Mark's bindweed eradication program -- chemical-free!

Bindweed, a form of morning glory, is a pernicious, twining, smothering weed.
Every bit of root sprouts into a new plant, so roto-tilling a bed where bindweed exists is guaranteed to make it worse.
Bindweed apparently grows a huge tuber deep underground; measured in pounds and several feet deep, so that big core taproot can outlast you.

Bindweed demands plenty of sun. It won't grow in shade.

We have a lot of bindweed in our veg and flower beds. I weeded most of it out years ago through meticulous, obsessive hand-weeding but as soon as I stopped, the bindweed returned.

Mark -- who thinks differently -- came up with a different solution and it seems to be working. He is taking advantage of its growth habit. Over each bindweed sprout, Mark set an upended can (soup, bean, top-removed salvaged beer cans from Hershey Park).
He lets the bindweed continue to grow up into the can. No sunlight penetrates the metal. The bindweed shoots grow and grow but they're starved for light. Yet they are not ... stimulated (?) into growing more shoots because they aren't being pulled.

We've got dozens of upended cans littering the garden beds and some in the lawn too (mowing hazards but he works around them). It looks very peculiar.

Sidewalk cracks -- where we also get bindweed shoots -- got covered over with salvaged floor tiles.

After a few months, Mark's experiment seems to be working. There's less bindweed, a LOT less. The taproot doesn't seem to be sending up multiple new shoots. Remove a can and the bindweed filling it is wan and pale, looking unhealthy.

I assume Mark will leave the cans in place over the winter and into next year, replacing as needed. Starving the taproot tuber seems to be working in a way that nothing else did.

Best of all, no herbicide and very little hand weeding!

Comments and thoughts?

Wow! I have got to try that. I pull and pull and I can keep it knocked back if I am diligent, but this sounds like a very easy way to get rid of it permanently by depriving that tap root of solar energy. I would be trying this in my vegetable garden beds, so it could be quite the challenge to prepare the beds then get a boat load of cans upended over any sprouting bind weed. Definitely going to try it.

What's happening for us is we have to get every stem of the bindweed.
Mark stuffs the growing end into a can (label removed because it's going to fall off anyway and litter the garden), upends the can and makes sure the open end is worked into the soil a 1/2 or so. That way, no light penetrates. Then he leaves them alone.

The same is true for the salvaged floor tiles covering cracks and gaps in our sidewalks. No light, less growth and what you do get is very unhealthy-looking.

I think the act of pulling bindweed and breaking the growing stem or root stimulates more sprout growth. No stimulation, less sprout growth.

We'll see what happens this winter and next spring.

I usually rely on shade mulch in many of my vegetable beds to shade out the bind weed, but that could be the fall back method after I have the cans positioned when all the veggie plants are little. The shade mulch works pretty well, but not 100% and there are just some plants that don't cast that much shade unless you plant very densely.

It sounds like Mark's solution is working well and it reminded me of one that I used a few years ago: an old tire. I trained the underground rhizomes into the inside of an old car tire. The shoots grew and grew, around and around and around inside the tire all Summer long. I pulled them out of the tire at the end of the growing season and hung them on top of a tomato cage to dry in the desiccating sun of autumn. It felt like . . . Victory!