Giersch’s ability to develop rhizomes makes the plant a troublesome inhabitant in numerous ornamental gardens. Simply cutting out or plucking is not possible, since ground elder, also called tree dropper, horny goat weed, schettele, zaungiersch, goat’s foot and trefoil, reproduces through creeping roots, which can sprout again underground at any time. And even double-digit minus temperatures cannot harm the umbelliferae. The white, umbel-shaped inflorescences reach a height of approximately 1 meter and are an interesting sight for the uninvolved observer. With the right tips, you can put a stop to the rampant weed. But even if you want to cultivate Giersch yourself, it does not necessarily have to be part of the entire garden.

location and soil conditions

Girsch is a sure indicator of nitrogen-rich soil. The root weed prefers to grow in semi-shady to shady places. The plant with the enormous urge to spread can also be found in nature, such as on river banks and in forests. Nutrient-rich and deep substrate is preferred by the Aegopodium podagraria and once rooted, the complete removal of the medicinal herb, which is considered a weed, is difficult and time-consuming.

In the places where Giersch is particularly prevalent in the garden, you should only water a little. Permanently reduce soil moisture levels by adding large amounts of sand. The umbellifer has a high water requirement and if this is not sufficiently covered by the substrate, this weakens the plant considerably.

Control option weed fleece

A special fleece has proven itself to prevent goutweed from spreading excessively in ornamental beds. This also prevents other types of weed from growing excessively and uncontrollably. The weed fleece is available from specialist retailers, but you can also use a thicker, dark film. Get the amount you need and prepare the bed before laying it out:

  • Remove weeds completely.
  • Dig to a depth of about 20-30 centimetres.
  • Remove visible roots immediately.

You decide where and which plants come through. Cut holes in the fleece for your ornamental plants and cover these holes generously with bark mulch. But even with this method, you should regularly check the bed. Girsch is considered to be very vigorous and after a short time the umbellifer can sprout again in the open spots. Pluck out these shoots and increase the thickness of the bark mulch layer if necessary.

Potatoes as weed killers

Potato plants have proven themselves not only in the initial planting of compacted soil, but are also an effective measure in the fight against ground elder. When planting in spring, keep a distance of about 50 centimeters within the row. Due to the dense growth and the bushy sprouting of the potatoes, the Giersch is deprived of light and nutrients at the same time.

Alternatively, you can also use Jerusalem artichoke – sweet potatoes. These composite plants also reach an immense height within a few weeks and completely displace the goutweed. Just like potatoes, the slightly nutty-tasting tubers are edible, but require a thorough bed enclosure. Because the tubers of the Jerusalem artichoke tend to multiply explosively and can easily become an unwanted and difficult-to-control plague in your own garden.

digging up

Digging up the infested garden beds alone is not enough to permanently remove girsch. The complete removal of the underground roots is difficult and even a small residue left in the ground ensures that the weeds will sprout again.

However, if you do not want to replace the entire substrate, you can use a more complex method: dig up the soil to a depth of about 40 centimeters and loosen it sufficiently. Remove visible plant parts and roots now. Sieve the rest of the soil and return the substrate to its original place.


Combine various measures against the propagating umbelliferae. Regularly remove the inflorescences of the plant to prevent seed dispersal. However, it should be noted that pruning stimulates the goutweed to increase flowering.

In addition, you can further weaken the plant by eliminating all above-ground shoots. However, this step in particular is only effective in conjunction with other control methods.

Ground cover plants

Potatoes or Jerusalem artichokes are not welcome in every garden. Ground-covering plants, which permanently and effectively overgrow the goutweed, should be chosen with care. Many plants, such as lady’s mantle and periwinkle, quickly develop into an undesirable and rapidly proliferating weed factor in your own garden. The following plants are suitable for preventing the girsch from growing in the long term:

Elf flower:
A fascinating and robust plant species at the same time is hidden behind this delicate-sounding name. The robust perennials develop a bushy habit and efficiently help to displace goutweed and other types of weed. The fast-growing elven flowers need some time to root and are susceptible to frost in the first year of planting.

