The Year I Shall Win the Pachysandra War

Anybody who has heard me talk about gardening knows that I have an uneasy relationship with Japanese pachysandra (Pachysandra terminalis) which is easily the Number 1 planted shade groundcover in New England gardens. Oh sure, it spreads quickly to form a solid green mat in the shade under trees, and its evergreen foliage stays green all winter. You can find this plant at every garden club plant sale and divisions of it have been passed from gardener to gardener for at least a generation. There is probably not a single neighborhood in Massachusetts that doesn't have an acre or two of of what horticulture guru William Cullina calls "the vinyl siding of landscaping" (an expression that makes me giggle every time)...



But this plant has a darker side, through no fault of its own other than the fact that it's a foreign import into a landscape where it has no natural controls. Unfortunately, when Japanese pachysandra is planted near moist woodlands in New England, it can quickly spread into the woods through its underground roots, choking out anything else that happens to be growing there and threatening unique and fragile woodland plant communities. There are few (if any) native herbivores (insects or other leaf eaters) that can digest the foliage of this alien plant, or co-evolved pests that control its growth in any way. And once Japanese pachysandra is established in an area to its liking, good luck removing it. Ever!  

In the photo above, this lush border of pachysandra needs to be rigorously "pushed back" with a sharp spade twice a year, to keep it from becoming an entire backyard of pachysandra....

When we moved onto our small farm six years ago, we were delighted to find a beautiful stream flowing through it, and even more thrilled to discover unique native plants such as trilliums, jack-in-the-pulpit, Christmas and sensitive ferns, and winterberry holly growing in the rich, moist soil along its banks. I did find some Japanese pachysandra also growing along with Japanese barberry (another invasive planted by a previous well-meaning gardener), but I targetted those for removal in hopes of expanding the populations of the native plants. I spent a few hot summer days standing in the cool water of the stream pulling the roots out by hand (it was not a very large area), and thought my work was done.

Fast forward a year or two, when I noticed that not only was the pachysandra still holding on along the streamside, but that it had literally jumped the garden gate, and had spread at least 10' into the woods:



I began beating back the pachysandra again - trying carefully not to damage tree roots and the now-tattered jack-in-the-pulpits. I do not use the weed killer Roundup (or its cousin Rodeo) because of its negative impacts on amphibians, not to mention the fact that this heavily-used neuro-toxic herbicide is being increasingly linked with fetal cell death in humans, along with other alarming impacts to people and wildlife. So armed with only a small garden fork and my hands, I have opted for hand-to-hand pachysandra combat. This spring, I declared 2011 "The Year I Shall Remove the Pachysandra Regime", and each day I've resolved to pull out pachysandra roots for 15 minutes until the pachysandra is completely GONE. Wish me luck! I hope to report back in a few years on the newly restored native plant populations that should be making a comeback! 




Jack-in-the-Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) is one of the cool New England bog plants that I'm trying to save from a thickening mat of Japanese pachysandra in our "wet woods":











Photo of jack-in-the-pulpit copyright Trudy Walther




A note about hand-weeding: Pulling weeds by 
hand might seem like a lot of work, but its slow and steady pace is great for teaching you about the makeup of your soil and how certain plants impact their surroundings. I've noticed that where my pachysandra roots form a tangled mass of stolons (runners), they seem to suck up all the soil moisture from an otherwise boggy area, and the resulting soil becomes dry and lifeless. In my pachysandra monoculture, I find no other plants, no tiny decomposing insects or butterfly caterpillars looking for leaves they can eat, no salamanders or frogs, nothing at all except the thick white pachysandra roots. It's clear to me that the pachysandra has, in a few short years, impoverished my rich woodland soil, and nearby plants (and their associated wildlife) are all suffering from these rapid changes to their environment.

If you're also battling pachysandra, please share your control stories from the trenches! 



