Skip to main content

Remove storage organs

Perennial weeds depend on resources stored in roots or rhizomes to establish new shoots the following year. An effective, though laborious, method of controlling many perennial weeds is to physically pick the storage organs out of the soil when an infested area is being prepared for planting. Because the labor involved is great, this approach is only recommended for combating small patches of otherwise difficult to manage species.

Turn the soil by hand with a spade. Save the first shovel-fulls to one side so that you are always turning into a trench. Place the shovel-full of soil on its side in the trench and strike it with the back of the shovel blade to break up the soil. The soil will tend to fracture along the roots and rhizomes. These will generally be 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick and white or brown. Pick them out into a bucket. You do not need to remove every tiny fragment to get very substantial control, but you will need to consistently pull any shoots that emerge from the remaining fragments. Although picking rhizomes is hard work, if your follow up is good you can eradicate the weed and thereby prevent many hours of weeding in future years.