I have a hill behind my new home that is planted with english ivy and myrtle; unfortunately it was allowed to go "wild" and is now full of weeds. Do I have to start all over or is there a way to save the groundcover?
I wish there was an easy answer for you, but I'm afraid there isn't. I guess some of it depends on how big the area is - probably the safest way is to start pulling!
But I think this is what I would try to do. I would start with a small area first to be sure it works before you do the whole area. I would start by weed wacking it down to 3 or 4 inches. Cut the bottom off a pop bottle (12 or 16 oz), put the pop bottle over the base of any large perennial weeds and spray roundup in the bottle, the bottle will stop overspray from getting the ivy and myrtle. I'm not sure I would bother spraying any annual weeds as they won't be back next year anyway. You may have to pull back any ivy or myrtle that is grown in with the weed. Cover the whole area with 3" of mulch, I would think the ivy and myrtle would be able to grow through it but I don't know for sure. The mulch should help kill off any of the smaller seedlings. It will also help prevent more seedlings from sprouting the next year. The weed wacking will also encourage the ivy and myrtle to grow back fuller and help choke out weeds.
As I said, I would try a small area first and see how that goes. It may be too late in the year for the ivy and myrtle to grow through the mulch, you might want to wait until next spring. Also, the weed has to be actively growing for the roundup to work. But covering with mulch now will help cut down on annual weeds next year.
I wish you the best of luck - I hope someone else has a better idea!
The pop bottle idea is great! I didn't think I 'd be able to spray without killing the ground cover. I'll give it a try and let you know how it work.
Thanks for the help.
I did the pulling thing, took me two seasons to denude the entire hillside, but it was worth it. When I had hand-pulled all of the weeds, I saw what the actual shape of the slope was (at least 45 degrees or more in some places), and where the solid rock of the mountain jutted out, and where there were pockets of dirt/soil/forest duff that had accumulated, and discovered a few surprises (wild bay laurel, wild cyclamen, etc.) I'll have to figure out how to upload pics of what I have done since then (terracing with found rocks). I haven't put round up on the weeds/vines from Hell that are everywhere, but that's coming. The leaves from the neglected trees on the slope have been creating a mat of leaves for at least a decade, which I leave as mulch to keep whatever soil/forest duff there is in place during our heavy winter rains, and in spring I clear another little bit for terracing and planting. The real problem as I see it is erosion: if you take out all your ground cover before winter, you'll lose all your soil down the slope. Hand weeding seems to be the only way to do it, the advantage is you get to know that hillside up close and personal!
I would recommend you use Preen too. It will inhibit weed seeds from sprouting. If you are going to hand pull them you may as well stop the new ones from sprouting!!!
I wish I read this last year! I am clearing a slope that was originally planted with myrtle and creeping juniper. It was left alone for years and now has nightshade, wineberry, poison ivy, weed grasses, bedstraw, garlic mustard, trees of heaven, plenty of others. I've been pulling weeds and spraying roundup brush killer. I have to admit I wasn't too discerning when I sprayed the roundup. I was more interested in getting rid of the poison ivy and wineberries. The junipers are a little sad looking anyway, and I can always replant the myrtle.
I just wish now I had read the tip about the soda bottle!