How to Identify and Remove Bindweed

Bindweed is a persistent and invasive weed that can quickly take over gardens, fields, and landscapes. Getting rid of bindweed takes some effort, but following a few simple control methods can help you manage this stubborn weed.

Identifying Bindweed

There are two common types of bindweed: field bindweed and hedge bindweed. Knowing how to spot their characteristics is the first step in bindweed control.

Field Bindweed

Field bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis) is native to Europe and Asia and is one of the most problematic weeds in agricultural areas and landscapes. Identifying characteristics of field bindweed include:

  • Twining or creeping vines that can grow 6 feet long or more.
  • Arrowhead-shaped leaves about 1-2 inches long.
  • Pink or white funnel-shaped flowers that bloom from May to September.
  • Deep and extensive root system that can grow 20 feet deep or more.

Hedge Bindweed

Hedge bindweed (Calystegia sepium) is native to Eurasia and is commonly found in riparian and wetland areas. Identification features include:

  • Twining vines that can reach 10 feet long or more.
  • Arrowhead or triangular-shaped leaves 2-4 inches long.
  • Large white funnel-shaped flowers 2-3 inches wide that bloom July through September.
  • Deep root system but not as extensive as field bindweed.

Both types of bindweed have vines that twine and climb anti-clockwise around supports. The vines are slightly hairy and have distinct leaf bracts where leaves attach to stems.

How Bindweed Spreads

Bindweed spreads vegetatively through its roots and rhizomes. Pieces of roots left in the soil can produce new shoot growth. It also spreads by seed, though less commonly.

  • Roots and rhizomes – The extensive underground root system allows bindweed to pop up and spread rapidly. Roots can grow incredibly deep, over 20 feet down. Horizontal roots or rhizomes spread out underground and send up new shoots.
  • Seeds – While less common, bindweed does produce small seeds that spread by animals, birds, human activity, farm equipment, contaminated plant material, and more. Seeds can remain dormant in soil for up to 20 years.

Dangers of Bindweed

Bindweed may have pretty flowers, but it is a tenacious weed that can cause serious problems:

  • Overtakes and smothers plants – Twining vines twist around and grow over plants, blocking sunlight and strangling growth. Bindweed can kill or severely reduce yields of crops and plants.
  • Reduces yields – By competing for water and nutrients, bindweed diminishes harvests and productivity of agricultural fields.
  • Decreases land value – Heavy bindweed infestations make agricultural land less productive and reduce land value. Costly control efforts also decrease profitability.
  • Difficult to eradicate – Established bindweed is stubborn and hard to remove due to its extensive, deep roots. It requires persistent management over several years.

How to Remove and Control Bindweed

Getting rid of bindweed requires diligence and using multiple control methods together. Here are the most effective ways to remove bindweed and keep it at bay:

Remove Roots Manually

Manual digging can eliminate roots in small infestations and is most effective on young plants before roots grow extensively:

  • Use a shovel, spade, or digging tool to remove entire root system and rhizomes, digging at least 18-24 inches deep.
  • Remove any plants or roots that run under fences, pavement, or other structures.
  • Shake off excess soil and dispose of plants and roots in trash, not compost.

Repeated Tilling

Frequent and repeated tilling can help control bindweed by cutting up root systems:

  • Till infested area to 8-10 inch depth, wait 1-2 weeks for regrowth.
  • Till again and repeat every 2 weeks throughout growing season to exhaust root reserves.
  • Combining with mulch or solarization helps weaken regrowth.

Apply Herbicides

Certain herbicides are effective on bindweed when used repeatedly and diligently:

  • Systemic herbicides like glyphosate (Roundup) translocate to the roots when foliage is sprayed.
  • Use herbicide several times as regrowth appears; persistence is key.
  • Non-systemic options like 2,4-D also provide topkill but may require more frequent applications.
  • Consult local extension office for best herbicide options and timing for your region.

