It’s that time of year. Many neighbors spend more time outdoors in their yards, and walking along our streets. Rains are rare to sporadic so the gardens we covet need an eyeful watch and some TLC while the ivy and weeds seem to have a life of their own.
How can we do to make our neighborhood the safest and best areas in South Durham?
Neighbors have recently provided some suggestions on outdoor maintenance for thought:
- Control and/or remove invasive plants, particularly English ivy, Virginia creeper and Wisteria. These vines can be controlled but many are rampant and grow uncontrollably along the ground and up trees, eventually smothering them. Ivy in particular smothers native ground covers. Managing ivy will keep it confined and prevent it from growing up tree trunks or utility poles and further into your property or a neighbor’s yard. One means of ridding this ivy is to lay down and securing a black tarp to heat up and smother the ivy. It takes a season or two but works great without the need to pull out the vines or spray herbicides which can cause other environmental damage.
- Remove poison ivy to the greatest extent possible. Also a vine, poison ivy can be cut back and controlled by a careful herbicide brush application. Limit herbicide sprays whenever possible. It grows particularly lush along some roadsides and yards. As most of our streets are without curbs, dogs, children and unsuspecting adults may come into contact. Dogs especially are vulnerable to contact and then their owners by petting the dog then have the well-known skin reaction from a transfer of the potent oil the plant leaves produce. This vine will also grow easily up into trees. If you are working with this vine it is critical to be fully gloved and clothed and when done to shower with warm soapy water as soon as possible after removing the vine. Never burn poison ivy as the oil can become an aromatic that can possibly affect those that come in contact with the smoke.
Not sure you are looking at poison ivy? Some examples can be seen at http://www.carolinanature.com/trees/tora.html
- Non-native Wisteria is a vine that produces attractive purple flowers in the spring however the aggressive vine will cling on to any bush or tree branch as it tries to reach for more sunlight. The end result is that it will smother the host bush or tree. You can see an example of how aggressive the vine can be along the fence line in the Epworth church parking lot. To control sever the vine and apply a brush herbicide for vine control. It may take several seasons to control depending on the vine population. Dead vines would need to be removed from branches.
- Tall grass, weeds, accumulated leaf litter, brush piles and over grown bushes can not only be unsightly but can also provide chiggers (a.k.a. mites) with a breeding ground which love our humid weather this time of year. Chiggers are microscopic so they are not easily seen but their bites are recognizable. The immature chigger will look for a meal of skin by attaching to humans or animals by direct contact or transfer. Chigger bites will itch like crazy because of the saliva they deposit on the skin. Keeping up with yard maintenance especially in shaded areas will help to reduce populations.
If you have other helpful suggestions for outdoor yard management feel free to post in the comments section.