- January 26, 2022
Your Habitat Management Plan should include an inventory of current desirable and undesirable trees, shrubs, and vines on your property. Additionally, include a listing of those new trees, shrubs, and vines you would like to add – including how and where you want to plant them. As an early step in your action plan, you
Your Habitat Management Plan should include an inventory of current desirable and undesirable trees, shrubs, and vines on your property.
Additionally, include a listing of those new trees, shrubs, and vines you would like to add – including how and where you want to plant them. As an early step in your action plan, you need to address the issue of invasive plants and how to eliminate them on your property. Some of this work can be accomplished throughout the winter months while there is snow on the ground to aid in seeing the plants to eradicate, and things like spraying and other herbicide application will have to wait until spring or summer.
Eliminating the Invasive Plants:
Over the years, government agencies and well-intended organizations have offered free seedlings of autumn olive, Tartarian honeysuckle, barberry, and multiflora rose to be planted for wildlife habitat improvement.
Since their introduction, each of these species has spread, sometimes completely taking over fallow fields and forest openings.
Today, each one of these species is listed as a non-native invasive plant that should be eradicated wherever possible.
Over the next few months, while snow is on the ground and before grasses and other vegetation push up, these invasive plants are easily spotted wherever they pop up in fields or along field edges.
As we get into the summer months, the ground will harden, making it more difficult to mechanically remove some of the larger and more mature plants; thus, spraying may be a better option.
Further, once these undesirable plants are removed, you can plant new shrubs and trees that will provide much better wildlife cover and feed.
If the plants are small enough, mowing them with a brush hog will keep them in check and, over time, begin to eliminate them altogether. If the plants are larger and have developed a larger woody stem, they may be removable with the use of a chain or cable and ATV or tractor to pull them out. If they are really large and otherwise unmanageable, you will probably have to resort to chemicals to eliminate them.
The most effective way to clear out the large invasive plants is to cut them off at the base or trunk at ground level and apply a small amount of Roundup or Garlon 4 on the stump. It takes very little of the herbicide to stop any future growth and kill the plant. While I hesitate to recommend chemical treatments, the use of these herbicides is very effective as a last resort in killing each of the invasive species we are trying to eliminate. While the majority of these invasive species will be found in field settings or along forest edges, they can also be found and should be eliminated in woodland settings as well.
Stripped Maple and Hay-Scented Fern:
Finally, there are two undesirable species of plants frequently found in the woods and along field edges that we should turn our attention to that should be a target for elimination – the striped maple and the New York or hay-scented fern. Spraying the ferns with Roundup – particularly in July and August is very effective. For the striped maple, in the springtime, as their growing season is beginning, make a nick in the outer bark of the tree with a hatchet or machete and apply two or three drops of Garlon 4 in the opening. It will kill the tree. Between the striped maple and the New York or hay-scented fern, the fern is the more critical to eliminate as it emits a toxin wherever it grows that restricts other plants from growing, and it has no real food or cover value for wildlife.
Elimination of these invasive and encroaching plants is a critical first step in any habitat improvement plan. Once they are eliminated, you can turn your attention to developing food plots, creating better field conditions for wildlife, and establishing valuable plantings of shrubs, trees, and vines that will benefit wildlife of all kinds more adequately. Next time, we’ll look at some of the particular species that will thrive in our area and what improvements should work for you.