Smother with Mulch

Smothering bindweed with organic mulch can suppress growth by blocking sunlight and preventing photosynthesis:

  • Cover area 3-4 inches deep with mulch like wood chips, straw, newspaper, or cardboard.
  • Overlap edges to prevent shoots from emerging.
  • Reapply as needed if mulch decomposes or is displaced.

Solarize the Soil

Solarization uses the sun’s energy to heat the soil and kill plants and seeds:

  • Moisten soil and cover with clear plastic sheeting, burying edges.
  • Leave in hot, sunny place for 4-6 weeks in summer.
  • Heat Buildup and moisture kill roots, rhizomes, and seeds near soil surface.
  • Can use in conjunction with organic mulch for added control.

Preventing Bindweed Growth

Prevention is the best defense against bindweed infestations. Try these proactive measures to avoid issues down the road:

  • Carefully check any plant material brought into the area for bindweed roots or seeds.
  • Clean farm equipment, mowing and tilling machinery before moving to a new area.
  • Use weed-free crop seeds and nursery transplants.
  • Manage irrigation to avoid excess watering that encourages bindweed.
  • Apply mulch around desired plants to prevent bindweed from establishing.
  • Monitor regularly and remove any young bindweed plants immediately.
  • Follow up any control methods with revegetation of desirable plants.

Frequently Asked Questions about Bindweed

How long does it take to get rid of bindweed?

It typically takes 2-5 years of repeated control methods to fully eradicate an established bindweed infestation. Persistence is key as the roots are difficult to kill completely. Continued monitoring and maintenance are needed.

What kills bindweed organically?

Organic methods like mulching, solarization, or repeated cultivation can weaken and suppress bindweed over time. Combining 2-3 organic controls provides the best results without chemicals. Vinegar or soap-based herbicides may provide some control but are less effective.

Does vinegar kill bindweed?

Household vinegar applied full strength to foliage can provide some control but does not translocate into the roots well. Horticultural vinegar with higher acetic acid levels is more effective but also will not kill the root system completely. Repeated applications are needed.

Will Roundup kill bindweed?

Yes, glyphosate products like Roundup can be effective for controlling bindweed when applied repeatedly as regrowth appears. Systemic action translocates the herbicide into roots for a more complete kill. Non-selective foliar applications are best and avoid root disturbance.

Does bleach kill bindweed?

Bleach can be used for spot treating bindweed but is not practical or environmentally safe for large infestations. The salt concentration in bleach damages foliage but may not kill roots. Repeat applications would be needed and can harm soil microbiology.

Does bindweed come back every year?

Yes, bindweed will return each year from root systems and rhizomes that survive winter. New shoots emerge from roots as temperatures warm in spring. Continued control efforts are needed in subsequent seasons to stop regrowth and deplete the roots over time.


Bindweed is a challenging weed, but with persistence and the right control methods you can get rid of and prevent further invasion. Manual digging, repeated tilling and herbicide use, along with smothering or solarizing, provide the best results when combined over several seasons. Stopping seed spread and early removal of young plants will help keep this stubborn weed from establishing. Stay vigilant with monitoring and maintenance and you can reclaim your yard, garden or fields from bindweed.

How to Identify and Remove Bindweed


Bindweed is a persistent and invasive weed that has beautiful funnel-shaped flowers, but can quickly take over gardens and landscapes. There are two common types of bindweed – field bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis) and hedge bindweed (Calystegia sepium). Both have competitive root systems that allow them to grow and spread quickly, becoming a frustrating nuisance for homeowners and gardeners. Successfully identifying bindweed is the first step, followed by combating the infestation through various physical, chemical, and cultural control methods. With repeated applications, bindweed can be removed and further invasion prevented.

Identifying Bindweed

The first step in fighting any weed is learning how to identify it. There are some key characteristics of both field and hedge bindweed that allow you to spot them.

