Weeds strongly compete with your planting material for water, light and nutrients, so their
elimination is essential. Shallow cultivation is recommended for weed control until planting.
First Year: Disturb the soil as little as possible. Cut off large weeds with shears to avoid seed drop.
Second Year: In the spring, mow and rake off plant debris. If weeds persist, mow again in late spring or early summer but not after the plants have reached a height of one foot or more (could harm nesting birds).
Third Year: A prescribed burning schedule can begin in early or mid-spring. Rotational burning of one-third to one-half of the area annually is recommended to preserve wildlife. If burning is not an option, mow at low setting and rake off plant debris in mid-spring. Seek professional help, if you are not familiar with the techniques and safety issues. No students should participate in the burn.
Wetlands: Occasional prescribed burning of dry areas in wetlands in late fall or early spring is of benefit to the plant community and thus to the wildlife. One-third to one-half of the emergent plants (grasses, sedges, cattails) can be burned annually, avoiding the spring and fall waterfowl migrations and the summer nesting season.
Trees, Shrubs and Bulbs:
Removal of weeds is recommended. Hand-pulling is preferred, being careful not to disturb developing root systems. Landscape cloth is not recommended. It is better to cover the area with four to six pages of newspaper (to block out the light) and top off with several inches of mulch. Do not use herbicide. Chemical drift could seriously damage your plants and harm wildlife. Prescribed burning of woodlands is of benefit, although only half of the woodland should be burned at any one time and not during nesting season.