 

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Comments

  • 3/29/2011 12:43 PM Scott Hokunson wrote:
    Ellen, I have seen, planted, transplanted and tried to remove more Pachysandra years ago, than I care to talk about. I now live with the guilt of perpetuating this plant's (as well as other invasives) survival, in several of my gardens before I knew better. I hate it! Boring, boring, boring, as well as invasive. Not sure (other than it's easy to grow) what the deal is with its popularity. Best of luck with your project, and if it gets too daunting, throw a pulling party, I'll bring the beer!
    Reply to this
  • 3/29/2011 3:21 PM Ellen wrote:
    That's a great idea Scott, a "pulling party" would probably bring in the crowds and the beer might even keep 'em!! As I did my 15 minutes of root pulling today, I was wondering if goats eat pachysandra? My horses won't touch them but I do have a friend with goats and I keep thinking about how they LOVE to eat poison ivy and can be an effective control tool!
    Reply to this
  • 3/29/2011 3:29 PM Laurrie wrote:
    I love the comparison of pachysandra to landscaping's vinyl siding! Very apt. I have none here, but remember it well from yards everywhere when I was growing up. I know exactly what you mean about the zen of hand weeding and the intimate knowledge of the soil it brings. I spend a lot of time on hands and knees in the meadowy wild area behind me, weeding by hand and communing with the soil inch by inch. Good luck with your eradication!
    Reply to this
  • 3/30/2011 12:16 AM Paul S. wrote:
    Interesting - I didn't realize that pachysandra was an invasive plant. I had a lot of it in my old garden. I can testify that there is at least one native plant that can successfully grow in the middle of a mat of pachysandra. The bad news is that this plant is poison ivy.

    I actually kind of like the look of pachysandra. It's true, though, that it's not the plant to grow if you want a diversity of plants in the garden bed.
    It doesn't exactly "play well with others".
    Reply to this
  • 3/30/2011 11:15 AM Ellen wrote:
    Pachysandra is not currently on the MA invasives list, probably because its aggressive growth in moist woodlands is via its spreading roots only...it doesn't spread by reseeding the way most of the worst invasives do. It's only really ecologically invasive when it's able to invade woodland plant communities...
    Reply to this
  • 3/30/2011 11:38 AM Karen wrote:
    I have the same problem. I have been ignoring it because I have many other things to do in my landscape. I now realize what a mistake that was. I just checked and it is definitely invading my woodland. Thank you, you have inspired me to take action. I can give it 15 minutes a day,and I will begin today!
    Reply to this
  • 3/30/2011 4:50 PM Ellen wrote:
    On a vaguely spring-like day like today, 15 minutes didn't seem so bad! I think I did 20 I'm working my way from the outside of the pachysandra mat in, seems less daunting that way. Good luck Karen!! I know it will be worth it. I found a winterberry holly holding on for dear life in that area, never even knew it was there, hopefully it'll bounce back again! Love it
    Reply to this
  • 4/1/2011 8:04 PM Nell Jean wrote:
    Dig, dig, dig, pull, pull, pull.
    Pachysandra shall not win.

