Question about weed/vine suppression w/less or no chemicals, SE Penna

MikoDel

Member
Location
SE PA
I just got a call from a local woman who lives adjacent to a township-owned 13 acre lot. She wants some clearing done that the machines didn't get to, mainly around the stream/creek area. Mostly vines and such. But her bigger concern is, once the twp cleared away all the dead trees, it's pretty much a 13 acre mud patch now.

The twp. made a minimal effort and planted some tiny saplings, but all in all, their plan is to spray it w/a laundry list of chemicals to prevent re-growth of more vines and I guess other invasive specues that played a part in killing all the trees that used to be there.

So for a moment let's forget that it's 13 acres. Imagine it's just a patch of someone's yard. What advice would you give to a client who has good sunlight, wants to populate their space w/ fast growing native species of trees and shrubs in southeastern PA, but isn't crazy about putting chemicals such as glyphosate, etc. down to retard weeds and other stuff? I'm not a certified arborist, and therefore I don't have the requisite soil mgmt training. Ultimately I'm sure I won't be able to help her with the bigger problem of add'l re-planting and undesirable species suppression, but I'd like to make this a learning experience for myself. Ground cover (plastic, cloth, purpose-built landscape stuff) is about the only thing I can think of. That and digging out the roots.

Suggestions for weed killing cocktails that do minimal damage to the ecosystem are welcome too, of course.

TIA!

Miko
 

Reach

Well-Known Member
Location
Atglen, PA
Good afternoon neighbor! A couple thoughts, depending on her goals and how chemical averse she is, as I have done this type of thing in the past.

First thing is to kill off everything that is there now in order to replant desirable plants. If she will allow a one-time chemical application, use a mixture at a high rate of glyphosate (RoundUp) and Crossbow. This will kill everything that is there completely, but will allow replanting as soon as a week later.

If she is chemical free completely, cover it all with thick black plastic for a couple months.

Next step is planting; I’ve done as simple as hydro seeding Crown Vetch and Annual Rye to grow an impenetrable, maintenance free blanket on a hill, or more complex- a mixture of native shrubs and trees, seeded in between with one of many different seed blends from Ernst Seeds.

Check out what Ernst Seeds has to offer, they have many seed blends ideal for various conditions and levels of desired maintenance, and they are great at guiding you to the best blend for your use.
 

Neill

Member
Location
North carolina
Controlling non-native invasive species can be an undertaking. In my experience it can take multiple years to control and eradicate things, so being prepared to keep working at it for awhile is important. People sometimes start land reclamation projects like this with a full head of steam and eventually give up only to have disturbed the site even more and creating an even worse situation. Two points I’ll suggest- plant and get established anything that is not the undesirable plants that are/were there. The suggestion of rye, or seed blends from Ernst is agreeable tome. #2consider using chemicals. Yes they do carry some stigma but doing a one or two time application versus years of mechanical control is advantageous.If you stump treat properly it is a relatively small amount of chemical and you avoid a lot of disturbance. Plus it’s incredibly effective.

here’s a great resource from the forest service.

fast growing and native? Redbud and red maple.
 

ATH

Well-Known Member
Location
Ohio
How bad is the soil? Did they compact it and cause a lot of erosion issues? That can make it difficult to grow many native plants.

In traditional forestry, there is often very little weed control done, but usually something is needed. Once the trees are established, they stand is often left to fight for itself. However, there are certainly some non-native invasives that come in and really need to be dealt with - each area has their own issues...but a few to keep an eye out for include:
honeysuckle (bush and vine)
kudzu
privet
autumn olive
Japanese knotweed
barberry
Ailanthus
Palownia
Stilt grass
Reed canary grass
Callery pear
Norway maple
Buckthorn
Oriental bittersweet

Oh...and don't forget the giant rats! You can plant the best trees and shrubs, control the invasives and the deer eat everything you do.

I do NOT recommend landscape fabrics. They inhibit air and moisture exchange and don't let the decaying organic matter get to the roots of the trees.
 

oldoakman

Well-Known Member
Location
Alorgia
Check with the state environmental protection department. Most states have strict regulations regarding stream buffers. The Georgia county that I work in requires a 50 foot undisturbed natural buffer, 25 state and 25 county's
 

Serf Life

Well-Known Member
Location
Maine Island
Cooperative extensions are a phenomenal resource. There are weed killers listed for riparian areas (ATH once mentioned roundup custom) if permissible in that area. Well timed cut and paint would be highly effective and minimal chemical. Or tell them it will be x gallons of 2stroke and bar oil a few times a year for a decade.
 

Jzack605

Well-Known Member
Location
Long island
Yeah we do a ton of cut stump. It’s super tedious sometimes but we do this work in wetland areas pretty commonly. It’s higher concentrations but targeted applications that any kind of off target applications is extremely rare. Haven’t done the math but it’s probably less than broadcast spraying. We just have to use products labeled for use in wetland conservation areas. I’m in NY so labels/products might be different here. Cant recall which herbicide is labeled for wetland areas off top of my head. I usually only get thrown in that crew a few times in winter.
 

oceans

Well-Known Member
Location
MA, USA
If untouched, Forests grow up through succession. There is much to be said about how that creates a soil food web over time.

But, forgetting it’s 13 acres, my immediate thought was to establish as many canopy layers you can create with the desired replanting, with the idea of proper companions in mind. Give them space, water, time, and whatever protection is required until they are established.
 
