Plant Selection Case Study: Invasive Species Management Case Study
Shawn Sinn, Vice President of Land Services, Semper Fi Land Services Inc.
Shawn Sinn's work at Semper Fi Land Services, Inc. stresses ongoing vegetative maintenance to establish new plant communities. Sinn stated, "A freshly cultivated planting bed is a battleground and we want to put our natives in the best position to win the war."
Semper Fi selects control techniques for invasive weeds based on their life cycle. For annual invasive weeds, Semper Fi uses a combination of conservation mowing, selective mowing/cutting and hand pulling. Conservation mowing in the first native plant growing season treats the entire planting area 3-4 times to a height of 8-12 inches. In the second growing season, Semper Fi reduces mowing to 2-3 times. In the third growing season, Semper Fi transitions from conservation mowing to selective mowing spot invasive weed populations that occur. Sinn said that Semper Fi limits hand pulling of weeds, because it can cause unnecessary soil disturbance and pull invasive seeds to the surface.
Biennial invasive species generally allocate their energy to root growth in the first year and flower and seed production in the second year. Sinn recommends similar control techniques for biennials to management of annuals, but biennial invasive management requires conservation mowing for at least two years.
Perennial invasives are the hardest ot manage because they grow, flower and seed each year. Perennials return after mowing, making this control technique ineffective. Semper Fi resorts to selective herbicide application for perennials. Sinn and his team carefully select the correct herbicide product by factoring the type of plant controlled and the weed's location. For example, to manage a common reed or phragmites population in a wetland, Semper Fi will select an aquatic-approved herbicide that mentions control of grasses on its label. Sinn will make sure this herbicide selectively targets the common reed population by using a backpack or all-terrain vehicle pistol sprayer for application. Lastly, the applicator will spray the common reed population at the most effective time in the fall as opposed to the spring or summer.
Semper Fi, also, conducts controlled burns for young, woody invasive weeds, but not for herbaceous weeds that will likely grow back. Sinn recommends annual prescribed burns once the native species have matured enough to carry a fire, which usually occurs after the third growing season. Sinn elaborated, "Fire is a natural process that has many benefits including nutrient release, woody species reduction and can help with native seed germination as well."
Semper Fi typically provides these natural area management and invasive weed control strategies in four to six visits and one prescribed burn. Most of the time, Semper Fi's visits decrease over time as the native plant community matures.
Shawn Sinn presented his efforts to reduce glyphosate use and manage diverse natural ecosystems during the Lawn & Land Forum's "Plant Selection along Shore and Coastlines" in September of 2020. For the full recording of that webinar, please visit bit.ly/MGGsept10recording.