Field Bindweed

  • Arrowhead-shaped leaves 1-2 inches long
  • Twining/creeping vines growing along the ground and climbing up structures, plants, fences. Can reach 6 feet long.
  • White or pink funnel-shaped flowers blooming from May-September
  • Deep and extensive root system reaching up to 20 feet deep

Hedge Bindweed

  • Leaves are larger – 2-4 inches long and arrowhead or triangular shaped
  • Twining vines reaching lengths over 10 feet
  • Large white funnel-shaped flowers, 2-3 inches wide blooming July-September
  • Deep root system but not as extensive as field bindweed

Both types of bindweed vines twist counterclockwise around structures, fences or plants as they grow upwards. Take note of the leaf bracts where leaves join the stem, which can aid identification. Confirming identification will ensure proper and effective control methods.

Dangers of Bindweed Infestations

While the flowers may look innocent, bindweed can cause serious issues in landscapes, gardens and agricultural fields. Knowing the potential risks can help motivate removal and prevention efforts.

  • Overtakes desirable plants, smothering them by cutting off sunlight
  • Competes aggressively for water and nutrients, stunting growth of nearby plants
  • Reduces yields of crops and plant productivity across fields and gardens
  • Decreases land values when heavily infested
  • Costly and challenging to control due to deep root systems and vigorous regrowth

Manual Removal of Roots

The most effective physical control method is to manually dig up the entire root system. This works best on young or newly established bindweed plants before extensive root growth.

When to Dig

  • Spring and fall when soil is moist – avoid midsummer heat
  • After recent rainfall softens the ground
  • Use shovel, trowel, digging fork or spade

How to Dig

  • Loosen soil around vines to follow roots
  • Trace roots outward from the plant, dig at least 18-24 inches down
  • Remove all root fragments and rhizomes – they can resprout!
  • Dispose of plants/roots in trash or sealed bag, do not compost


  • Re-fill holes and re-plant with desired vegetation
  • Monitor area for regrowth and remove immediately
  • Repeat digging as needed for total eradication

Manual digging can successfully eliminate bindweed roots and rhizomes when done thoroughly and repeatedly as needed.

Repeated Tilling

Frequent tilling is an effective way to control bindweed by cutting up and damaging the root system.

When to Till

  • During growing season when vines are active
  • Avoid tilling when ground is excessively wet

How to Till

  • Till area 8-10 inches deep initially
  • Wait 1-2 weeks for regrowth to start
  • Till again to same depth – repeat every 2 weeks
  • Use string trimmer or mower to cut down regrowth in between tilling

Tilling Tips

  • Combine tilling with mulches to further weaken regrowth
  • Can help prepare area for solarization as well
  • Perform follow-up monitoring and spot treatment as needed

Repeated tilling every 2 weeks exhausts the bindweed root reserves and prevents regrowth. Combining with other methods enhances control.

Using Herbicides

Certain systemic and non-selective herbicides are useful in controlling bindweed when applied properly and repeatedly.

Timing of Applications

  • Apply when vines are actively growing in spring and summer
  • Start applications early before extensive growth

Effective Products

  • Systemic: Glyphosate (Roundup) translocates throughout plant and root system
  • Non-systemic: 2,4-D, dicamba – injure above ground growth but regrowth likely

Application Tips

  • Follow all label instructions carefully
  • Apply in dry, calm weather avoiding drift
  • Repeated applications as regrowth appears are key
  • Avoid root disturbance after spraying for best translocation

Consult local extension office for the most effective herbicides for your situation. Using herbicides repeatedly and consistently provides the best results.

Smothering Bindweed with Mulch

Using organic mulch materials to smother bindweed growth is an eco-friendly control option.

