Carpet Bugle, or Bugleweed as it’s commonly called, is a hardy evergreen perennial. It is planted because it fills spaces nicely and has a beautiful color. However, its aggressive spread eventually leads many homeowners to wonder how to fully eradicate this plant from their yards.
There are two main methods to eradicate Carpet Bugle plants from your lawn effectively. It can be eliminated either chemically or manually. Each technique has clear upsides and downsides, and the one best for you depends on several factors.
I’ll share detailed knowledge of the chemical and manual methods for eliminating Carpet Bugle from your lawn. You’ll also read the considerations of each technique and the upsides and downsides to them. Finally, I’ll share tips to ensure your eradication efforts succeed.
Can I Eradicate Carpet Bugle Without Killing Other Plants?
One of the main concerns homeowners have with attempting to eradicate an aggressive spreader in their yard is whether the action to remove it will result in other plant loss as well. The answer is yes, but this can be avoided if you act to remove Bugleweed in a cautious, targeted manner.
Carpet Bugle, also called Ajuga and Carpetweed, is a member of the mint family. It spreads underground through its root system, making it more difficult to control than a plant that spreads via seed drop.
As previously mentioned, two primary methods exist to remove Carpet Bugle plants from your lawn. One is chemical, and the other is manual. Consider the following upsides and downsides to each removal method before you decide and proceed.
Chemical Eradication of Carpet Bugle Plants
Chemical eradication of Bugleweed is often the only way people think to eradicate plants from their yards. This involves choosing a chemical to apply to the plant to kill it down to the roots.
Consider a few things about this approach. First, do you have the means to apply the chemical to only the Bugleweed to ensure it does not kill other plants in your landscape? Often, it is challenging to choose a chemical that is strong enough to kill the plant itself and work its way down to kill off the entire root structure.
Chemicals that will kill the plants and the roots aren’t selective herbicides. Another way to say this is that they will kill every plant they come into contact with, intentionally and unintentionally.
If you don’t mind potentially killing other plants, spray away. But if your intent is to kill only the Carpet Bugle and you’re set on using chemical methods, choose your application method carefully to keep the herbicide contained and watch the weather to be sure rain won’t spread the chemicals to other plants.
For pet owners, the chemical option is often not even an option. Strong chemicals that will kill the plant and the root are strong enough to sicken or kill pets and small animals.
Herbicides also adversely impact pollinator species, making them a less attractive option for many homeowners.
Lastly, consider where the chemicals will go after you have sprayed. You may live in an area where you don’t want herbicide washing down into a downstream water source. There are also areas that ask homeowners to limit their use of herbicides due to impacts on the water supply.
These are all considerations when thinking about eradicating Carpet Bugle via chemical methods. There are “natural” remedies you can find, but these often will only kill the plant above ground but leave the hardy root system below intact.
Many homeowners have been tricked into thinking that their aggressive spreaders are gone and planting new species in the planting area, only to see the bold spreader pop back up in the spring and overtake their new plantings.
This is not a pleasant surprise, mainly when you have spent money on new plants that have now been overtaken.
Manual Eradication of Carpet Bugle Plants
The other method to remove Bugleweed is manually or mechanically. This relies solely on the physical removal of the plant rather than anything chemical to kill the plant.
It is the safer method for pets, humans, pollinators, and other neighborhood critters. Many people immediately assume that manual plant species removal takes longer than chemical eradication. That can be the case, but it isn’t always so.
The key to manual eradication of Carpet Bugles is to get out and start pulling plants out of the ground as soon as you see them grow blooms and stick with them during your growing season. There are a few ways to approach this task.
You can pull the Carpet Bugle plants out just like you do any weed or dig them up. With either approach, you must remove all the roots when removing the plant. Since Bugleweed spreads via an aggressive root system, any small piece of root left in the ground will grow into a new plant in no time.
To ensure effective and complete removal of the Carpet Bugle plants and roots, it’s crucial to ensure you saturate the ground in the area before you begin removal. If you haven’t had rain recently, you can set up a sprinkler in the place where you will be manually removing plants and giving them a light, deep soaking.
Setting your sprinkler on a low water setting but allowing it to run for an hour will mimic the steady, deep rain that provides water to perk down to the very base of the plant’s root system. This will allow you to pull the entire plant and roots out without breaking off the ground.
Hand-weeding Carpet Bugle doesn’t necessarily mean weeding only by hand. Several great gardening tools make weeding a breeze. My favorite weeder is the Fiskars Ergo Scratch Tool Garden Weeder (link to Amazon). It has been most effective for me because of the device’s design to grip the weed and the way you leverage downward force to remove the entire plant and root system.
You don’t have to pull or dig all the plants daily. You’ll get all the plants out of the ground with a bit of consistent work. You can even put the manually removed plants in a pail and give them to an interested neighbor to plant in their yard.
With a thoughtful approach to your method of removal, it is possible to eradicate Carpet Bugle plants from your landscape entirely. It is also possible to do so in a manner that isn’t harmful to other plants, pets, people, or wildlife.
As with any outdoor project, the key is to choose an approach that makes the most sense for your situation. Work that approach in a regular, consistent manner, re-treating areas as needed, and you’ll see the desired results in no time.