    (I'm lending you my mantra.)
    Reply to this
    1. 4/12/2011 8:59 AM Ellen wrote:
      Thank you for the mantra. All tools welcomed
      Reply to this
  • 4/2/2011 11:34 AM Barbara wrote:
    Your pachysandra problem sounds really wicked. Especially the fact that it drains the surrounding area of water and tolerates no competition at all. But YOU have the brain and I'm sure you'll win in the end!
    Reply to this
    1. 4/12/2011 9:00 AM Ellen wrote:
      Brains over brawn! I'm winning - probably 60% done. Thanks for the cheering from the sidelines Barbara!
      Reply to this
  • 4/2/2011 7:13 PM Jean-Jean's Garden wrote:
    Ellen, This is such a cautionary tale for those who don't understand why they shouldn't plant invasive plants. One of my Earth Day resolutions this year is to walk the acre of woodland on my property once a month so that I can know quickly if I'm having a problem with any of the known invasives. Good luck with your weeding.
    Reply to this
  • 4/12/2011 9:03 AM Ellen wrote:
    Jean - I am completely with you on that - eternal vigilance is the only way to stay on top of the invasives if you own woodlands or natural areas....but I do consider that a good thing - any time spent wandering around in nature is sooo therapeutic and the more you notice about your surroundings, the more fascinated you become with the world growing literally under your feet!
    Reply to this
  • 4/13/2011 6:27 PM Kate wrote:
    Your battle with the pachysandra sounds familiar, and you raise some great points. Why use a generic, invasive species when there are great native ground covers available to help with erosion instead? I'm "rooting" for ya!
    Reply to this
    1. 6/4/2012 8:00 PM Kerstin Poh wrote:
      I was planning on planting pachysandra, but after reading your article, I am rethinking it. What native alternative is there that does not leave the ground bare in the winter and subdues most weeds?
      Reply to this
  • 4/18/2011 8:32 PM Heather wrote:
    Hi Ellen,
    I declared war on the European Campanula in our yard a couple of years ago and nearly have it licked, so hang in there.
    Btw - there is a native Pachysandra, Pachysandra procumbens which is nice although is not native to New England.
    Heather
    Reply to this
    1. 4/23/2011 10:38 AM Ellen wrote:
      Heather - thanks for the input - I agree that the southern native Pachysandra procumbens makes a nice groundcover for a moist, shaded area. I planted several of them bare-root about 5 yrs ago and they have slowly spread into a lovely mat on and around an old tree stump..
      Reply to this
  • 4/21/2011 12:02 PM Tony wrote:
    I'm actually looking at getting some Pachysandra or Ajuga for a shady area in my yard. I'll gladly come and dig yours up!
    Reply to this
  • 4/23/2011 10:34 AM Ellen wrote:
    Tony, thanks for the offer but my Pachysandra patch is now gone. Something tells me it wouldn't have been worth your effort - I would have driven you crazy asking you to remove "every bit" of root from the soil
    I'm sure you can find it at any of the many garden club plant sales going on in MA this spring..but I hope you'll consider using the native Foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia) which is a really pretty white flowering spring native groundcover...or Heather's excellent suggestion of the Pachysandra procumbens which in my opinion is much more interesting, and better behaved, than the import...
    Reply to this
  • 9/12/2011 5:07 PM Hal Mann wrote:
    As I finish reading your pachysandra post, I look out my home office window at a massive stand of this foreign ground cover. For months I've been wondering what to replace it with. Now I know; Doesn't matter, start getting rid of it. There are plenty of natives that'll be happy to take the spot. Thanks.
    Reply to this
  • 9/13/2011 10:57 AM Ellen wrote:
    Hal, go for it! The removal is kind of satisfying if you devote a bit of schedule time to it. And watching to see what will show up is the best part of all! I checked my ex-patch earlier this week and the jack in the pulpits are berrying, the jewelweed and white wood asters have also turned up. Both of them are the usual suspects in terms of what usually seeds itself here, but they are both welcome. The migrating hummingbirds especially appreciate the jewelweed flowers Keep us posted!
    Reply to this
  • 9/18/2011 3:18 PM Tom wrote:
    Was thinking of importing to North Texas since I had transplanted some in Northern NY. Don't see any here because of the heat and clay soil in my area. Sounds alot like bamboo, once in, in forever. Will rethink although don't believe it has a chance in this heat.
    Thanks for article.
    Reply to this
  • 9/20/2011 5:09 PM Hal Mann wrote:
    Ellen, Your war with Pachysandra post came to my attention about the same time as some other Pachysandra stories surfaced. It made my pachy replacement become more urgent. Today I tackled it with about 4 hours of work. The most important thing I noticed was how DEAD the micro environment around these plants was. In all that pulling I didn't find a single spider, ant, caterpillar, or other insect. I'm now about 2/3 done and astounded by how far the roots have spread. In spite of my diligence I'm sure I'll be pull pachysandra from here for years. Now on with some native replacements. I can't wait to see this come alive. Thanks for the inspiration.
    Reply to this
  • 10/5/2011 11:38 AM Ellen wrote:
    Hal, your post reminded me to get back to the Pachy area again for one last pull this season. All the rain we've had makes the roots pull easily from the soil so it's a good time to do it...it's still hanging on for dear life but I pulled quite a few more stragglers out. As you said, it's a long-term commitment. I saw slightly more micro-life in the soil than when I first tackled it - a few millipedes and an earthworm or two - but as you said, the life of the soil is still going to take a while to rebound..good luck
    Reply to this
  • 10/7/2011 7:11 PM Hal Mann wrote:
    Ellen, you'll get a kick out of my efforts with the nasty P plant described in tonight's post to my blog. Thought about you as I wrote it. I'm thinking they could make a good B horror flick about the Pachysandara that swallowed Cleveland.
    Reply to this
  • 3/19/2012 7:00 PM D L wrote:
    Has anyone gotten a rash pulling out pachysandra? Something gave me a rash on just one spot on my face, but I never had a rash before and I am not allergic to poison ivy. I live in the northeast. I have been beating down the pachysandra for a few years and it rears up in the rocks and other plants still. I heated the pulled stringy roots on a hot sidewalk to kill them or just trash them. Once I put the roots in a compost heap-bad idea-but I kept on top of the runners there. Pachysandra is all over my neighbors' yards and we have so many native species to enjoy and the fauna they attract. My helpful Mom will try to rescue the orphans and I find little pachysandras in my yard. Pachysandra is like vinyl siding: tough as plastic and overwhelms competition. One could use plastic plants and they serve the same purpose. Sometimes there is a consequence to our choices in plants.
    Reply to this
  • 3/28/2012 12:26 PM Ellen wrote:
    Hm, I've never heard of Jap. pachysandra causing a rash - maybe you touched Stinging Nettle instead?

