Weeds have a way of growing even in areas where you think it wouldn’t be possible. Many gardeners have felt the frustration of trying to grow plants only to find their gardens overtaken by weeds. One of the hardiest and most common forms of weeds is the pokeweed. In addition to being a nuisance to native and non-native plants, pokeweed is also poisonous, so it is imperative that you get rid of it as soon as you see signs of it.
Use any or all of these methods to get rid of pokeweed:
- Pull out the weeds and/or dig up the weeds by the taproot.
- Put weed killer on young plants.
- Repeatedly cut the weeds down, either with garden sheers or with a lawnmower.
It is very important to be careful and use the proper protection when you are getting rid of pokeweed as well as choosing times when the pokeweed will be easier to remove. Read on to find out more details of how to properly and effectively rid your yard of pokeweed.
Use the Proper Equipment
Before you get started on removing the pokeweed in your yard, whichever method you choose, it is very important to have the proper gear and the right equipment.
In terms of clothing, you should make sure all your skin is completely covered, as exposure to the pokeweed can cause rashes or potentially have any toxins from the pokeweed move through your skin and into your bloodstream. The proper clothing should include the following:
- Gardening gloves These are the most important, and you want them to be sturdy as you will be using your hands to do most of the work.
- Long pants and long-sleeved shirts. In case your legs or arms brush against the plants, you want to make sure there is a barrier to avoid exposure to any toxins on or in the plants.
- Boots. These are a good idea to wear during gardening, in general, but especially important when taking out pokeweed to avoid your feet brushing against the plant.
- A facemask and goggles. This will keep your face protected when you use an herbicide or weed killer.
For the equipment you need to get rid of the pokeweed effectively, it is best to have all of the following:
- Lawnmower or pruning shears They will be used to cut the plant back.
- Garbage bag When you have cut or removed the plants and seeds, you will want to throw them away immediately, so they do not have the chance to root and grow elsewhere in your yard.
- Shovel This will be used if you are at the stage in weeding where you are trying to get the pokeweed out by its taproot.
- Soil screen This is used to help sift through the soil to make sure you get any small pokeweed roots or berries.
- Wheelbarrow This is a place to put the plant parts until you have enough to throw them in the trash.
Pull Out Young Pokeweed Plants
If the pokeweed is young and small, it is probably the easiest and simplest to remove. If possible, wait until after it has rained as the soil becomes loose and it becomes easier to remove the plant.
To pull young plants out, firmly grasp (with gloved hands) at the base of the plant and pull it out. Do not pull from the top of the pokeweed, as it will just cause the plant to tear but leave the majority of the plant in place.
Once you have pulled the plant out, put it directly into a garbage bag. Alternatively, you can put it in a wheelbarrow to be laid out in an area without soil.
Get Rid of the Pokeweeds’ Taproot
The most effective way of making sure the pokeweed doesn’t come back is by digging up the taproot. Once again, it will be an easier endeavor if you can wait until after it rains, as the soil will be looser and easier to dig up.
Using all the protective gear you would use pulling up young plants or when applying herbicide, do the following:
- If the plant is big, use the pruning shears to get rid of the bigger branches to help you get closer to the base.
- Dig a circle approximately a foot away and 1 foot down from the plant
- Pull the bottom part of the plant at the very base up (this is the root).
- Keep digging till you find the taproot which is white and could be up to 6 inches in diameter.
- Rub remaining dirt across the soil screen; this will separate the soil from the any berries left behind
After the root has been separated from the rest of the soil, put it in an area where it can dry out and has no chance to grow again, then refill the hole.
Repeatedly Cut Down Pokeweed
If you decide to go the cutting route, be aware that you will need to cut the pokeweed down repeatedly. It will eventually stop growing back, but it may take a while, so you must be patient and consistent.
If you decide to use herbicide, there are two ways to go about it. Once again, put on the proper protective gear (most importantly goggles) and do the following:
- Spray herbicide on the leaves and let it work its way down the plant.
- Sheer off the branches and spray the herbicide on the cut ends close to the base
There are several ways to get rid of pokeweed. The two main ways are by pulling up young plants by the base of the plant, making sure the root comes up with it. The second way is to dig down into the ground and pull the plant out by its taproot. With either option, it is important to use a soil screen and separate the roots and berries from the soil, and then place them in an area where they can dry out, die, and not take root again.
A couple of other ways to get rid of pokeweed include repeatedly cutting it down with sheers or a lawnmower or applying herbicide. When you use herbicide, you can apply it to the leaves or sheer off some of the plants first and apply the herbicide on the cut ends.
Whichever method you choose, be aware that it will likely take a combination of all of the above solutions to completely get rid of pokeweed.