|No woody weeds in Cathi's field
Self seeding trees are a real nuisance. They are nature’s first salvo in an ecological succession that might make your garden a wood.
They are a real nuisance when in a good year (for nature) they appear in their thousands in lawns, paths, nooks and crannies. They are quite tricky to control.
|Unwanted rhus sucker
Even worse are certain trees such ailanthus and rhus which when chopped down produce copious suckers from the inevitable root cuttings made when the top is taken away. Reader Carol is having a problem with aspens which she writes about in my post about tree stumps.
|Pull out this sycamore before it takes over
It is tempting to retain a few seedlings or suckers that transform into pretty saplings and eventually a small tree. Woe betide a new garden owner who wrongly thinks his tree was deliberately planted. Most gardens are too small to accommodate forest trees.
For me my main problems have been sycamore and birch which have appeared in their thousands.
|Holly and yew saplings suppressed for years under such as rhododendron suddenly become a problem
As to yew, Peter Williams now has a very fine hedge from a hundred yew seedlings and tiny plants I once garnered for him from a cemetery garden.
I have a less pleasant memory of spraying off abundant yew seedlings with MCPA and glyphosate to eventually find my employer had a vision of growing a yew wood!
|Self sown birch might become too big
I used to find that these chopped down trees suckered to make lovely multi-stemmed trees. Some birch trees in Bolton Percy cemetery are now on their third cycle!
|None of the trees in Worsbrough cemetery were actually planted
|Not all woody invaders are unwanted
I omit today the treatment of tree stumps. Where herbicides are concerned the principles however are very similar.
Their are many ways to actually kill woody weeds. Its just that you need to remember to do it.
So often I see tree seedlings left to become a real problem.
Myriads of seedlings
Under an old sycamore thousands of seedlings might suddenly appear in Spring. If it has been a cold Winter their necessary cold requirement has been satisfied and should it be a wet season they thrive.
In a small garden you can just hoe them away. In a very small garden you can just hand weed.
My own problem is where I manage large tracts of cemetery garden. My routine maintenance spray of 360g/litre glyphosate at 1 in 50 just does not work! (It might if the seedlings are still very small)
One solution might be to use glyphosate a little bit stronger, perhaps 1 in 40. In practice against woody weeds - and this includes such as brambles I use a mixture of glyphosate and MCPA each at 1 in 50. I would not do this anywhere near delicate plants, only in larger ‘open spaces’ or areas I deem ‘rough’.
Unlike glyphosate, MCPA remains active in the soil for a few weeks so don’t replant for a while after its use
|Ivy is a very difficult woody weed. Either live with it or (best) physically remove it, or use repeated herbicide applications to kill it
I buy MCPA as commercial product Agritox and have written about it for example to control nettles in grassland. It can be used alone against woody weeds but beyond young seedlings is not very effective.
In a lawn woody seedlings just mow out thank goodness!
If tree seedlings are allowed to remain into their second year you need a real brushwood killer to kill them. I have used the commercial product Grazon for this purpose. (I also use it for ‘difficult’ lawn weeds). It is quite brilliant but a bit pricy.
I have appended these notes on chemical control for those of you with large scale problems. For most of us for woody weeds physical methods are better
Your problems start when you allow woody weeds to pass the seedling stage and develop into saplings.
Saws, loppers and spades will have a place in your armoury. My recent post, ‘a curious incident’, indicates my distain for actually digging saplings out - huge effort, sore back, broken spades and damaged plants.
Frequently if pruned tight to the ground woody saplings will be killed. Some will regenerate, especially those that are older and larger. Do it again later, they soon will be gone for a fraction of the effort of digging them out.
If you are timely smaller saplings can merely be pulled out. Don’t use you back. Strain with your arms and if their is no sign of movement give up and go for the secateurs!
Peter’s field - a story
Brenda’s son in France inherited a supposedly grass field full of thousands of four foot high four year old ash saplings. Well beyond my puny efforts with secateur and saw. Eventually he asked his local farmer who in less than an hour flailed them all down. I think Peter’s two grazing horses did the rest and as far as I know the ash has never returned (although on the neighbours property it is now a small wood).
|Cathi's soay sheep ate all the tree seedlings but not the nettles