    I agree about not composting the roots after pulling them - they will happily grow right out of your compost pile and continue their woodland domination. I learned this the hard way with Bishops Goutweed many years ago I throw mine into a trash can I keep near our barn - cover with the lid and let it bake in the summer heat until the roots are completely brown and dead - even then I am nervous about composting them because they do seem to be able to return quite easily from the dead. Thanks for sharing your experiences...
    Reply to this
    1. 4/15/2013 2:07 PM Leslie wrote:
      Congratulations on eradicating the pachysandra. I have been battling Bishops Goutweed for years now and it is winning. It actually seems to like having me tug at its roots. I thought about trying to grow something taller and native to crowd it out, like May Apple. Any suggestions?
      Reply to this
  • 3/29/2012 1:53 PM Katie wrote:
    Oh my. I wish I had found this site last year. Thank you for your blog. I planted some Pachysandra last fall from cuttings my dad was disposing of. We have a BORING front landscape that the worst landscapers in the history of new construction put in. Everything in the front is deciduous so in the winter our front is without color. I thought putting the back half of our front space instead of mulch would look nicer in the winter. Now I am getting worried...I hope it doesn't take over. any advice at keeping in check would be greatly appreciated.
    Reply to this
  • 4/15/2012 8:06 PM Carolyn wrote:
    I as well have been waging an epic battle against the pachysandra. Not only does it suck the life out of the land, but it harbors ticks, and mosquitoes, and mice. I hate the stuff! The former owner of my home landscaped essentially with pachysandra. There are three shrubs and an apple tree in front of the house. I cleared 1/3 of it in 2010 using the same method I'd use to clear grass, cut into squares and roll back like a carpet, rake over and pull more roots. It is painstakingly slow, but has proved effective. Unfortunately I took 2011 off and am back at it in 2012. My goal is to clear it all from the front of the house this year. We'll tackle the back in 2013?
    Reply to this
  • 4/20/2012 9:04 PM Sore Hands wrote:
    My Wife and I pulled up a lot of this stuff today. I had no clue what is was until my neighbors landscaper showed up to spring clean his yard (must be nice to have money) He mentioned that it was VERY hard to get rid of in the very early stages of our work.

    I spent a good 7 or so hours at in. First we tackled just getting up the green, for the roots where like 4"/5" thick.

    My wife gave up after we had pulled up the top. I made a dump run and went back at it with a couple different thatch rakes, a hoe, and even a "hack" saw. I have gone through about half the infected area pulling up the roots. I hand till and pick out roots going down probably another 4 inches into the soil. I would work an area, move a little further than "re-do" the section completed before. THIS WAS THE HARD PART. "I've got blisters in my fingers "

    I just moved into this house SEP 2011 and I have no clue how long this stuff was there for. It was growing at the base of a HUGE pine and taking over the entire side of the house. The thickness of the roots was mind blowing.

    We are in for a lot of rain here in the Northeast and I probably won't have time until next week to try and tackle the rest of the mess.

    I can only hope the closer I get to the tree the easier the roots will be.

