Stuff.co.nz recently put out a good article about the problem hedgehogs pose to our native birds and invertebrates. It touched on peoples attitudes towards hedgehogs and that whilst they may cause less problems in urban spaces (yes - this is quite debatable too!), by allowing their growth and spread in any space, we cause more problems in our wild spaces. This got me thinking about the problems we all inadvertently create with pests in our own back gardens. If we think about how pests spread, we soon realise our own individual contribution to the weed problem.
Hedgehogs can be challenging to eliminate, not least because there is no national strategy for hedgehogs, but when they are allowed to breed, populations expand and cause huge damage. Weeds are much the same in our back gardens, where we let them grow and spread, they produce seeds which travel easily on wind, car tyres, stormwater and more spreading into our parks, reserves, forests and open spaces. They can also produce rhizomes which enable them to travel quickly. We grow them as houseplants and throw out cuttings in the compost and rubbish - they still grow well there too! If they didn't spread easily, they probably wouldn't be considered pests.
Old man beard is a good example of a currently flowering pest. It is self fertile and produces copious seed which are dispersed by water and wind and can remain viable in the seed bank for up to ten years. We may not all have time to volunteer with community groups or get out into parks, reserves and conservation spaces to help with clearing of weeds, but we can all take a small amount of time to remove weeds from our own gardens, reduce the seed bank and can help to reduce our own contribution the spread of weeds. If we don’t remove weeds our own gardens, we will contributing to the ongoing problem in our wider, open spaces. Do you have a old man’s beard in your back garden, or front garden, or Tradescantia, or agapanthus, or ivy...the list goes on and on. To check out some more weeds to watch out for, have a look at the list on the weedbusters website they also have some great guides on things to plant instead of weeds - or download the guide for your region from the list below: