Sunday, May 20, 2012

Cutting the Garlic Mustard

A few weeks ago I noticed that the ‘woods’ along our property line were really overgrown with weeds.  This area is full of various trees, shrubs, and plants; some healthy and some not so healthy.  When we moved in almost four years ago the area was already overgrown and we didn’t really do much to it since then.  We liked the natural look (to an extent) but mostly liked the privacy it gave us from the neighbors and the busy street behind us.  We knew at some point we would have to do something about it as many of the trees were growing into the power lines and just generally looked bad.  The super infestation of weeds prompted us to think about a HUGE landscaping project. 

We discovered that the weeds that are taking over are garlic mustard; an invasive plant that out competes native plants.  Garlic mustard has a two year life cycle.  In the first year the plants are small and low to the ground.  In the second year they are much larger, flower, and produce many, many seeds.  This year is the second year for our crop.  We realized we needed to get busy and try and pull out all of these weeds before they go to seed or else we’ll have bigger problems in the years to come.  What a pain in the butt!  It’s nearly impossible to maneuver under and around the pine trees without poking an eye out.  I carried a tick into the house after pulling the weeds.  Gross!  And we’ve discovered how many dead, leafless branches there are and how much larger our lot could be if these ‘woods’ weren’t there.  It really seemed like a huge undertaking.

We contemplated hiring someone to clear cut this area, get a fence, and plant grass and some new bushes.  However, we've already made a huge dent in the area ourselves.  We pulled and weed whacked the weeds
(disposing of them in the regular garbage so as not to spread the seeds in the cities compost), trimmed up many of the dead branches and cut down some spindley trees.  Next we will apply some weed killer to kill any garlic mustard we missed as well as any other weeds that are there.  Then hopefully we can clean out the remaining leaves, pinecones, and other brush.  It will never be a completely manicured area, but it's a lot cheaper than hiring someone to clear cut.  Plus, I was feeling guilty about tearing down all the bird hideouts and homes!
This is what the plant looks like after we tried killing it with some weed killer!

The dirt area was filled with garlic mustard.

Trimming the dead branches of the pine trees.

Thick with garlic mustard.

This whole area was covered with it!  And who knew we had more land back there?

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