Of all the weeds we have discussed on this blog, perhaps the most difficult to get rid of is bindweed.
You might recognize bindweed (also known as creeping jenny) from roadside ditches, where morning-glory-like light pink trumpet-shaped flowers spread with climbing vines. When mature, the vines sport arrowhead-shaped leaves. Bindweed starts low to the ground but will quickly begin to crawl up signs, trellises, or other plants; the name comes from the tendency to bind other plants together into a tangled mess.
Bindweed is a persistent plant that can establish deep root systems and leave seeds that can be dormant for over fifty years. It doesn’t stop growing once it starts and has choked out many a yard, garden, or farm plot. No matter what tactic you take to remove bindweed, you’re going to need to be persistent, too, and unafraid of repeating the same process several times to be effective.
If bindweed is the only plant in the area—whether because it’s choked out everything else or because it’s in a spot like the cracks in your driveway or an empty garden plot—you can get rid of it with boiling water. Simply pour it over the plants and after a few times, the plant should wither.
Mechanical control of bindweed by snipping off the vines at ground level is also a choice, though remember, you’re going to need to keep doing it for a while. Clipping the vines as low down as possible multiple times exhausts the plant’s energy sources and eventually it will wither and die. Mowing alone cannot eliminate the weed, because the plant is too low to the ground and a lawnmower does nothing to the root systems underneath.
Bindweed also does not like competition, so planting grasses that sprout earlier can take away the resources this pesky weed needs to take over your area. It doesn’t like shade, either, so like we always say—keeping your grass at a slightly higher height is a good way to protect your lawn. Adequate nitrogen fertilization is also a good bet, though remember that it might take years for you to see bindweed dying off. It’s worth it in the long run, but it takes patience. Bindweed also can withstand droughts very well (and seems to prefer dryer soil) so improving irrigation is always a good thing to consider.
This weed is better at pesticides than almost any other plant, so if you’re planning on using chemicals you might reconsider.
If all of this seems too overwhelming and you decide your lawn or garden is best left to its bindweed overlords, there are medicinal uses to the plant. Across the world, its leaves are eaten similar to spinach, applied to wounds to help with bleeding or toxins, and used as a green dye. The roots can be used as a purgative, the flowers are believed to have antibacterial properties, and there is even research analyzing the effectiveness at shrinking tumors! So if you can’t beat it, you might as well enjoy the flowers and make the best of it. (As always, be careful ingesting plants until you know they have not been in contact with pesticides.)
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