Gout weed and creeping Charlie

(Question)

Hello,
I’ve been battling these 2 weeds in my garden for several years using a variety of natural means. I have never used chemicals in my garden and hope never to do so. The most recent method I used on goutweed was stifling it under cardboard over the last winter. However, by spring, it was sprouting through perforations it made in the cardboard. (I had carefully overlapped all the pieces.) This summer, I covered some of the affected area with plastic garbage bags and then poured soil over that and planted a ground cover; so far I haven’t seen anything come through, but it’s only been a few weeks, so I’m still apprehensive… Do you have
any other ideas I could try? I live in downtown Toronto, conditions are both sun and shade, with wonderful soil – loam I believe.

(Answer)

Dear gardener, your soil sounds wonderful!

I do not wish Goutweed on anyone, however, do not despair, depending on the area to be covered and the conditions around it, you will succeed.

It is important that you understand the growing habits of both weeds in order to tackle them. I agree with you and I would NEVER use chemicals as they do not solve the problem.

Goutweed’s root system buries itself within 1 foot of the surface. Cutting the weed down would weaken it but will not make it disappear. However, not allowing the goutweed to bloom,  will stop future plants from germinating. In order to get rid of Goutweed properly, you need to follow its root and completely unearth it. This is easier after a good rain. Please note that just 5mm of root left will create a new plant. Of course this job is easier if you do not have other plants in the area. If there are shrubs or trees, the roots of the goutweed will intertwine with that of the shrub or tree and are difficult to eliminate. If the area has perennials, it may be advisable to dig them and clean/eliminate any of the Goutweed roots. Your idea of placing plastic bags and mulch is a good way to control them although it does not allow water and air into the soil so it is not a healthy alternative in the long run, but it will definitely help.

Creeping Charlie grows by rhizomes, creeping on the surface and having nodes where shoots and roots allow for the plant to expand. The best way of eliminating it is by actually digging it from the surface as much as you can. If it has gone into your grass, the job is harder and can only be controlled if it is not all over the grass, otherwise consider it to be a green groundcover.

Hope this information has giving you some additional ideas.

Best wishes and be patient but diligent!