[Tweeters] re: native vs non-native plants/birds

Allyn Weaks allyn. at tardigrade.net
Fri Sep 9 22:39:43 PDT 2005

On 8/9/2005, Dianna Moore wrote:

>After reading Allyn's fine post, though, I believe I will begin the daunting
>task of removal...long-handled clippers, heavy gloves, long-sleeved leather
>jacket, neo-sporin, bandages......

Thanks!  Depending on how much you have, it needn't be all that bad
though.  For smallish patches, my favorite tool is the Fiskars Pruning
Stik with a rotatable head.  Single handle slide action, fairly light,
about 5.5 feet long.  Worth every penny, especially for those of us who
simply don't bend anymore.  It can painlessly cut off tree suckers at
ground level, and it's much lighter than a pole pruner for overhead
stuff.  For blackberries, you can cut them off and manipulate the cut
stems without getting anywhere near the pointy bits.

To keep cuttings from resprouting, chop them into short lengths.  I've
heard two feet is short enough, but I'd rather play it safe with less
than a foot (but I only have a few persistent ones to deal with). It
also helps if you can stack the cut off stems off the ground until
fully dried and dead, at which point they make a good compost heap
additive--the stiff stems can help air get into the pile.   A
chicken-wire hammock or old pallets are useful for the drying.  A
friend of mine with a bigger but still not enormous problem sends them
still green through a little electric chipper, and they compost quickly.

For big patches, you could use a brush cutter, then follow up with
goats to keep the new sprouts down.  It is possible to rent goats for
this!  But if the underlying soil is still in good condition, and if
there's a chance of a native seed bank, the goats may do more harm than

If you have a big patch and aren't in a tearing hurry to get it done
(i.e. years is ok), Eric Maia of the King County Noxious Weed Board has
observed that bitter cherry seems to be able to outcompete them.
Possibly simply by outgrowing them and shading them out, but there
could also be some underground chemistry going on.  If anyone tries it,
he'd like to hear about the results.  Once the blackberries are gone,
you could either keep the bitter cherries and under-plant them with
shade tolerant natives, or cut them down and replace them with
different sun lovers.  The wood apparently isn't much good for human
purposes, but if you let the trunks get big enough, they'd make decent
short-lived snags, and the dead logs should be a fine thing for growing
red huckleberries and licorice ferns, which need decaying wood.  Birds
(and raccoons, drat 'em) like decaying logs, too--lots of juicy grubs.
Allyn Weaks    allyn at tardigrade.net     Seattle, WA  Sunset zone 5
Pacific NW Native Wildlife Gardening: http://www.tardigrade.org/natives/
"A proud member of the Reality-Based Community"

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