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How to Remove Ground Cover

By S.F. Heron ; Updated September 21, 2017
Ground ivy is a difficult ground cover to eliminate.
ivy image by Alison Bowden from Fotolia.com

Ground cover serves as essential protective layer around tree roots and in hard-to-grow areas of a property. These low-growing plants cover ugly areas that otherwise wouldn't be used for foliage plants. Sometimes gardeners inherit ground covers with a new home purchase or neglect their own plants to the point of invasion. In these cases, knowing how to remove ground cover helps limit an extended effort to tackle these invasive plants.

Physically remove as many ground cover plants as possible using a garden hoe. This tool limits bending and allows scraping of the soil to remove foliage. Ground covers tend to have shallow root systems so this method of manual removal should tackle most of the foliage and roots.

Use the trowel to dig around plants that resist easy pulling from the soil. Toss all foliage and roots into a recycling waste bag for removal from the yard.

Plan to monitor and tackle this problem at regular intervals throughout the growing season to limit the ability of the ground cover to take over the yard a second time. Rest assured that you missed some portion of one root or vine. It's extremely difficult to remove all ground cover with one concerted effort.

Choose one of two different mixtures for homemade plant killer to apply to the ground cover. Be aware that both have unknown effects on ornamental plants but work effectively to kill many weeds and ground covers.

Mix 10 ounces of borax (laundry booster) with 4 ounces of warm water in a bucket. Stir the mixture until the borax dissolves and add 2.5 gallons of water. Pour mixture into a sprayer or plastic spray bottle. This volume of solution treats 1,000 square feet.

Create an alternative mixture by emptying at least 1 cup of vinegar from the commercial container. Add 1 cup of salt and 2 Tbsp. of dish detergent. Recap the bottle and shake well. Fill a plastic spray bottle with the solution.

Spray either solution on remaining ground cover foliage and soak the plant thoroughly. Make sure the product doesn't touch nearby plants. Reapply the solution in 14 days to control ground cover growth.


Things You Will Need

  • Hoe
  • Trowel
  • Yard waste bags
  • Borax
  • Commercial-strength vinegar
  • Dish detergent
  • Table salt
  • Water
  • Large bucket
  • Sprayer