The last thing you want to discover growing in your lawn is the kudzu vine. This weed can cover your garage or house in a camouflage of weedy vines in no time at all. If you discover this vine growing on your property, then you want to know how to get rid of kudzu before it takes over your yard.
Kudzu grows predominantly in the southern United States, thriving in the USDA hardiness zones five through ten. It is both invasive and aggressive in growth, but that wasn’t the intention when it was brought into the United States from Japan in the 1930s. It was meant as a means of erosion control and as a forage crop.
However, it wasn’t long before the vine took over. The kudzu vine grows nearly a foot per day, can exceed one hundred feet in length, and is not picky about the soil or conditions it grows in. What does that mean for southern homeowners? A lot of persistence and hard work.
Getting Rid of Kudzu
While the invasive kudzu vine may seem like an intimidating weed to control, it is not impossible. We have several methods for eradicating and controlling kudzu before it gets out of hand.
Homemade Kudzu Killer
If you prefer staying away from commercial herbicides such as Roundup that may contain clopyralid or other harmful chemicals, you can make a homemade kudzu killer using simple household ingredients.
Pull or cut the vines off any structures, fences, and trees before applying the herbicide. Ideally, you should spray the vines during the hottest part of the day.
Pour the vinegar into a bucket, add the salt, and a couple of squirts of liquid dish soap. Stir the ingredients to dissolve the salt. Pour the natural herbicide into a garden sprayer and spray the solution directly onto the kudzu vines, making sure that you saturate the leaves, stems, seed pods, and any other plant material.
The soap helps the liquid stick to the plant while the vinegar and salt cause the plant to dehydrate and burn. Repeat weekly until the vine is dead.
How to Kill Kudzu Vines by Smothering
Withholding the sunshine, water, nutrients, and oxygen that a plant needs to survive eventually causes it to wither away and die. Here is how to kill kudzu vines by smothering them.
Use the garden shears or clippers to cut the vines to the ground and then finish up by mowing the weeds using the lowest setting on your mower. Place large plastic tarps over the top of the weedy area, making sure to overlap each tarp so that no sunshine can make it to the ground.
Place weights such as rocks or bricks along the edges of the tarps to keep them in place. It is also beneficial to place large pieces of plywood over the top of the tarps to add to further smothering of the weeds.
Trample on the tarps with your feet if the weeds try to grow beneath the plastic. Leave the tarps in place until the kudzu has ceased growing. After the kudzu is dead, pull up the plant material and place it into plastic bags and discard of it properly.
Digging up Kudzu Vines
One of the most efficient ways to get rid of invasive vines is to remove the plant in its entirety, from vine to root. While this takes a lot of hard work and muscle, it is well worth the effort.
The critical thing to remember when digging up kudzu root is that you must remove the root crowns. Begin by following the vine down to where it enters into the ground. Use a shovel or pickaxe to dig the area until you see new bud growth.
This part is the root crown and is what you will remove. Use the shovel to dig down just below the crown and cut or dig it out. Make sure that you remove all of the crowns, or the vine may resprout. Discard the weed parts, including the tap root and smaller crowns, into a plastic bag and take to the dump.
Using an Herbicide Treatment to Eliminate Kudzu
There are a few things to check for when choosing an herbicide to get rid of kudzu. A brush killer or systemic herbicides work, but they must contain active ingredients such as triclopyr or glyphosate. Many of these herbicides are also ideal for killing poison ivy, crabgrass, dandelions, and other lawn weeds.
Read the instructions that come with your herbicide. Some of these weed treatments require that you dilute the chemicals with water.
Spray the herbicide onto kudzu in spring when it is most vulnerable after winter dormancy. Apply a second dose of herbicide in late summer. This process is ongoing, so repeat yearly until the kudzu plant dies.
Control Kudzu by Mowing
Mowing is an effective form of kudzu control but is also a time consuming one. You must perform continual mowing of the infested area for months, if not years, for this technique to work.
Use clippers to cut the vines down to ground level and dispose of all kudzu plant parts into a plastic bag. The weed will grow back from any of the clippings, so you must dispose of them at the local dump.
Use a lawnmower set at the lowest setting to mow the weed down as far to the ground as possible. Repeat mowing in this manner weekly. The cut stump and vines will eventually die away due to exhaustion.
Keep Kudzu Under Control by Overgrazing
It may seem odd, but one way many farmers control kudzu is by letting animals graze off the weeds. If your area permits small farm animals, this may be the key to eliminating this invasive perennial vine.
If you are a farmer, then you are already set. Allow your goats or cattle access to the kudzu and let them have at it. If you do not own a farm, you can consider getting a family goat.
If your area allows this, goats have a never-ending appetite and will do away with those weeds in no time. Livestock that continually grazes on the kudzu will wear it down and exhaust the weed until it gives up. Just make sure that you keep the grazers away from your flower gardens!
While it was never intended to create kudzu infestations when brought to the United States, it’s an issue that needs to be handled and controlled. Leaving the kudzu plant on its own destroys native plants, and structures can become overgrown.
Stop invasive plants by using store-brand or homemade herbicides, mowing them back regularly, or removing the entire plant from vine to root.
Now that you have learned how to get rid of kudzu through control and eradication, why not share our kudzu vine killing tips with your family and friends on Pinterest and Facebook?