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How to remove thick ground cover?

Replace invasive ground cover plants, such as English ivy, with native plant species.

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Ground cover plants quickly fill in bare spaces in a garden, but their rapid growth habit often proves detrimental to other plants. When choosing a ground cover for your garden, always choose a native plant species so you don't introduce an invasive plant that will choke out other plants. Once established, total eradication of invasive ground covers requires patience and diligence because many ground cover species are resistant to chemical herbicides; the use of herbicides can also harm other desirable plants in your garden.

Cut the plants as close to the ground as possible with a pair of garden shears. Avoid using a lawn mower or weed trimmer because these types of equipment can throw seeds and plant rhizomes and introduce the invasive plant to other areas of your garden.

Gather the plant clippings immediately and incinerate them or discard them in a sealed garbage bag to prevent the plants from establishing elsewhere.

Dig up the roots of the plants with a garden hoe or fork. Pick the roots and remaining plant material from the soil and dispose of it immediately. Alternatively, you can use a rototiller to turn the soil, but be sure to pause frequently to pick up the roots so you don't further incorporate the invasive roots in the soil.

Turn the soil several more times and remove any remaining plant material. This process takes patience, but you must remove all pieces of these invasive plants to prevent them from returning.

Spray the soil with a preemergent herbicide, if desired, to prevent any seeds from germinating, which will reintroduce the invasive plant. Skip this step if you plan to replant the area because you could inadvertently prevent your flower seeds from germinating.

Pull up new ground cover plants immediately as you notice them; you must remove both the roots and the above-ground vegetation. Despite your best efforts to remove all plant material from the soil, some parts inevitably remain and can grow in the same garden space. With frequent pulling, you can eventually completely kill and remove all plants.

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