it from spreading much. In the spring pull up the bindweed where ever you see it. Put your new plants in and then apply a nice thick layer of mulch, about 2-4 inches. The mulch will continue to create a barrier between the weed leaves and light and will slow and weaken the growth of the plant. As long as you stay on top of the battle the Field Bindweed will get weaker and less proficient allowing your chosen plants to grow and take over the garden leaving less room for the weed. Take heart, it is possible to control!

http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/facts/01-007.htm#Figure2