We just bought a new house, with a somewhat overgrown front garden. Mostly I need to do some pruning and shaping.

They planted some ground cover, including ivy. Strangely, while the ground cover seems well established, there's still a lot of tall grass.

competing ground cover

I'm curious about the best way to get rid of the remaining grass.

Can I just wait for the ground cover to strangle the remaining grass?

Do I need a very thorough weeding?

1 Answer 1


You need a very thorough weeding because unfortunately, your ground cover plants will not out compete the grass, more the other way around, except for the ivy, which in itself is difficult to control. If you find its impossible to extract the grass roots without damaging roots of plants you want to keep, its probably best to wait till Fall (whenever that is where you are), then dig up the plants as well, extract all the grass roots, keep the plants covered or sit them in containers with the roots in water at the bottom temporarily, dig the area over to remove any remaining grass and replant the plants. Water in well. Best completed in a day if possible.

If that sounds like too much work, then you can always try spraying the grass with a weedkiller like glyphosate, but you'd need to protect the other plants around it from the spray or it will kill those too. Some weedkillers that work on grass might be available in a paint on form - I've never found them very effective, but maybe you have a bigger range of this type of weedkiller where you are than we do here in the UK.

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    Bamboo is right. Hope that you see it would be far easier and more effective to completely scrape off all of the plant material, build up the plant bed with top soil to smother any vigorous plants and stop germination of seeds of which there will be plenty. You could pot some of these plants (use potting soil!). A ground cover should be ONE species to make a respectable, uniform mass. If there is a lawn, make a trench to divide plant bed and lawn. Mulch to smother weeds. Vigilant weeding is easier and more effective when weeds are babies. NO plastic or weed fabric! Send more pictures!
    – stormy
    Sep 8, 2016 at 20:05
  • @stormy - This is what I inherited when we bought the house. The backyard is great, but I've got my hands full here in the front. There's too much ivy around to completely eliminate it, but I agree with vigorous weeding, removing the other varieties and smothering with mulch. I had just a small (vain) hope that I could avoid weeding all the grass. Sep 9, 2016 at 14:42
  • I am the laziest gardener in the world. No way would I try weeding this! You'd be doing it forever and it would never do any justice to your landscape. Send a larger picture of what you've got going. Most of the time thinking one just needs to use 'elbow grease' is NOT the best thing to do for a landscape. Just sayin'!!
    – stormy
    Sep 10, 2016 at 21:06
  • @stormy for real? I've done it loads of times over the years in different gardens, but while I was at this particular one, I'd get shot of the ivy too... start with a clean slate,then put the plants worth keeping back in plus some new, extra ones probably..it's the last time it'll need such drastic disturbance (well, if I did it myself...)! what would you do instead then?
    – Bamboo
    Sep 10, 2016 at 22:06
  • Absolutely, I am with you! All that work pulling weeds when everything is kiddywampus, too many this and that! One time is all I'd want to do that kind of work to REDO. Pulling weeds is a given, a constant given. I have reached the wonderful point where I LOOK for weeds to pull as whatever I do creating a plant bed retards the weeds before they ever become a problem. No worry, for real, we are on the same dang page!!
    – stormy
    Sep 10, 2016 at 22:45

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