The bindweed, also called devil’s intestine, windling or field bindweed, is a perennial, twining and herbaceous plant that belongs to the bindweed family. Despite its pretty pink or bluish funnel-shaped flowers, it is one of the most feared weeds in the garden as well as in vineyards and in the fields. The biggest problem is the spreading root system, which constantly sprouts new shoots, so that, for example, only superficial removal usually makes no sense. There are several ways to control it, but only a few are really promising.

Likelihood of confusion

The bindweed is easily confused with the real bindweed. The bindweed differs from this, however, in the size of its flowers, which are only about half the size of those of the bindweed and in the color of the flowers. While bindweed blooms are bluish or pale pink, bindweed blooms are completely brilliant white. The leaves of the bindweed are elongated, while those of the bindweed are more rounded.

Control by digging

Digging up bindweed is one of the most effective methods of combating it. This is best done on sunny and slightly windy days, as the dug up roots dry up relatively quickly in the air. However, you should be particularly careful when doing this, because every root residue that remains in the soil can develop new plants and the problem is the same again.

To dig out you need a digging fork, a weed picker and a fine-meshed sieve. The use of a spade is not recommended. First, you remove the plants with a high-quality weed cutter. You should try to pull as much of the roots as possible out of the immediate vicinity of the plant with a lot of sensitivity.

Then you dig the ground up to three depths of a spade with a digging fork. You should thoroughly remove every part of the root, no matter how small, and best collect it in a bucket or something similar. Now the pass-through sieve is used. Above all, this should be fine-meshed. The excavated material is then sifted piece by piece and possible root residues are removed immediately. If necessary repeat the whole thing again.

Then the sieved soil can be spread out again. Under no circumstances should the removed root residues be disposed of on the compost, but in the organic waste bin or household waste. If possible, they can be burned.

However, digging has one major drawback, especially when using a spade. When digging up with a spade, the bindweed’s roots can be pricked or chopped up in such a way that this tends to contribute to the spread of this plant.

Remove all root remains

  • It is almost impossible to completely remove the bindweed.
  • This plant forms very fine thread roots.
  • These can spread very quickly both in width and in depth.
  • It is particularly important to remove all root remains.
  • Only then can one almost get rid of the bindweed.
  • As a rule, however, it is hardly possible to remove even the last remnants of roots from the soil.
  • Therefore, the bindweed can usually only be kept in check but not permanently removed.

Fight bindweed in the lawn

Just like in a beautiful flower or herbaceous bed, the bindweed is always a major nuisance even for a lovingly tended lawn. The problem here is that you cannot dig it up without ruining the entire lawn or at least leaving a lot of bare spots. so digging is out of the question.

To remove these weeds from the lawn, all that remains is to carefully pull them out with a weed cutter. However, the entire roots cannot be removed from the soil in this way, but you can at least try to weaken their growth. This can be done by regularly trimming them above the surface of the earth, and since lawns should be mowed regularly anyway, the bindweed will be cut off every time anyway.

With foil against bindweed

Another method, which, by the way, also helps against many other root weeds, is to cover large areas with black foil. However, this method is only suitable for areas that you can do without for a long time, because the covering extends over a period of one to three years.

The area in question is first dug up and cleared of all weeds and, above all, roots as well as possible. Then the area in question is covered over a large area with black film and, if necessary, with bark mulch.

This form of control can be very effective in some cases, but the seeds of the bindweed, which may still be in the ground, can remain viable for several years and thus ensure that the bindweed grows again. But the fight against the bindweed is not a matter of a few weeks or months anyway, but of several years.

Create a new bed

Creating a bed from scratch is probably the most effective way to control bindweed. To do this, the old soil that has grown through with bindweed and other weeds must first be completely removed and replaced with fresh mother earth

Fresh mother earth does not automatically mean that it does not contain bindweed seeds. As soon as bindweed can be seen again, it should be removed immediately by hand or with a knife. However, you can initially cover the fresh mother earth with a dense black film, but this for at least one complete gardening season, so that the area in question cannot be used for cultivation at first. On the other hand, provided that it is done correctly, this method is very effective.

You can also cover a newly created bed with weed fleece and cut crosses in the fleece to insert the plants in the appropriate places, in which you then insert the plants. In addition, you can then cover the whole thing with a layer of mulch. This suppresses or at least inhibits the growth of weeds of all kinds.

Use of chemical agents

In some areas, control by digging is not always possible, because the bindweed also likes to look for locations between other crops. In these cases, a specially approved herbicide can be used to dab the leaves and shoots of the plant before flowering so that the plant absorbs the toxins. In order to minimize the leaf mass for this, it is advisable to cut the bindweed back to about 30 cm beforehand.

To prevent any of the chemicals from getting onto the ground, you can take a larger piece of cardboard, cut a hole in the middle, and pull the plant through this hole so that the cardboard rests on the ground.

However, it is important to treat as much leaf mass as possible with an appropriate agent, because the more the plant ingests, the more effective it is. The problem here, however, is that, on the one hand, these agents have to be approved for the home garden and that you really only dab the parts of the plant with them and not spray them.

If the remedy gets to other plants, which cannot always be avoided, since the bindweed winds around other plants, in the worst case they would also perish. Such chemical agents do not promise a hundred percent success either, because the bindweed is a very good survivor and this form of control is very complex. In addition, it can happen that the bindweed at some point also develops resistance to these agents, so that they no longer have any effect.

The use of herbicides is prohibited in some federal states. Some of these funds require special approval. Accordingly, one should always inquire about the current legal situation in the relevant federal state. The chemical club is always inadvisable anyway, because it can not only affect other plants, but also damage or even kill numerous soil organisms. The same applies to total weed killers, because these also make no distinction between weeds and cultivated plants.

Prevention of re-spread

  • The removal of the bindweed is very tedious and you should definitely stick with it.
  • This is important to prevent it from spreading again.
  • At least this can keep the spread as low as possible.
  • As a preventive measure, it is important to properly dispose of the removed root remains.
  • This can be in the organic waste bin or in the household rubbish.
  • The compost heap is completely unsuitable for disposal.
  • Furthermore, every new offshoot should always be pulled out as quickly as possible.
  • This weakens the bindweed and consequently inhibits its spread.

What makes the bindweed so persistent

What makes the bindweed so stubborn and unpopular is its strong urge to spread and the fact that it sprouts again and again from even the smallest remnant of roots, which makes it so difficult and sometimes impossible to control.

The roots and shoots of this plant extend up to 2 m deep into the earth. It multiplies through root shoots and runners. By working the soil, parts of the roots are crushed and new plants can develop from this over and over again.

The bindweed grows crawling and wraps around or winds around other plants at impressive speed, which weakens or damages them and, in the worst case, suffocates them. It is also a serious competitor for light and nutrients for other plants.

The successful control of the bindweed is always a lengthy affair and usually only brings the desired success through long-term control over several years. Even if it looks like the problem has been solved, you should always stay tuned and remove newly emerging windrows immediately; this can at least prevent it from spreading too much. The only thing that really promises success is usually only the complete removal of all root residues, which is usually hardly possible. If all control measures have been unsuccessful and these stubborn weeds keep coming back, one should perhaps try to come to terms with this unloved troublemaker and limit oneself to being able to contain the spread of the bindweed.

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