Golden strawberry:
This creeping ground cover, like goutweed, prefers humus-rich places in the light semi-shade. The carpet-like, spreading Waldsteinia has a growth of about 10 centimeters in height and is very robust against competition and extremely long-lived. 

This ground covering plant species is known to crowd out other plants easily. Comfrey is easy to cultivate and tolerates even very shady places without any problems. The slightly hairy, dark green plant can grow up to 30 centimeters tall.

Geranium macrorrhizum ‘Ginger’:
A fast-growing plant that can become a problem in its own right. Aromatically scented, the geranium quickly forms a dense carpet with rhizomes and reaches a height of up to 30 centimeters.

Carpet knotweed:
The plant, also known as snail knotweed, prefers rather dry soils, but is otherwise relatively undemanding and forms a bushy growth. Evergreen plant that not only efficiently repels ground elder but is also a striking sight. The growth height is up to 25 centimeters.

Fat man:
Also called shadow green, is an extremely robust and undemanding ground cover. Location and soil conditions play only a minor role. The growth rate is rather moderate compared to other ground-covering species. Nevertheless, its carpet-like spread counteracts the sprout of other, unwanted plants very well and effectively.

Vinca minor:
Densely growing ground cover, which delights the viewer with its delicate blue flowers in May. The robust plant, also known as small periwinkle, quickly displaces other plants and can sometimes become an unwanted garden dweller within a short time.

Make sure you regularly cut the ground cover and make sure that these plants really only spread in the intended location. In some species, a rhizome barrier has proven itself. Alternatively, you can also prepare the soil and sow the lawn. This measure against Giersch has also proven successful. Ensure that the green area is maintained regularly so that ground elder and other weeds don’t even get a chance.

Tip: Plant out ground-covering plants in late autumn so that the plants sprout quickly from the coming spring.


As a root weed, Aegopodium podagraria is extremely difficult to control. It is not always possible to dig up complete flower beds and borders or even to replace several centimeters of substrate. Fleeces have proven themselves, but the floor-covering mats often attract large flocks of voles, which multiply happily underneath. If none of the above measures work for you or you have already tried them without success, there is another way out: herbicides. Some products available on the market will help you effectively in controlling ground elder and other types of weeds. Use the product strictly according to the package leaflet so as not to cause consequential damage to other plants. The use of chemical agents in the vegetable garden is strongly discouraged.

Girsch controls cultivation

The umbelliferae, often referred to as trefoils, are not only conspicuous because of their irrepressible urge to reproduce. The persistent plant was valued for its healing powers in the past and was often used in the kitchen as a wild vegetable. Instead of tackling ground elder in your own garden with a weed fleece or other measures, you can also harvest young shoots and leaves of the useful plant. Whether as a salad, spinach or tasty soup, the umbellifer is versatile and also has a diuretic and detoxifying effect. However, each cut encourages the plant to grow bushy and produce more leaves and shoots. This step is therefore rather counterproductive if other plants are overgrown by goutweed.

However, you can use ground elder without having to sacrifice your own garden: Cultivate the useful umbelliferae, which have been known since the Stone Age, in a bucket. Use a sufficiently large planter and fill it up with loamy, humus-rich potting soil. It is sown in early spring, root pieces can be used in the tub all year round. Choose a bright place in the semi-shade, away from other plants and keep the substrate moderately moist. The regular supply of a nitrogen-rich liquid fertilizer is gratefully accepted by the umbelliferae. With this type of planting, you can also grow and use girsch on a small balcony.

Note: Prevent the plant from forming seeds so that the umbelliferae cannot multiply uncontrollably in the immediate vicinity.

Growing the crop in a greed-free garden is a double-edged sword. The underground root runners can only be stopped with a rhizome barrier. Check regularly that the roots have not penetrated the barrier, as is particularly common with foil root barriers. Barriers made of plastic, bamboo or stone have proven their worth in curbing growth.

The versatility of the goutweed has been forgotten for a long time. Growing wild in your own garden, it is little more than a stubborn and extremely robust root weed. Effective measures against the umbelliferae must therefore be carried out consistently in order to permanently weaken the plant and prevent new shoots.

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