Effective Mulch Materials

  • Wood chips, shredded bark – make sure no weed seeds!
  • Straw or hay – use certified weed-free
  • Layered newspaper or cardboard sheets

How to Mulch

  • Spread mulch 3-4 inches deep over area
  • Overlap edges to prevent shoots from emerging
  • Weigh down loose materials like straw with boards

Maintaining Mulch

  • Reapply mulch as materials decompose
  • Monitor for and remove any shoots emerging through mulch

Added Benefits

  • Suppresses weeds and conserves soil moisture when used in gardens
  • Avoid mulching right against desired plant stems

Smothering blocks light and prevents bindweed from photosynthesizing, eventually killing the plant. Persistence with mulch depth is key.

Soil Solarization for Bindweed Control

Soil solarization uses the sun’s heat to kill bindweed seeds, roots, and rhizomes in the upper soil layers.

When to Solarize

  • Summer months when temperatures are consistently high
  • Clear skies and maximum sunlight needed

How to Solarize

  • Moisten soil then cover area with clear plastic sheeting
  • Bury edges at least 6 inches deep to seal
  • Leave plastic in place 4-6 weeks through hottest period

Enhancing Effect

  • Can combine with organic mulch under plastic
  • Use drip irrigation under plastic to keep moist
  • Rotate plastic to new section each year for continued control

Soil solarization provides an eco-friendly option for suppressing bindweed without chemicals. The hot and moist conditions kill roots near the surface.

Preventing Bindweed Infestations

Preventing bindweed from establishing in the first place is the best way to avoid infestations.

  • Inspect all plant materials thoroughly before bringing onto property
  • Carefully monitor for seedlings and remove immediately
  • Apply mulch around desired plantings to block light
  • Manage irrigation carefully to avoid excess watering
  • Clean equipment after working in infested areas
  • Maintain healthy plantings and soils to discourage weed growth

Early detection and eradication of new bindweed growth is key for prevention. Avoiding introduction via contaminated materials can also protect property from infestation.


Getting rid of bindweed requires using a combination of manual, mechanical, chemical, and cultural control methods consistently over several growing seasons. Identifying bindweed properly and understanding its dangers enables motivation and persistence in removing it for good. Preventative steps can also help avoid the frustration of bindweed invading your landscape and gardens in the first place. With dedication to control and prevention efforts, you can successfully manage bindweed and reclaim your property.

How to Identify and Remove Bindweed

What is Bindweed?

Bindweed refers to two similar climbing vines, field bindweed and hedge bindweed, that are invasive weeds in gardens and landscapes. They have pretty white or pink funnel-shaped flowers but can quickly spread by underground roots and rhizomes to form dense mats that choke out other plants. Bindweed is extremely persistent and tough to remove once established, requiring diligent and repeated control methods. Learning how to identify bindweed is the critical first step in treating and removing an infestation.

Characteristics of Bindweed for Identification

There are two primary types of bindweed with similar characteristics:

Field Bindweed

  • Scientific name: Convolvulus arvensis
  • Leaves are 1-2 inches long shaped like arrowheads
  • Flowers are white or pink funnels that bloom May – September
  • Vine can grow along ground or twine up supports, fences, plants to 6 feet long
  • Extensive root system grows very deep, up to 20 feet

Hedge Bindweed

  • Scientific name: Calystegia sepium
  • Leaves are larger, 2-4 inches long, triangular shape
  • Flowers are larger white funnels, 2-3 inches wide blooming July-Sept
  • Vine can reach lengths over 10 feet
  • Root system not as deep and extensive as field bindweed

Both have vines that twist counterclockwise as they grow. Look for leaf bracts where leaves join stems. Seeds are rounded and about 1/8 inch wide.

Dangers and Effects of Bindweed Infestations

While bindweed flowers provide nectar for pollinators, infestations of this vigorous weed can wreak havoc in your landscape. Understanding the threats can help motivate removal efforts.

  • Overtakes and smothers desired plants by blocking sunlight
  • Competes aggressively with plants for soil moisture and nutrients
  • Reduces productivity and crop yields when rampant in agricultural fields
  • Decreases land value when heavily infested
  • Extremely stubborn and difficult to eradic