Here in the UK we have been having a little bit of a growing problem with Galium aparine, otherwise known as Cleavers.
The plant in itself isn’t a problem. It is a native British plant with many medicinal properties that are well documented. Its when it is allowed to run rampant and clog up other plants. The plant is a proliferate climber that will use anything to grow higher and get into the sunlight, be that fences, trees or other plants. It will grow over and through other plants and make it a pain to clear.
The other problem with this plant is that clearing out when it has become established can be a royal pain, literally. many people are allergic to the chemicals in the plant, myself included here! Its best to keep the plant from getting established rather than trying to fight it later on.
This is how it looks in its seedling stage.
My neighbour is a royal pain because its already established in her garden and keeps growing through our fence and making my life a misery. I pull it and cut it if ever it grows through the fence but I still keep finding new growth every few weeks. What a pain! It wouldn’t be so bad if she were at least TRYING to control it. but she doesn’t care much for her garden, its just somewhere for her kids and her dog to run around in.
This is also a problem in my working life. We come across it all the time in the parks and open spaces we take care of. Pulling it out is a full time job it seems and with us having less and less time to do these side jobs it gets to the point that during the high summer we have to take a springbok rake to it and just try and pull out the whole lot in one or two sweeps. Easier said than done let me tell you!
Our other big problem is Convolvulus, otherwise known as bindweed.
Another rampant plant that grows over and through other plants. This one, while not as rampant as Cleavers has a stronger stem and a bit more difficult to get out when established.
The problem with both of these pests is when they grow over other plants you cannot use a weedkiller to control them without damaging the plant underneath, so a mechanical method is needed and even then you run the risk of damaging the plant, or its roots, when removing the offending problem.
I know that dealing with the problem early is always the best answer, and one I practice at home., its just not possible at work. Time constraints and a lack of consideration from the management, until the complaints come in that is!
If you do find them in your garden it really does work to just pull them out and start a war of attrition if they are established. You WILL win if you keep at it!