How to Get Rid of Bull Nettle

Bull nettle—also called “stinging nettle”—is a member of the Euphorbiaceae family. Course and prickly, this upright, invasive weed sports pale yellow flowers and berry-like fruit and causes an allergic reaction and severe, burning pain (courtesy of formic acid, histamine, serotonin and acetylcholine) when not properly handled. Found throughout much of the United States, it’s drought-tolerant and potentially hard to control. However, bull nettle can be successfully eradicated when appropriate measures are taken. A combination of cultivation and chemical-based methods often does the trick.

Things You'll Need

  • Jeans
  • Long-sleeved shirt
  • Heavy leather gloves
  • Bill hook
  • Spade
  • Rubber gloves
  • Glyphosate-based weed killer

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Instructions

Put on jeans, a long-sleeved shirt and heavy leather gloves to protect your skin from bull nettle.

Cut off the foliage and stems with a bill hook so they’re less likely to cause irritation to skin during the removal process.

Insert a spade into the main root of the bull nettle, taking care to dig deeply to the base of the root. Remove the bull nettle from the ground. Tug the accompanying thick, yellow, matted roots and remove them from the ground as well.

Pull any young growth, which tends to grow from broken roots, in the same manner two weeks later.

Mow residual nettle growth—closely and on a regular basis—with your lawnmower.

Put on rubber gloves and apply a glyphosate-based weed killer to the nettle’s foliage, green stems, cut stems or cut stumps if it continues to appear. Repeat this process every 30 to 45 days or until all of the bull nettle has been destroyed.

Tips & Warnings

  • You also can pour salt on nettles in an attempt to kill them.
  • The underground roots have stinging hairs. Glyphosate-based weed killers are nonselective, so they'll kill most anything in their path. Avoid using this type of weed killer if the weed is situated less than 30 feet from woody plants.

References

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