Bedstraw in garden

Asked May 30, 2018, 9:43 AM EDT

Hi there, My family is having difficulties removing a massive stand of bedstraw (galium spp.) from our backyard garden. It has a large and expansive (but shallow) rooting structure spanning almost 1/3 acre. Pictures attached. Do you know of ways to remove bedstraw without damaging surrounding plants? We've tried manual removal without success, as it's nearly impossible to remove the entire root and rhizome area. Thanks!

Harford County Maryland

1 Response

Is this 1/3 acre of vegetables, ornamental beds or just a large expanse of bedstraw? This is not a weed that is usually a big problem. Bedstraw is a shallow-rooted annual, so it doesn't seem to match your description. We're not sure you are battling bedstraw entirely.

The roots in the photos are not bedstraw roots. They may be from trees nearby. They look woody. If you sprayed an herbicide (using a shield to keep it off ornamentals), it would be absorbed by these roots and kill whatever plant belongs to the roots. If this is a vegetable bed, we can't recommend an herbicide anyway.

We notice the mulch is very shallow, with some spot of bare soil. To be an effective weed germination barrier, mulch would need to be 2-3" deep, and solid.

At this point, we would recommend that you rake off the remaining mulch (or leave it, if it is even thinner in most areas), cover the problem areas with 3-4 layers of newspaper, and mulch well. This will kill all seedlings and prevent any more from germinating. It's very effective.

This will keep the area clean this year, but there are undoubtedly weed seeds in the soil. Mulch yearly, and use newspapers when needed.