Got Weeds? Getting help from Fireweed Ecological Services LLC

March 26, 2022

Got Weeds?

Get help from Fireweed Ecological Services!

Musk Thistle (Carduus nutans) infestation in Jefferson County

When you contact me…

Expect the following:

I will get in touch with you, within days (by email or phone) to:

  • Discuss your particular weed issue, what your concerns are, and what help you may need to remedy the situation. I will field any questions you may have and point you to useful resources as needed. 
  • Consider a free on-site consultation and assessment by Fireweed Ecological Services, should it be appropriate and desired.

At the onsite consultation…

This is a joint venture:

We will meet together on your property (for an hour or so), to

  • Consider the big picture - Where might the weeds be coming from? Are there past (or ongoing) disturbances from building projects or forestry operations that are at the root of the weed issue?
  • Determine the nature and extent of your weed issue during this assessment - are noxious weeds (legally requiring control) involved, and what varieties? Is it an isolated patch, or are they widespread? How quickly might they respond to treatment, and of what sort? 
  • Recommend ways your weeds can be dealt with, depending upon the types of weed and how well-established they are. Some of these you may be able to implement yourself, while others you may prefer to engage a professional outfit (such as Fireweed ES) to carry out for you.

The nature of the work….

You need to know:

Weed management, by its very nature, is not an exact science. The very tenacity of weeds usually keeps them coming back for a few years (or more), even once a control regimen is in place. 

  • Seedy weeds that reproduce and spread by seed will already have a reservoir of seed in the soil that may sprout in future years. Preventing both new seed-set and existing seed germination is needed for control.
  • Rooty weeds that persist from year to year via a network of roots underground will not be fazed simply by having their tops removed. Control methods targeting their roots are essential.

Several seasons, and a variety of control methods, are typically needed to effectively manage a broad spectrum of weeds.

The goal…

Not a quick fix, but worth it:

Re-establishing an intact and healthy cover of native or desirable plants where there was previously weedy disorder is our ultimate desire for your property. Getting this natural cover in place will help to:

  • Prevent new weed seeds reaching the soil and keep existing weed seeds buried and inactive
  • Crowd out any weed seeds that do germinate and provide stiff competition to perennial weeds so their root systems are weakened.

Providing an aesthetically pleasing landscape with superior habitat for wildlife including pollinators, insects and birds will be an additional benefit from restoring your native vegetation.

The steps involved…

It takes both:

Restoring land to a healthy state involves two steps which may happen at the same time, or in sequence, and can take several years to fully complete. 

  • Weed control: Eradicating (or suppressing) noxious and nuisance weeds already present (and preventing further invasion from outside). 
  • Native habitat restoration: Establishing (or re-invigorating) a sward of native/desirable plants. This may involve identifying any initial (and preventing any further) disturbance, and then replanting with native grasses and forbs. 

I am skilled and experienced in the former type of work (weed control), and am willing to help you address the latter (native habitat restoration) as I continue to expand my expertise in this area through research and collaboration with others in the field.

The methods to use…

A variety is good:

Integrated weed management involves a combination of techniques carried out at various stages of a weed’s life-cycle:

  • Physical methods such as pulling or digging up young plants before flowering, or cutting and bagging seedheads, may work well for small discrete infestations of seedy short-lived weeds (common mullein, musk thistle, diffuse knapweed). Physically removing weeds, however, disturbs the soil and may cause further seed germination the next season, so the pulling will need to continue until the seedbank is exhausted. Mowing weeds may delay flowering or help deplete root reserves (Canada thistle and leafy spurge), but others will just set seed in a dwarf state (cheatgrass, redstem filaree). 
  • Biological methods using a weed’s natural enemies (such as insects, mites, fungi or viruses) may work well, once established, in curbing extensive infestations of specific weeds, but will not eliminate them nor typically work well on smaller patches. 
  • Cultural methods such as adding soil amendments, changing watering regimes, mulching, or reseeding a disturbed area with native or other suitable plants to reduce a weed’s competitive advantage are often a valuable component in managing weeds.
  • Chemical methods involving herbicides are a tried and tested way of control, especially for certain hard-to-eliminate weeds. They must be used judiciously and according to label directions to avoid damage to surrounding vegetation. However, in the hands of a trained applicator, they are very effective and cause minimal disruption to anything other than the targeted weed. 
  • Pre-emergent herbicides can be used successfully in preventing seed germination for multiple years (cheatgrass). 
  • Post-emergent herbicides can be spot-applied or broadcast to kill or control select weeds at specific times of year (thistles, knapweed, toadflax, bindweed). 

If you want me to do the work…

I am happy to help:

We will need to exchange some paperwork, so I will follow up with you by email after the on-site visit. The recommended management will typically involve two (or more) visits for up to three years initially so we need to have a long-range plan.

  • A scope of work/contract will be drawn up detailing the work to be done and the timeframe. The contract will give me permission to access your property, an estimate of the time taken per visit (which will decrease after the first few visits as we gain control over the weeds) and give the fee  (approximately $80/hr, plus mileage if not local) for my services. We both sign and exchange copies of this contract .
  • I will send my day’s proposed plan of work in advance (by email) if I expect to be applying herbicides on your property. It will detail (as required by the Colorado Department of Agriculture) what herbicides I may need to use. I will include links to the labels for these chemicals should you want to check them out in advance.

I am fully insured and licensed (by the CDA) to make herbicide applications on your Colorado property.

While I’m working on-site…

Keep the pets in!

I will bring all my equipment and supplies with me. I add a blue dye (food coloring, basically) to my backpack spray mix so you and I can both see where I have sprayed. Once the spray has dried (typically in 15-20 minutes) it is not considered to be a hazard to humans, pets or wildlife. Access to additional water may be required for larger projects (via an outside spigot or hose). I will bring a short length of hose with me.

You do not need to be at home or present while I work, but are welcome to come out and check on what’s going on. I will place a yellow flag at the entrance to your property (as required by the Colorado Department of Agriculture), detailing any herbicides applied, their signal word (hazard level), and date of application to inform you and your neighbors.

Follow up after a visit…

All in the loop:

I will email you a work record within a few days of my visit, detailing what work was done, using what control methods, and on what noxious (and nuisance) weeds. There will be links in the document to the noxious weeds managed (and any herbicides applied).

I will send you an invoice for that work session, to be paid by check and made out to Fireweed Ecological Services within 30 days of the date of the invoice.

Ongoing through the year….

Keep an eye out:

I will email you reminders to set up a visit by Fireweed Ecological Services as we approach the beginning of a new season of weed management. 

Notification of useful information added to my website will be sent out (with your consent) with a link to the relevant page (such as a blog post or resource link) if I believe it may be of help or interest to you.