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Nettles, while useful plants, are not very welcome in the garden. They spread through underground spurs to all accessible and inaccessible places and crowd out other plants there. Also, stinging nettles are difficult to get rid of. The completely green plants do not have any particular ornamental value either. Nettles can be controlled with chemicals, but not every gardener likes to do this. Instead, people prefer to use options that are natural.
Identifying the common nettle (Urtica dioica and Urtica urens) is easy. The plants grow upright, the stems and leaves have countless stinging hairs and should not be touched without thick gloves. The plants can grow between 50 and 100 cm. Individual specimens grow even taller. The stinging nettle is a typical indicator plant for nitrogenous soils. This means that where the nettle grows well, the soil is very nutrient-rich and well suited for planting vegetables, for example. Stinging nettles propagate mainly via root runners, the network can assume very large dimensions and be richly branched. It then becomes difficult to get rid of the weed easily.
If you want to remove nettle plants naturally, then you should definitely consider a sustainable measure. Simply uprooting the plant will ensure that it is gone for the moment, but the roots will soon sprout again. Fighting this way can go on forever.
Some people are insensitive to them stinging hairs, but most prefer to have as little contact with it as possible. Although it cannot be seen on the plant, the stinging hairs are very strong and can penetrate light gardening gloves and clothing. It is therefore important, especially with larger nettles, to wear long, sturdy clothing and rubber gloves. When the roots are exposed, the plants can also be pulled out of the ground by them, they have no stinging hairs.
When it comes to fighting individual plants, for example in beds or in the lawn, the easiest way is to remove them with a weed puller. The roots do not grow very deep, as with dandelion, but with many smaller runners, all of which also have to be removed. The nettles are removed as soon as they become visible in spring.
tip: If you don't have gardening gloves at hand, you can proceed as follows: Kick the nettle aside with your foot so that the root area is exposed. Loosen the roots with a three-pronged hand garden hoe and then carefully pull the plant out of the ground.
Planting new beds
If you want to create new bed areas in the garden, they should be as free of weeds as possible. Especially from annoying weeds like the stinging nettle. There are two ways to fight nettles sustainably before planting new beds.
- digging up
For mulching, the entire area is mown as low as possible. You can leave the cuttings on the field or compost them. Then you should lay black mulch film directly on the ground. Make sure you really cover the entire area. You can also mulch with natural garden material as long as you apply it thickly to the soil. The mulch material must remain on the surface until the last plant under the mulch layer has died. Then you can clean the area from the roots with a rake or a rake.
Digging up the area is more complex and sweaty. All existing weeds, including nettles, can be removed with the roots. Careful work is worthwhile as it minimizes weed growth. You can use a spade or a digging fork for digging. The digging fork is more suitable for the Urtica because it does not cut the roots. They can be pulled out of the ground when loosened. Digging works best on a cloudy day when the soil is moist but not wet.
In garden areas that are not intended to be used as beds, it is easier to destroy the nettles by mowing frequently. To do this, always mow the nettles when they have grown a few centimetres. After some time, the plants lose their strength and die. However, you need a lot of patience and time for this measure. In addition, the clippings should not remain on the surface, as it would supply the nettle roots with new nutrients. It makes more sense to use the area to lose weight, and so to displace the stinging nettle by other plants.
Since nettles also have good sides, it can be worth just containing them in some places in the garden and not destroying them completely. Urtica dioica and Urtica urens serve as food for many caterpillars, they can also be prepared as a salad or vegetable and a manure made from nettles strengthens and fertilizes the garden plants.
It is important to mow the nettles regularly, even where they are allowed to grow, so that they do not seed and to dig a root barrier around the area so that they do not spread via runners.
Get rid of nettles for good
Nettles are very resilient, simply tossing them in the compost after mowing or digging up can cause them to spread further from there.
Ways to prevent this:
- Dry nettle plants with their roots in the sun
- Start manure with it
- into the garden area where they are allowed to grow undisturbed
- Dispose of in organic waste, household waste or a public composting facility