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Jzack605

Well-Known Member
Location
Long island
Post emergent nonselective herbicide for aquatic use should be Lasso, if my memory is correct.
We have been using vastlan as my last post stated, Which is approved for wetland areas. I’m not 100% sure this applies to riparian areas as it’s not something we deal with often with the conservation areas we work on here on Long Island.
 

Reach

Well-Known Member
Location
Atglen, PA
We have been using vastlan as my last post stated, Which is approved for wetland areas. I’m not 100% sure this applies to riparian areas as it’s not something we deal with often with the conservation areas we work on here on Long Island.
My apologies for the unclear post written while I was half asleep, I did not mean that Vastlan could not be used, I simply meant that Lasso could be an option.
 

ATH

Well-Known Member
Location
Ohio
Garlon 3A is also labeled for wetland use. I use that for cut stump and glyphosate for foliar. I agree that cut stump treatments use less chemical per acre in most circumstances (even though it is used at a higher rate)...but on smaller material it is impractical to think you are treating all of the cut stumps. But maybe there are alternatives.

For example, I just looked at a job that will include a couple of acres with a lot of buckthorn that is less than 1/2" in diameter and about 3-4' tall. It is in the understory so very spindly with each plant having maybe 6-10 leaves. The contract calls for foliar spray May-July or cut stump treatment Aug-Dec (and the contract ends in Dec). I think we would get poor coverage trying to do foliar spray on that and there would be a lot of overspray. I recommended they let us cut all of that with a clearing saw now, not try to pretend we are able treat all the stumps, then come back early fall. If it sprouts, it will be easier and more effective to treat with foliar spray at that size. If it is not sprouted by then, it is dead without any chemicals (which may happen since it is so suppressed).
 

MikoDel

Member
Location
SE PA
How bad is the soil? Did they compact it and cause a lot of erosion issues? That can make it difficult to grow many native plants.

In traditional forestry, there is often very little weed control done, but usually something is needed. Once the trees are established, they stand is often left to fight for itself. However, there are certainly some non-native invasives that come in and really need to be dealt with - each area has their own issues...but a few to keep an eye out for include:
honeysuckle (bush and vine)
kudzu
privet
autumn olive
Japanese knotweed
barberry
Ailanthus
Palownia
Stilt grass
Reed canary grass
Callery pear
Norway maple
Buckthorn
Oriental bittersweet

Oh...and don't forget the giant rats! You can plant the best trees and shrubs, control the invasives and the deer eat everything you do.

I do NOT recommend landscape fabrics. They inhibit air and moisture exchange and don't let the decaying organic matter get to the roots of the trees.
"How bad is the soil?"

I don't know. The client explained she won't be available to give me the tour for a few weeks. I really appreciate you experienced professionals taking the time to weigh in on this. Aside from whatever clearing I can do (of course I'd like to help her out) I will certainly pass on these recommendations, incl the part about: check w/state and county reg. My adivce to her, aside from going w/a large company if she can raise the funding, will be whatever I can offer after I personally inspect, and also the benefit of what I'm learning. I'm looking into all of your input.

This woman is active on the Shade Tree Comission. And politically aware. She asked me who my rep was, and what ward I was in. I managed to tell her where I voted, and she knew immediately all the players. I imagine this will all be by-the-book.

I have experience with a lot of the invasives you mention... my own property claims chunks of my time here and there pulling out J knotweed. I don't know what grows faster, that or kudzu. Might have to take 'em both to Atco and watch 'em run };-p
 
Last edited:

oceans

Well-Known Member
Location
MA, USA
Garlon 3A is also labeled for wetland use. I use that for cut stump and glyphosate for foliar. I agree that cut stump treatments use less chemical per acre in most circumstances (even though it is used at a higher rate)...but on smaller material it is impractical to think you are treating all of the cut stumps. But maybe there are alternatives.

For example, I just looked at a job that will include a couple of acres with a lot of buckthorn that is less than 1/2" in diameter and about 3-4' tall. It is in the understory so very spindly with each plant having maybe 6-10 leaves. The contract calls for foliar spray May-July or cut stump treatment Aug-Dec (and the contract ends in Dec). I think we would get poor coverage trying to do foliar spray on that and there would be a lot of overspray. I recommended they let us cut all of that with a clearing saw now, not try to pretend we are able treat all the stumps, then come back early fall. If it sprouts, it will be easier and more effective to treat with foliar spray at that size. If it is not sprouted by then, it is dead without any chemicals (which may happen since it is so suppressed).
Sounds like a proper IPM Strategy!
 

Serf Life

Well-Known Member
Location
Maine Island
We cleared invasives from a sizable lot abutting a swamp last year and left as many saplings as possible. Herbicides would not be permitted so my plan is keep brush sawing the regrowth until the trees can get ahead and eventually become more dominant. Lots of work and really pays to not tear up the soil which would germinate more. Go for crown closure and keep after it is the plan. And convince folks to kill their fucking burning bush hedge that’s seeding the neighboring forests!! E8E271CB-A2F4-4467-9175-03B10D373E2B.jpeg 6F92C13F-53A4-4F0D-8061-A4328E0360F7.jpeg 642915C9-CB24-4E56-9093-67D681E7B7A0.jpeg
 

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