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Stinging Nettles – taking up the fight

Since moving to the UK, I’ve become accustomed to stinging nettles. They grow very vigorously, as a weed, and have runner roots just under the surface which spread out everywhere and result in new nettles. They’re hard to get rid of and their leaves really do create an unpleasant sting. 

One thing I’ve found is that they love ground that has been dug up. In general, if grass is well in control, stinging nettles don’t have a chance. Once the ground is disturbed, stinging nettles can grow quite tall very quickly and dominate the grass, but if the grass is already there, stinging nettles can’t compete.

My Stinging Nettle Problem

When we had our pottery studio built including new steps down to the studio, there was a lot of ground disturbed and then relocated. This was just perfect for the stinging nettles and they took over. Since I hadn’t experienced them before, I wasn’t sure what to do. I tried pulling them out by hand, using a garden fork and some good leather gloves, and I found they were easy to remove because the roots are generally shallow. They don’t like being pulled out and it takes them quite a while for them to start returning, but they do return and, in summer, they grow very vigorously. At one point I was confronted with stinging nettles between 4 and 5 feet tall. Read more