Replant to get rid of invasives

GARDEN Q&A

June 17, 2006|By JON TRAUNFELD AND ELLEN NIBALI | JON TRAUNFELD AND ELLEN NIBALI,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Invasives are overtaking me! I decided to pull out mile-a-minute vine in an overgrown area, and found not only mile-a-minute by the bushelful, but multiflora rose, Canada thistle, etc. Should I just mow the whole area, saving the native milkweed and sumac, spray and start over by planting something else?

Where there is one invasive, there are often many. Your plan sounds fine, especially replanting. If you don't replant desirable plants (at least half natives is an admirable goal), invasive plants will quickly reinfest the area. A triage approach is often necessary, first tackling the fastest spreaders, the easiest to kill (e.g. Oriental bittersweet), and those about to produce seeds or berries. For big areas, break down the battle into smaller parcels.

Checklist

Run the warm water out of your hose on hot, sunny days to avoid burning tender plants.

Mulch tomato plants with sections of newspaper covered with straw or compost to conserve soil moisture and prevent weeds.

Jon Traunfeld, regional specialist, and Ellen Nibali, horticulture consultant, work at Maryland Cooperative Extension's Home and Garden Information Center, which offers Maryland residents free gardening information. Call the center's "hotline" at 800-342-2507 or e-mail questions through the Send a Question feature at hgic.umd.edu.

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