Sustainable gardening - removing invasives


(Note: It may be advisable to be sure this one gets to all Ivy Leaguers, though it may make them faint to read about actions taken against their beloved "invasive" ivy. Imagine these Pacific Northwest zealous de-viners seeing kudzu for the first time! Why, they'd positively go into a 'pulling frenzy!' One can only wonder at how many beneficial and downright awesome plants they'd condemn and how many noxious weeds they'd rhapsodize over ... until they broke out in oozing, itching rashes! All the talk below about people taking responsibility for 'introduced' plants. One could be misled into thinking that people are a bane to our planet -- that is, until one begins thinking with the intellect rather than the emotions, which is just what such postings seek to curtail.)


March 3, 2007


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Seattle Post-Intelligencer Blog

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With the never ending dreary weather, it's hard not to notice all the little sprigs of color that are courageously bursting forward.

If, like me, you've started to fantasize about your summer garden, you can get a head start by rooting out those pesty invasives now.

How can people take responsibility for their role in the dynamic of plant distribution on this earth? This is a question that is becoming more and more critical as humans and their landscapes, both agricultural and ornamental, become ever more encompassing of the earth's surface. Many introduced plants escape gardens and impact wildlands changing the flora and thus the fauna inhabiting those wildlands. In fact, estimates are that about 65% of invasive plants in wildlands were originally introduced as garden plants. - Seattle Tilth

Invasive plants can spread into the wild in many ways: humans can spread them, especially when they are not careful with their yard waste; birds can spread them; wind and water can also carry seeds and plant parts out into natural areas. Once present in the wild, the plants can multiply and can be extremely difficult and expensive to remove. In these circumstances, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

- The U.S. spends $120 billion annually on the control and impacts of more than 800 invasive species infestations. This does not account for the values of species extinctions and losses in biodiversity, ecosystems, services and aesthetics.

- Nine out of 21 of the most endangered ecosystems in the U.S. are significantly impacted by exotic invasions.

- 80 percent of the nation's fish communities are considered degraded because of decline or loss of native species and introduction of exotics. - North American Weed Management Association


While the list of invasives is extensive here are a few to start with: Buddleia davidii (Butterfly Bush), Foeniculum vulgare (Fennel), Hedera hibernica and selected Hedera helix cultivars (Atlantic Ivy and select cultivars of English Ivy), and Ilex aquifolium (English Holly). For more on these and other invasives specific to Washington check out Garden Plants Invasive to Western Washington.

For a great list of non-invasives for your garden visit Washington Invasive Species Coalition.

While you hopefully don't have any in your actual garden, Ivy in particular, is quite abundant in many of Seattle's streetscapes and has jumped habitat to many of our local parks where it's slowly strangling trees.


Tackling Ivy - The Walk by Pull


While their are many techniques for removing Ivy here's one that's easy for individuals or groups on a walk or hike --or for a jogger or biker taking a rest.


-follow that vine to where it emerges from the ground -- give an extra tug to get to the root of the problem

- winter is a great time for ground removal because the soil is moist and yielding

- grab a handful of the pulled vines and wring them like a wet dishrag -- this inhibits resprouting

- in the winter, wrap the pulled vines into a spaghetti ball, then drop on dried, fallen leaves to inhibit resprouting

- in the summer, scatter the vines -- they dry up quickly and become good compost for the forest

- avoid dropping pulled ivy vines on the trail because vines can snare an unsuspecting foot

- be alert for native plants beginning to sprout even as early as the end of January, depending on what kind of winter we're having

- be sure to say gotcha when you pull a handful of ivy


One of My Favorites - Freeing a Tree!


This winter the amount of Ivy growing up trees at Golden Gardens became alarmingly apparent. So much so that I started carrying clippers every time we took the dogs for a walk. What I learned was that simply cutting a section away at the bottom of a tree can be a treesaver.


- Cut the Ivy at the base of the tree where you can reach it.

- Pull the cut vine away from the base of the tree to where it's growing from the ground.

- Carefully recheck the tree's base for any thin vines which may be snaked under bark.

- Remember! If you do not get all the vines, you haven't freed the tree. A horrendous clump of Ivy on a tree can be supported with just one thin vine that tried to hide or was just overlooked!!

- Do not attempt to pull the cut vine growing up the tree - you could bring down a huge Ivy missile, a branch, or - a Yellow Jacket nest. It will whither and deteriorate on its own.


Posted by Danielle Johnson Danielle Johnson at March 3, 2007 9:40 a.m.
Copyright 2007, Seattle Post-Intelligencer.