Sep 122011

I live in one of the states in the US kudzu belt – Georgia. Kudzu is a native southeast Asian vine and it is a menace. It smothers all in its path and is powerful enough to uproot trees.

Invasive plant and weed control is very important to both the commercial grower and the home gardener. With the advent of commercial olive growing in the kudzu belt, it is essential to look at advice on controlling invasive plants and weeds. Georgia and Florida are new to larger scale commercial olive growing and have specific invasive plant and weed control problems, and potential new problems, especially whenever a new crop is introduced.

Here is some advice from California plant activist, Susan Mason, which was printed on, a Northern California online news magazine. Ms. Mason’s article has some California-specific advice but is full of universal good practices.

Invasive Plant Control, by Susan Mason

What should a gardener know before he/she starts to remove weeds?

• Identify what weeds you have and learn how each weed reproduces and spreads.
• Decide whether your goal is to eradicate, control or maintain the weed population.
• Based on that knowledge, decide how and when to remove specific weeds. Plan ahead so you’re not facing a huge weeding project just as you’re going on vacation.
• Prioritize your weed removal based on what you’ve learned about its reproduction and prevalence. Generally, work on small infestations first and then the larger areas. However, the number of seeds produced by an individual plant and the seed viability and longevity should also be considered.
• Try to identify new weeds while they’re small.
• When possible, remove weed before plant sets seed to reduce future populations. If not possible, try to contain seeds either by covering the plant with plastic, or hand-picking and collecting the seed in sealed plastic bags, before pulling, cutting or moving the whole plant, which will only spread the seeds.
• The California Invasive Plant Council ( is a great resource for plant identification, control methods, and training.


• Use tarping and mulches to reduce or eliminate weeding—cardboard is a great, free weed barrier in our Mediterranean climate and can even survive occasional rains; large pieces are available at bike and motorcycle shops, appliance stores.
• Keep buckets and gardening gloves around the yard to make it easy to do short weeding sessions.
• Use the right tool for the job and make sure it’s sharp (if it’s supposed to be). If possible, invest in higher-quality tools which work better and last many times longer than cheap tools.
• There are specialized tools for specific types of weed removal that can save time and reduce the effort of weeding.
• Buy tools with colored handles, wrap colored electrical tape on handles or paint handles to make it easier to find misplaced tools. Ditto for gardening gloves.
• Fiberglass tool handles last longer, but don’t have the shock-absorption characteristics of wood. Therefore, they’re good for shovels, not so good for axes and Pulaskis.
• Work with your neighbors to eliminate weed sources.

Avoid spreading invasive plants:

• Don’t accidentally spread weed seeds—wash equipment after working in or driving through weedy area, change clothing and shoes or remove weed seeds before moving to new area, work in weed-free areas first.
• Don’t plant invasive plants. See Don’t Plant a Pest brochure (link in main article at bottom) for the horticultural plants that are the most invasive locally and for alternatives to plant that will not get out of control in your garden.
• Don’t dump grass clippings, yard waste, aquarium waste, or seeds and cuttings of horticultural plants in public open space areas or waterways. Not only is it generally as illegal as dumping trash, it can smother the native plants, increase bank erosion on creeks, and spread invasive plants to new locations.
• Be especially careful when gardening or working near waterways. To remove large items from a creekside, could increase erosion. To accidentally drop seed heads in a waterway will increase their dispersal and subsequent damage exponentially. If you are not sure, get advice from an authoritative source.

Here is the link to the entire article by Jennifer Jewell, “What to Do About Weeds, With Invasive Plant Activist, Educator Susan Mason“. This is a must read. It has great resources.

May the sun shine through your branches.