Tom's Blog

Monday, November 2, 2009

Control of brush along a stone wall

At Black Earth Rettenmund Prairie we have a nice stone wall on the west side of the property. This is a hand-built wall that was constructed by our neighbor from stones he found on his ag field. The wall is really a cultural feature of the prairie and is something we want to preserve and protect.

For that reason, we have always kept it from getting black when we burn that area. We wet down a strip next to the wall, and the wall itself, so that flames don't reach it. (See photo below)

One problem with protecting the wall is that the brush that inevitably grows is not killed, so eventually a rather nasty brush border develops, on both sides of the wall. All sorts of brush was present, including honeysuckle, buckthorn, sumac, and brambles.

Yesterday our volunteer work party dealt with this brush border. One person operated a Stihl brush cutter and five of us followed along with spray bottles of Garlon 4 in oil. This is the best herbicide to use, because it works on all the various species, and the herbicide penetrates the bark of the cut stem as well as entering through the open cut itself.

With a group of people treating, it is virtually ensured that all cut stems will be treated. One or two people follow close after the brush cutter and treat the most obvious stems (usually the largest) whereas several others trail behind and do "mop-up".

It took us about an hour to deal with the whole area, after which we collected seeds for the rest of the afternoon. The weather was mostly sunny and pleasant.


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