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Lakeville Journal
Learn about defenses against relentless invasive plants
By Cynthia Hochswender
May 20, 2010

SALISBURY — Tired of those nasty pricker bushes (Rosa multiflora) taking over your yard?  Come to the Academy Building on Main Street (across from Town Hall) on Saturday, May 22, at 10 a.m. for a short talk by Jessica Toro on how to recognize and start addressing the problems of nonnative invasive species in your yard, garden or forest.

Refreshments will be served, and Toro will also answer specific questions about plants and how to be rid of them.

It’s the first of several events sponsored by the Salisbury Land Trust, focusing on 12 of the most problematic nonnative invasives — “The Dirty Dozen.”

Although native invasives can be difficult enough to manage, the nonnative invasives have greater destructive power. They take over from local plants and can not only force out native creatures and insects, they also can provide a healthy habitat for undesirables such as Lyme-bearing ticks.

Spring is often the best time of year to try and eradicate the aggressive sprawl of non-native invasives, according to Toro, who was most recently with the Nature Conservancy in Massachusetts and now co-owns Native Habitat Restoration in Stockbridge, with Sari Hoy.

Some nonnative invasives can be pulled by hand, Toro said, such as garlic mustard, whose tiny white flowers bloom in yards throughout the Northwest Corner. The essential thing to remember with garlic mustard, Toro warned, is that the pulled plants (which come up easily from the soil) must be bagged and disposed of at the transfer station. If they are tossed into compost or a field, they will continue to proliferate.

The good news, though, is that an hour or two a week (especially now, early in the growing season) can significantly reduce the garlic mustard population in yards and fields.

Other plants can be much trickier, she warned, and need to be treated with an herbicide such as Roundup. At a workshop on June 5, Toro will explain how to combat larger invasives. At the May 22 event she will also explaing the benefits of the judicious use of Roundup, and the  hows and whens of herbicide use.

The 12 plants included in the Dirty Dozen are Japanese barberry, multiflora rose, bush honeysuckle, burning bush, buckthorn, privet, oriental bittersweet, garlic mustard, purple loosestrife, Japanese knotweed, common reed (or phragmites), and Norway maple.

In addition to learning how to be rid of these plants, participants in the workshops will also learn to identify the plants — which are still sold at some nurseries.

An exhibit of the Dirty Dozen runs at the Academy Building through June 25.

Also scheduled:

June 5 — Hands-on workshop on controlling invasives, with Jessica Toro

June 12 — Ron Aakjar on gardening with native plants

June 19 — Rain Garden Tour

All events begin at 10 a.m. at the Academy Building and are free of charge. Call 860-435-0566 for more information.

© Copyright 2010 by TCExtra.com

Lakeville Journal
Don’t befriend invasive plants, they’ll take over your backyard
By Cynthia Hochswender
    October 1, 2009

SALISBURY — Because late summer/early autumn is an excellent time to kill non-native invasive plants, the Nature Conservancy and the Salisbury Parks and Forest Commission offered a workshop on Saturday, Sept. 19, at Hanging Rock Park, just up the hill from Town Hall.

The Nature Conservancy is a national group dedicated to protecting biodiversity. It has an office in Sheffield, Mass., and it owns, shares or maintains several large spreads of undeveloped land, sometimes in partnership with town land trusts.

Jessica Toro came down to Salisbury for the day, at the invitation of Chairman Tony Scoville and other members of the Parks and Forest Commission. Her mission was to show how non-natives can be controlled. Her reasons: they kill the native plants, they can have a devastating impact on local animals, and they offer a home to unwanted creatures such as Lyme ticks.

“Invasives have a negative effect on our lives for a variety of reasons,” she said.

Of course, her advice on how to kill non-native invasives can be extended to native invasives, which can be just as annoying to gardeners as the aggressive outsiders.

But because those outsiders are so aggressive, most landowners in the Northwest Corner are eager to take on super-weeds such as barberry, honeysuckle, bittersweet and the beautiful but dangerous multiflora rosa.

A dozen or so people attended the workshop — doused in bug repellent and wearing long pants, long sleeves and tall shoes, as protection against ticks and the abundant poison ivy that blankets the park. They were rewarded for their attendance with a free copy of the Nature Conservancy’s Guide to Invasive Plants, a small paperback that shows photos of common but unwelcome Northwest Corner shrubs, vines, herbs, grasses and aquatic plants. Copies of the book can be purchased from The Nature Conservancy.

A feeling of hopelessness is likely to overcome any landowner who looks through this book and then looks through his or her yard. But Toro remained upbeat and promised that these plants can in fact be managed.

“The key is prevention,” she said. “The more we reduce the spread of these plants, the better off we’ll be.”

Some plants, such as the ubiquitous garlic mustard, must be plucked from the ground by hand. The best time to do so, she advised, is in May, before they have sprouted white flowers and begun to seed. By June, she said, if they are picked they must be bagged and then thrown in the general garbage hopper.

Others must be treated with herbicide. While many Northwest Corner residents are opposed to using any chemicals on their property, Toro said that there is no way to stop some of these plants without the use of herbicides. She recommended products made with an ingredient called glyphosate, which must be combined with a surfectant that helps bind the herbicide to the plant.

This herbicide has been in use for many years and, unless it is ingested in large quantities, will not hurt children or pets, she said.

When it combines with soil, she added, it becomes inactive, unlike previous generations of herbicides.

However, she was adamant that the instructions must be carefully read and followed.

“What the label says, what those instructions tell you, is literally the law,” she said. “If you use these products and do  not follow the instructions, you are breaking the law.”

Not only that, you are also taking a chance that you will not get the results you were looking for. One national brand that she recommended is Round Up, which is commonly available and has those two key ingredients. Buy a spray bottle (that you will use only for this herbicide and nothing else) and dilute the contents with water, according to the instructions.

There are two ways to apply the glyphosate: on the leaves and on the stump. You will use a different dilution level for the two different methods; the label will explain how to do it.

If you choose to spray the leaves, she warned, you must get the herbicide on at least 50 to 60 percent of the leaf surface. Get the leaves wet, but not so wet that there is runoff.

If you choose to spray the stumps, cut the plant off a few inches above the ground; this will make it easier if you have to reapply in a week or two. Spray or “paint” the exposed stump.

Toro recommends leaving the cut branches, trunks, leaves or vines in place for at least a week or two.

“That way you can see which areas you’ve treated,” she said.

If the application was successful, the plant should begin to turn brown and show signs of death within a week or 10 days.

“It’s sometimes hard to tell at this time of year,” she said, “because the plants are beginning to turn brown and die off anyway.”

The results should be apparent by next spring, though. Even though fall can disguise the effectiveness of the treatment, she said, this is an especially good time to try and stop the spread of invasives. The plants have all flushed their systems in preparation for winter and their energy stores are depleted.

Early spring is the other most effective time to treat invasives, just after the plants have made their entry into your garden and woodlands.

There are dozens of Web sites dedicated to controlling non-native invasives; The Nature Conservancy’s is at tncweeds.ucdavis.edu. The University of Connecticut Web site is at invasives.eeb.uconn.edu/ipane.

© Copyright 2009 by TCExtra.com