Ask a Horticulturist: Help me! Mint Has Taken Over My Garden!

Q: Please help! I planted mint in my garden bed two years ago and it totally took over. I have spent months (literally) trying to dig out all the runners that keep popping up, but to no avail. What should I do to get rid of the mint? A: My heart goes out to you. Mint is a particularly tenacious herb that doesn't respect personal space in the garden. Some of the advice you might hear includes, "Spray weed killer everywhere!" or "spray all plants that pop up with really soapy water," and even "pour lighter fluid on it and let it burn!" I don't recommend any of these techniques, especially the last one. Weed killer and soapy water only kill the top part of the plant, leaving the roots in tact and capable of putting out "runners." Runners are the new little plants that pop up all over your yard even though you've only planted one plant. Controlled burns are a really bad idea in the desert. Our climate and landscape is too dry to safely facilitate a controlled burn, even with water and sand on hand; so just don't do it. The best and only real way to get rid of the mint is to dig, dig, and dig some more. Make sure you are digging deeply enough to get the entire root out and not just breaking off the top. Mulching an area after you have pulled all the mint will help control new growth. The best advice when dealing with mint: Always plant it in a pot!

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