How to deal with pesky mint in your yard

Mint is truly southern.  The mere utterance of the words “Mint Julep” brings to mind Atlantans sitting on their front porches, enjoying the shade, and sipping on glorious concoctions made from beloved mint.  However, there are many people who cringe at the mention of mint because their minds conjure up images of mint plants popping up everywhere.  It is difficult to contain mint once it graces your yard.  It loves Atlanta weather, especially the summer heat and humidity as well as the mild winters that allow it to flourish in the spring.

Peppermint is the most common type seen around metro Atlanta.  Its botanical name is Mentha piperita.  It reproduces by sending underground runners through the soil.  It can also be rooted from cuttings and grown from seeds.  Since it tends to be invasive, great care should be used when you decide to incorporate mint into your landscape.

Many people plant mint in a raised bed surrounded by a brick wall.  Great at escaping, it will spill over walls and take root where it touches the ground.  They are determined plants and will poke their heads through the smallest cracks in their brick enclosure.  Mint wants its freedom and it wants to reproduce!

So why would anyone intentionally plant mint in their yard?  While there are a few reasons to dislike mint, there are many more reason to tolerate it and learn to love its quirkiness.

  • Mint gives off a pleasant aroma when you brush against it or step on it.  Mint loves to say ‘hi’ as you walk by.
  • Mint makes a quick snack; just pluck a few leaves and chew them for a pick-me-up while you’re outside.
  • Mint turns even the simplest drink into something special.
  • Mint is used extensively in Middle Eastern cooking.
  • Mint is used for medicinal purposes such as indigestion.
  • Mint makes an easy garnish for almost any food.

Mint is definitely worth growing, but you should take precautions when planting.  One of the easiest ways to grow mint is in containers.  If you keep the container on concrete, mint cannot spread unless, of course, it finds a crack in the concrete!

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