As you are aware, we had a brutal winter with much rain in late winter and early spring. A new and understaffed landscape department coupled with a new mowing contractor left much uncertainty to the responsibility of maintaining large grassy areas. The good news is that we did a thorough walk-through with the contractor and now have a better understanding of how often and when these grass areas should be mowed. We hope to see significant improvement in the upcoming weeks. The landscape team is also working with several contractors to assist in getting caught up with our landscape maintenance. Now let’s have a further discussion of weed control, which has been a concern to many of our members….
Spring rains and a few heat waves have given weeds a solid foundation this year. However, now that the Landscape Stewardship Department will be fully staffed by the end of June, we can focus on our main priority, managing our land in an ecologically healthy and aesthetically functional way. One of our main current projects is weed management on common property. Our goal as land managers is to manage the weeds before they spread either by seed or runners. Many of the weeds in our landscape are annuals, meaning that they grow each year, set seed to reproduce, and die back until their next growing season. A few common annual weeds we are currently managing are: Garlic Mustard, Willow Weed, Bittercress, and Annual Rye. Other weeds in our landscape are perennials, meaning they live for multiple years. A few perennial weeds we are currently managing are Himalayan Blackberry, Traveler’s Joy (Clematis), English Ivy, English Holly, and Scotch Broom.
We use a number of sustainable land management techniques to manage weeds. We utilize a natural herbicide, a product approved by the Organic Materials Review Institute, which is a combination of clove oil and citric acid. We are also using flame weeders, which physically burn the walls of herbaceous weeds. Additionally, we are removing weeds by hand where appropriate and also physically cutting down weeds before they set seed and spread, then spraying that area with natural herbicide, and mulching it with wood chips. For more information about specific sustainable ways to manage weeds, please reference: http://extension.oregonstate.edu/question-of-the-week/scotch-broom-smackdown.
Weeds have both beneficial and negative impacts on our landscape. Some of the negative impacts of weeds are: weeds can be an eyesore in our refined landscapes; weeds can outcompete and displace beneficial, native, and ornamental landscape plants; unmanaged weeds know no boundaries and can migrate from property to property. Some beneficial impacts of weeds are stabilization of soil; forage for wildlife and habitat; and addition of organic matter which at the root level allows microbes to correct mineral deficiencies in the soil. We aim to manage our land in a way that is both aesthetically pleasing and ecologically healthy.