I recently own a piece of land (800m²) which used to be full of grass. Lately the grass is being overgrown by nettles. Right now I'm at the point where almost all the grass is replaced by nettles.

My plan is to get back a grass field.

From the research I've done it seems that the soil is too rich and therefor the nettles will dominate over the grass. The grass on the field has been mown for years and left behind on the field. This is the reason why the soil is so rich I believe.

So in order to make the soil poor again I could keep op mowning the field and removing the grass/nettles. But I was wondering if there's also a faster way to get my soil poor?

I prefer not to plow the ground.

  • 1
    If you want a grass field, just mow it every few weeks. Whether you remove the clippings or not, nettles won't survive regular mowing. – Peter4075 Jul 1 '20 at 19:23
  • @Peter4075 It depends how fast they are growing. "Mowing every few weeks" might kill them eventually, but "eventually" might take several years, and if they get big enough produce any seed in between the mowings it won't work at all. – alephzero Jul 1 '20 at 22:15
  • Look into mob grazing livestock to promote diversity in the "cover crops". – black thumb Jul 2 '20 at 4:06

You won't get rid of nettles by making the soil poor. They will grow in the cracks between a brick wall and a concrete driveway!

Plowing won't kill them either. The only way to get rid of them is kill the underground rhizomes which survive the winter. Plowing or other cultivation will just chop up the rhizomes and propagate more nettles.

Use a selective weed killer in spring when the nettles first appear and are about 3 to 6 inches tall. Repeat when the leaves reappear. Note, I said "when" not "if" - they will regrow several times before you succeed in killing them.

  • Can I say that having rich soil is the cause of my problem, but going back to poor soil will not solve my problem? I which there was a more natural solution. – Ruts Jul 1 '20 at 18:44

If they're growing in grass, just keep mowing, at least once a week- this will prevent them seeding and they will eventually give up, otherwise, the only permanent solution is to dig them out by the roots or use weedkillers. Note that nettles do have some use in the garden - they are a food plant for certain butterfly larvae for instance, so a small patch of nettles is no bad thing - but a field full is obviously not desirable. Further information here (scroll down to the bottom for info on mowing) https://yardthyme.com/how-to-get-rid-of-nettles/

  • Intresting read on that website. Thanks. – Ruts Jul 2 '20 at 15:44

Coming from a dairy farming background as I do and used to dealing with issues such as this - if you want good grass growth, lush, strong and green, then you certainly do not want to do anything to impoverish the soil. The richer the soil the better the grass will like it.

To solve your issue the only choice is to spray using a Systemic broad leaf herbicide maybe two years in a row. Systemic is important as nettles replicate by rhizomes as well as seed and a systemic herbicide will be taken in by the plant and translocated into the rhizomes. The first application to kill current nettle growth and the second to kill the new growth from the nettle seed that will be lurking ready to germinate.

You may even have to do this for a third year to completely eradicate the nettles.

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