    When I get started on something my "OCD" kicks in and I will more than likely re work the entire area after completing it. I am depressed to know that I probably wont be totally finished for years. =(

    Thanks for the VERY informative Blog and all the comments from others that it has produced!
    Reply to this
  • 4/23/2012 2:39 PM Ellen wrote:
    Sore Hands, an OCD personality definitely helps this kind of project! Your approach is exactly the same one that I used..I'm happy to report that this spring there are very few Pachysandra shoots that have popped up so I am pretty sure the battle is mostly over. Although, I just found another patch in another area of woods on the other side of our property. Sigh. Good luck with your eradication efforts and I'm sure they will be worth the effort!
    Reply to this
  • 4/25/2012 8:12 AM Louise Brindle wrote:
    Unfortunatley I have a pachysandra problem also combined with a snake population, which is another reason to rid this plant from my entrance. I do not like chemical removal, but am not comfortable pulling this plant out as I have been doing pre snake population. If there are any other ways to kill this plant, I would like to know. Thanks for posting and hopefully answering quickly as I plan my assault soon.
    Reply to this
    1. 6/5/2012 8:28 AM Ellen wrote:
      Louise - you could try smothering the area with thick sheets of cardboard topped with 6" of mulch to kill the pachysandra underneath. If it doesn't kill the plant outright, it will certainly weaken it enough that you could easily pull what remains after a half-year...
      Reply to this
  • 5/11/2012 7:11 AM BOB wrote:
    What alternative ground cover would you suggest for ground cover in shaded areas? Thank you.
    Reply to this
    1. 6/5/2012 8:26 AM Ellen wrote:
      Bob - if you are in New England and have moist shady soil, you can try Running Foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia). This does great under deciduous trees and blooms in a sea of foamy white flowers in early spring - gorgeous! You can also try Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense). Both of these spread to form a nice weed-suppressing mat.
      Reply to this
  • 5/26/2012 7:32 PM Jonesia Radford wrote:
    I live in California and had never heard of pachysandra until I received my new Country Living Magazine. I found it at a very large commercial nursery today and bought a flat, they said it is a wonderful ground cover for the shade, nothing about it being invasive. Do you think it would be just as bad here? Please let me know what you think.

    Jonesia
    Reply to this
    1. 6/5/2012 8:24 AM Ellen wrote:
      Jonesia - I am not familiar with gardening in California so I'm not qualified to answer your question - it is aggressive in the cool, moist woodlands we have in abundance here in New England. I'm guessing it would not be badly behaved in the arid climate of California. I'd ask a local garden coach or natural gardening expert...
      Reply to this
      1. 6/5/2012 8:31 AM Hal Mann wrote:
        Inspired last year by Ellen's post, I pulled 7 bags of pachysandra and roots out of one bed. Very few have popped up this year, but I'm diligently pulling those too. I'm evolving but replacing it all with Bloodroot,Canada Anemone, Wild Ginger, Wild Geraniuum, and some other forbs like Cardinal Flower, Blue Lobelia, and Swamp Milkweed (for the monarchs.) None of these are everygreen, but a normal winter snow cover will still make this a pleasing site. Here in NW Ohio, woodland phlox (an evergreen) might also work well here.
        Reply to this
  • 6/1/2012 2:23 PM Chris wrote:
    Once I pretty much clear out the pachysandra plants and roots, could I put garden lime in the soil. Would that make it inhospitable to the surviving pieces of the plant? My plan is to move blackberries and raspberries into the spot--would the lime enrich the depleted soil? If so, how much would you advise to make it pachy-unfriendly and berry-friendly?
    Reply to this
    1. 6/5/2012 8:40 AM Ellen wrote:
      Chris, not sure where you are based, but if you are putting blackberries & raspberries into that area, I don't think you need to worry about liming the soil. I would just add some good compost to the soil when you plant the berry plants. The compost will enrich the soil and improve drainage for your new plants.
      Reply to this
  • 6/6/2012 3:11 PM April wrote:
    Ellen,

    Thanks so much for giving me the skinny on pachysandra. I live in an area in the southeast in which I share the landscape with deer, and deer love to eat plants that you "put out for them". I've had to learn the hard way over the last 15 years that the best landscape plan is to install plants that deer don't like.

    i was in a nursery recently, and the supplier had a large display of pachysandra and the labels indicated they were deer-resistant. This, of course, caught my attention, and I seriously considered using it in my yard. Fortunately, I decided to research the plant before I bought any. You came to my rescue with the not-so-pretty, need-to-know information about pachysandra.

