Is there an easier way to get rid of this menace other than just a battle of digging it out? I can't use a general weedkiller as it is winding its way round too many plants.
I am not sure you will ever win by digging it out. Unless you are a very young man or woman!
Not really - sorry - methodically digging it out really is the only way to go if you can't spray. Don't let it flower and seed. If it's spreading in from another property sink a solid barrier along the boundary to help prevent it's spread. Dig as much as you can out and when the bits you have left reshoot (and there will be some) then bruise the leaves and paint glyphosate on the leaves and leave it for several weeks to be drawn back into the roots - when it is withered and brown dig it out. It will get less and less but it will take several years.
Or you can gather the young leaves and cook some delicious recipes with them http://brightonforager.wordpress.com/2011/04/23/spring-greens-edible-weeds/ but do that before you spray them.
Thank you. I am in my late sixties but still enjoy getting stuck in to the garden with a digging fork !! It is rewarding if the ground is damp and you can pull at the roots bu it just keeps coming back !! Will try painting the leaves when I have removed the bulk of it. Any more ideas gratefully received.
There may be some ideas here for you. I have the same problem! And as far as digging in the garden, there are some very much more mature yet fit and able gardeners out there!
Just got out another couple of bucket loads !!!!!
Well done - have a piece of cake as a reward
If you ever get stiff and sore from digging out ground elder, there is one thing to consider - it was called Bishops Wort because it helped with the pain of gout, which only Bishops got because only they could eat well enough to get it!! Seriously, you can make a tea with the young leaves, steep a cup full in a larger cupful of boiling water, sweeten with a little Honey and it does help the aches and pains. It also makes you feel a sense of 'see, you're not winning it all!". It tasted a bit like cabbage water, not totally disgusting, is harmles (unless you are allergic to cabbage and its family), and truly is useful.
One other bit of advice, never, ever let it flower, also you'll never get rid of it all, taller other plants can and will grow around it, there are worse things to have in the garden, and it does disappear in winter!!
Does anyone know of a ground cover plant that can outcompete ground elder, but not go mad itself ????
No - sorry
The very nature of a stron ground cover means that it will be invasive, you can't expect a plant just to stop where you would like it to, when its nature is to spread all over!! I'd still rather have ground elder than mares tail or docks!! If it gets into the laawn (not hapened here yet, but I know it has to quite a few folk) it responds well to mowing. Nothing, not even ground elder, likes having its head cut off on a regular basis.