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How to Get Rid of Stinging Nettles

By Cindy Hill ; Updated September 21, 2017

Stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) grow in wet, woody areas and shady waste spaces in nearly every region. The slightest physical contact with the stem and leaf portion of the plant creates a painful, burning sensation in the skin. Mercifully, the painful reaction is usually short-lived and does not create an ongoing poison-ivy-like rash, although some people report continued itching in the area for a few days. Nettles can be eradicated through application of glysophate herbicides combined with digging and pulling, but avoiding that sting in the process can be a challenge.

Put on closed toe shoes or boots, work pants, long sleeved shirt, and gardening gloves. Cut the stand of nettles to 6 inches from the ground using a scythe or garden machete.

Rake the cut nettles into a heavy-duty lawn and leaf bag and discard.

Apply glysophate weed killer to cut stand of nettles in proportions according to the manufacturer's directions.

Wearing closed toe boots, long pants, long sleeved shirt and gloves, dig out roots of nettles stand two weeks after glysophate herbicide application, using flat bladed shovel. Place hardware cloth over wheelbarrow. Place roots on hardware cloth and give a shake to allow dirt to fall into the wheelbarrow. Place root and plant masses in heavy-duty lawn and leaf bag and discard. Return soil from wheelbarrow to area where nettles were growing.

Spray glysophate herbicide over the ground in the area where nettles were removed, again according to manufacturer's directions. Repeat process the following spring if additional nettle growth is seen.

 

Things You Will Need

  • Small, sharp scythe, or garden machete
  • Long-handled fan-shaped rake
  • Heavy-duty lawn and leaf bags
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Glysophate weed killer in spray bottle
  • Flat-bladed shovel
  • Hardware cloth, 4-foot by 4-foot piece
  • Closed toe boots
  • Long, heavy pants
  • Long sleeved work shirt
  • Heavy garden gloves

Tips

  • Always wear closed-toe shoes, long heavy pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and heavy garden gloves when working around nettles. Shake out your clothes thoroughly before bringing them indoors or placing them in the washing machine so that pieces of nettle do not get transferred to other garments.
  • Nettles are delicious, highly nutritious cooked greens, and they lose their sting when cooked. Cut the young tips off nettles in the spring and cook them before you eradicate the patch.

About the Author

 

A freelance writer since 1978 and attorney since 1981, Cindy Hill has won awards for articles on organic agriculture and wild foods, and has published widely in the areas of law, public policy, local foods and gardening. She holds a B.A. in political science from State University of New York and a Master of Environmental Law and a J.D. from Vermont Law School.