Get access

Composting One Invasive Species to Control Another


H. E. Lintz, email


The need for research and development of effective approaches to weed control continues to increase globally. Adaptive protocols using diverse control methods are often required in ecological restoration as recruitment of native species is highly site-specific, species-specific, and experimental. The use of composted weed refuse to control other weeds may be a practical option; yet, the option is not well studied due to the accompanied risk of introducing weed propagules to areas where weed control is desired. Here, we tested the effectiveness of different physical control techniques including the use of mulch made by composting weed refuse on-site. English ivy (Hedera helix), a non-native, invasive species in the Pacific northwestern United States, was removed from a heavily invaded site, shredded, and composted. The mulch was compared with other methods of suppressing herb Robert (Geranium robertianum), another invasive species on-site. Five treatments were tested: flame-weeding, hand-pulling, mulching, hand-pulling followed by mulching, and flame-weeding followed by mulching. The mulch and pull/mulch treatments were the most effective, reducing G. robertianum cover by 92 and 86% of pre-treatment levels, respectively, and suppressing G. robertianum 2.9 and 1.6 times more than the control, respectively. The mechanism behind the effectiveness of the mulch is uncertain, but may be related to weed seed burial or the allelopathic potential of the mulch. Composting one invasive species to use as mulch to control another can be effective and merits trial elsewhere.