Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Fighting the Good Fight: Eradicate Privet Naturally

Chinese Privet Hedge
The Chinese privet is one case where looks certainly are not everything! Although it is infamously invasive to the southeastern United States, many homeowners choose this species because of the rapid growth, dense foliage, and good looks.

Unfortunately, two out of three of these benefits end up biting the hand that feeds! Chinese privet certainly grows fast and with dense cover – which can quickly overcome a yard and eventually causes a nuisance to the entire neighborhood.

Removal and eradication are known to be all but impossible: it requires dedication, patience, and plenty of manpower. Because this species is exotic to the southeast, there are no pests or plants to keep growth in check.

Beating Back the Bush

The removal process for Chinese privet begins the same as any other shrub: all branches and shoots are to be pruned and removed, with only enough of the stump left to make for a good handle. While some homeowners prefer to chop a few cuts into the stump and apply chemical herbicides, this cannot always be accomplished in sensitive ecosystems or near other valuable plants and trees.

These rough cuts can still be left behind to encourage pests and rot to infect, and eventually kill, the stump. Otherwise, manual removal can be accomplished with standard garden tools, but every piece of root must be removed to prevent new sections from growing. Be aware the privet is still vulnerable to crown root rot – play this card to your advantage!

(Almost) Never-Ending Upkeep

The berries of the invasive Chinese privet carry very little value in terms of nutrition, causing hungry birds to consume more than necessary. These unwitting carriers can spread these seeds for miles! New sprouts will pop up periodically, and must be removed as soon as possible. We have heard of homeowners fighting the privet battle for more than thirty years this way! That’s why many people choose to call in a tree service professional! But if you’re dedicated, privet eradication is possible on a do-it-yourself basis!

Remember that Chinese privet is incredibly fond of disturbed soil: that means that the site of a removed privet stump is just perfect for new shoots! Keep an eye out for any new “volunteers”. If the site of removal is close to established trees, gardens, or building structures consider taking advantage of a local tree care professional to assess the options available.

1 comment:

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