Why Use Herbicide?
Invasive species are a big problem for natural areas. An invasive plant is generally defined as any plant that is more aggressive than the high-quality native species and pushes those plants out over time. TLC tries to use any method other than herbiciding whenever possible.
For biennial weeds (those that have a two-year life-cycle), we use mowing, pulling, and burning to help reduce the populations with good success. It typically takes several years of effort to eliminate a biennial invasive plant because there is usually a build up of seeds in the soil that need to be exhausted.
Perennial (effectively permanent) weeds are a different story. Because of their deep root systems, it is almost impossible to eradicate a perennial by digging the plant up. Any method that would kill a perennial, like consistent mowing or using a shade cloth, also damages the native plants. Invasive weeds need consistent, well-timed treatments over several years to successfully eradicate them, and TLC is managing over 200 acres!
This is why we use herbicides, always taking care to use the smallest amount and safest alternative available that will eliminate the weeds.
This year TLC is creating an herbicide alternative plot at the Community Research Forest to look into other methods, and anyone is welcome to help by attending our monthly workday there! We care deeply about the health of this planet, and hope that over time new technology will be available that will reduce our use of herbicides.