How to Get Rid of a Pachysandra

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Pachysandra in underplanting setting
Pachysandra in underplanting setting (Image: Jil M. Swearingen, USDI National Park Service, Bugwood.org)

Pachysandra is a popular and ubiquitous evergreen shrub ground cover. Removing Pachysandra mass plantings requires complete eradication of the plant tops, roots, underground runners or stolons and the daughter plants that may be just below the surface or around the perimeter of the mature plants. Patience and a couple of household garden tools will get the job done. The goal is to pull the plants out by the root wherever possible, lifting out the root systems and stolons and then raking them up and discarding. Work methodically and gently to refrain from chopping up too much of the plant material into the soil, which will only make it more difficult to retrieve and hence slow down the eradication process. This is a straightforward job but does require some finesse and patience. Complete removal of Pachysandra may require a period of removal maintenance but can easily be accomplished by a do-it-yourselfer.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Hand trowel
  • Rake
  • Trash bags
  • Garden gloves

Don your garden gloves and begin with grasping the main root stem at its base and pulling gently but firmly straight up. This should pull the plant and it main root system up in one piece.

Loosen the root system's grip in the soil by watering if soil is dry and make vertical cuts around the Pachysandra plants with your shovel and then use the shovel as a lever to lift up the root ball. These two tactics should make it easier to pull the plants out by the roots.

Dig in with a shovel or hand trowel when a plant top breaks loose from its roots to dig up the roots and connected stolons and discard.

Rake through the soil gently when all of the plant and main root material has been removed. Lift out runners, stolens, root pieces and any remaining plant foliage as you work.

Monitor the area closely for several months, pulling out shoots and plants by the roots as they emerge. Full eradication of a previous carpet-like planting of Pachysandra may take many months but will require just minimal maintenance.

Tips & Warnings

  • Work in an orderly grid-like system over the area of Pachysandra to be removed. Completely remove one main plant and roots at a time so you do not overlook any.

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