Controlling, managing and eradicating weeds from your block or garden can be a daunting task.
It requires some planning, dedication and patience; however, it is not as difficult as you may think.
The following advice is based on our experience managing a 23 acre block of land. Your circumstances will probably be different and you should tailor your approach appropriately. Nevertheless, the basics of this advice are pertinent whether you have one acre or a thousand - define your strategy and tactics, make yourself a realistic management plan and get stuck in.
As stated above your strategy will be unique for your property but the following steps are universal.
- Identify the weeds you have and map them out.
- Research and experiment with control methods.
- Set short, medium and long term goals.
From our own experience we would also suggest a strategy that 'radiates' from the center of your property outwards: push infestations from areas you control towards the boundaries (which you have less control over ie infestations on neighbouring properties).
Putting your weed strategy into action requires the adoption of day to day and week to week tactics. Here are some ideas:
- Set aside a regular time for your weeding.
- Habitualise the process; make weeding part of your day. Thirty minutes before breakfast and thirty minutes in the evening by two people equals ten hours of pulling, spraying or slashing weeds over five days. Which equals the removal of a lot of weeds!
- Keep your equipment handy - if you make the process difficult it is a lot easier to justify not doing it.
- Wear appropriate clothing and make it your 'weeding' outfit. Old shirts with full length sleeves, heavy duty gardening trousers, covered footwear and good gloves. Wear sunglasses or goggles to avoid being poked in the eye from grass stems. In general, protect yourself from potential scratches, bites and sun burn - don't be a 'hero', you are in this for the long haul.
- Avoid the hottest times of the day.
- Set achievable targets - each session set an achievable area for the time available. Do it and feel good about it.
- Focus on one weed species at a time in an area - if you are pulling it becomes easier for your eye to spot a single species at a time. Over time you will also find that you become more familiar with a particular species over the period of its development. For example, Giant Rat's Tail changes appearance quite dramatically from its early life to when it seeds - spotting it early gives you an advantage.
According to legislation in the Northern Territory (the 1992 Weeds Act) if you have a declared weed on your property then you must have a weed management plan; that is, a specific document that outlines your strategy and tactics for managing the infestation.
A brief drive around any part of the rural area will reveal that most properties suffer from a Gamba and/or Mission Grass infestation (at least). Yet, legal action is rarely (if ever) taken against property holders who take no action against their weeds or do not have a weed management plan.
But, at some point in the near future this must change, probably after there has been a catastrophic bush fire which destroys significant property and claims a few human lives.