    No pachysandra for me, thank you very much.
    Reply to this
    1. 6/19/2012 10:52 AM Ellen wrote:
      You're welcome April - and good for you researching before you buy! Nurseries are in the business of selling plants and not necessarily thinking about ecological impact of the plants they sell..
      Reply to this
  • 6/9/2012 9:26 AM amy wrote:
    our puppy did most of her potty training in the bed we had by the house. where she pee'd the most it died - so i decided to pull it out and plant something else. i wish now she would have pee'd all over them! i see i am in for it for years to come!
    Reply to this
    1. 6/11/2012 1:08 PM Ellen wrote:
      ha Amy - that's a good use for it! One of our dogs loves to sleep in a small patch of Jap. Pachysandra that we have next to our house, the foliage must be nice and cool in summer...it works as a dog bed too
      Reply to this
  • 6/16/2012 12:25 AM Debra wrote:
    After 10 years in northern Nevada, our 2 crab apples and one northern red oak finally shaded out and killed all of our xeric, sun-loving foundation & walkway plants. In their place this spring, we've been gleefully planting hostas, coral bells, bleeding hearts, azaleas, hydrangeas and pachysandra. Here in the desert, we practically have to stand over every plant in the landscape with water and fertilizer. I don't expect the pachysandra to choke out the other plants. They look so green and cool under our trees. I hope their aggressive nature in your climate translates into polite, self-contained, co-existence here.
    Reply to this
    1. 6/19/2012 10:47 AM Ellen wrote:
      Debra, not that I'm a desert expert, but I'm guessing that pachysandra won't ever be a problem invasive in that kind of location...
      Reply to this
  • 6/17/2012 7:47 AM fern wrote:
    i struggle with both pachysandra and vinca. Huge masses of both here. Not sure which is worse.
    Reply to this
    1. 6/19/2012 10:50 AM Ellen wrote:
      Fern, I also have patches of vinca that I'm constantly beating back too. Not sure which is worse. I think the pachysandra is worse because the roots break easily when you pull them, and every bit of root seems to sprout a new plant. The vinca doesn't seem to spread as fast, either...although it's a close run...
      Reply to this
  • 6/19/2012 3:10 PM Tom wrote:
    I transplanted Pachys in New York State under trees and was delighted. anything can be controlled and at least unwanted weeds are blocked out. Wonder if could exist in Texas but don't see any being sold.
    Reply to this
  • 6/22/2012 8:06 PM Anna wrote:
    I'm here to proclaim victory over this dreadful failure of nature (sorry, nature). Not to be the johnny come lately, but there's hope for this stuff outside of just pulling it up by hand. I started pulling it out a large 40 ft long section of this stuff tonight. One hour later and two feet of greenery later cleared. Only 38 more feet to go, which is when I came face to face with the reason why I've been putting this job off. And when I mean cleared two feet, I mean I got the bulk of it out but a gazillion deep-seated roots remained. Same thing as others said. This takes someone with too much time on their hands (years) and one thing I don't have a lot of is years to mess with it. I did what someone else recommended on this forum -- covered it up. At first I thought it was laughable, but I put cardboard down over grass when I installed raised beds, so this can't be that much difference except that this stuff is super thick and it will be bulky. I grabbed some cardboard, a long piece of plastic (again, sorry, nature) and some old frost cover fabric. I imagine you could used just about anything sturdy enough. I put small rocks just to hold it all down, and then I piled a whole bunch of compost (I had on hand already) right on top, nice and thick. Then I stomped over it to compress it down. Then I placed some edging stones around the "new" bed. Granted, it's not very deep for planting something new, (4-5 inches) but it's enough to spread wildflowers or another more friendly ground cover. Pulling it all out by hand is just not worth it unless you're a glutton for punishment. Take my advice people and lay something down and then pile your dirt/compost/mulch right on over it and build a raised bed!!
    Reply to this
    1. 6/25/2012 10:48 AM Ellen wrote:
      Anna - thanks for your post! The smother method works great for grass and some types of weeds, but I'm interested to hear whether your existing Pachysandra will simply grow back from the roots next year after the cardboard breaks down - please keep us posted! I imagine the plastic will prevent the roots from coming back up if it's there for a couple of years, but you'd have to eventually take the plastic out and that could be messy. Thanks for your input...
      Reply to this
  • 6/25/2012 1:16 PM fern wrote:
    While this is a good idea, it's not practical for someone like me who doesn't happen to have tons of mulch to lay a deep enough blanket of mulch in which to plant. and I also have massive amounts of pachysandra to deal with. As well as vinca.
    Reply to this
  • 7/21/2012 9:49 AM Bob wrote:
    I love your blog. It is practical, informative and supportive and applies directly to my experience with my overly-ambitious, under-staffed (me), daunting, but hopeful Northern CT garden. I have a moderate-sized patch of pachysandra under a spreading crabapple tree that seems well-contained by mowing on one side and a substantial retaining wall on the other, though it does emerge from chinks in the cement block. However, I have been told by a professional gardener that the pachy. can eventually threathen the health of the tree. I don't know if this by strangling/choking out the root system or depriving the system of nutrients or both. Has anyone heard of this theory. Thanks, and I look forward to following your blog.
    Reply to this
  • 7/28/2012 4:08 PM Diane wrote:
    We are near the end of digging up a huge patch of this dreaded stuff, digging down deep enough
    to remove the roots - so we thought! We started to dig a hole to plant a tree in the cleared area and found the roots were still about 2ft. down.
    I have left my poor husband at it and have settled down to have a relaxing cool drink!
    Reply to this
  • 12/4/2012 10:06 PM Tony wrote:
    Buckthorn is even worse. Grows like a weed but turns into a 20ft tree. I've been cutting, chopping and pulling hundreds of them for years and will never win the war on Buckthorn. Ever.
    Reply to this
  • 3/25/2013 3:55 AM Bob Hendrickson wrote:
    I had no idea this stuff was so tenacious. It is perfect for my deep shade areas and I am currently transplanting it into another problem area. I will keep a closer watch on it and make sure it does not get into the adjacent woodlands even though it is tempting to use it to choke out the ragweed that grows along the first 10 ft of the woods. Thanks for your very informative blog.
    Reply to this
  • 8/8/2013 7:37 PM Edna wrote:
    I know what y'all mean with the horrid Pach. but I'm in my fifties now and need something that doesn't require clucking over all summer. It's funny the snobbery around a plant. What chokes out weeds along along the hot sunny driveway (that won't scratch the car)? I'm game to plant anything in this gulag area (in PA)BTW
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  • 8/21/2013 6:11 PM fern wrote:
    Edna, it really has nothing to do with snobbery. Mature pachysandra is definitely a problem. One problem-free plant that loves full sun and requires little attention other than cutting off the dead flower heads in fall or spring is Autumn Joy sedum. It is insect-free and drought-tolerant. It grows in clumps that get larger over the years but never gets out of hand. Beautiful flowers in late summer/early fall. If you mulch around it with newspaper underneath, it makes it easier to keep weeds under control.
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  • 8/27/2013 9:17 AM wayj wrote:
    Tried Round Up 1st with minimal results. I found a homemade herbicide on line. 1/4 cup Dawn dish soap and 3 lbs of regular salt, mixed in a gal of water. Apply with sprayer. Shake sprayer frequently to keep salt dissolved. Leaves on both poison ivy and pachysandra showed visible wilting after 4 hrs and steady decline after that.
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  • 2/10/2014 11:57 AM Matt wrote:
    Great discussion topic; may have convinced me to go after the Japanese Pach I inherited in a garden border and in a small bordering woodland. My only reluctance is two-fold: 1) there are young hickories and oaks going up through it, which I desire, so I am fearful to disrupt whatever they seem to be succeeding with; and 2) the labor, of course. So I'm very curious about the cardboard/paper bag/newspaper + mulch option. Would a sturdy covering plus layers of fall leaves potentially do the trick, even if it takes a year or two to revert to good soil for native groundcover? Thanks!
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  • 2/11/2014 9:48 AM Christopher Collins wrote:
    Paper and plastic will help. I put that down three summers ago and, when I uncovered those patches last year, I found it reduced the vitality of the foliage, but, down below, those devilish white roots were still there creeping about searching for the light or perhaps waiting for me to die. My son, son-in-law, and I hoed and hand-pulled much of them and subsequently other roots, just waiting for their chance, sent up vigorous stems (blackberry and comfrey). Last fall I did my best to paper-mulch these plants and put in a little ramp plantation, too. But we shall see if victory is mine this year. La lucha continua.
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