Mechanical Control

This control approach involves hand or machine removal of interfering plants. Mechanical control practices generally involve cutting the target plant.
Mechanical Control - Articles

Updated: August 8, 2017

Mechanical Control

Manual control involves physically pulling plants. Hand pulling is practical for small isolated infestations and individual plants. Pulling works best on annuals and biennials that will not resprout from root fragments. Hand pulling is not practical for large infestations of perennial weeds and shrubs with extensive root systems which can resprout.

To remove all or most of the root system pull plants when soil moisture is high. This helps prevent resprouting from root fragments. Also, to prevent further spread, pull plants before seeds mature. Keep soil disturbance to a minimum so that other plants do not invade the site.

To control interfering plants, mechanical removal uses tools or machinery. Many weeding tools are available. Mechanical control also involves using loppers and power equipment to cut interfering plants. For larger infestations specialized brush mowing equipment is available. Cutting interfering plants removes their competitive height advantage. When done repeatedly and often, cutting can deplete stored root reserves eventually starving the plant. Cutting at the proper time of year can also prevent seed production. In many instances, cutting or mowing alone is ineffective as many plants respond by producing large numbers of vigorous sprouts. However, mowing may be the only way to start controlling dense infestations of multiple woody interfering plants.

Mechanical Control Practices

The following is a list of manual/mechanical practices used in the forest for controlling interfering plants.

Hand pull or dig individual plants and small infestations when first discovered. For complete root removal pull plants when soil moisture is high.

  • Pull trees and shrubs using a Weed Wrench. This tool uses a lever action to pull roots from the soil.


Hand pulling or using a tool such as a Weed Wrench can be effective when removing individual plants or small infestations. The invasive shrub honeysuckles are generally easy to pull. For complete root removal pull plants when soil moisture is high.

Periodically cut woody interfering plants using loppers, power saws, and/or weed whackers. To reduce root reserves and remove the competitive advantage make first cutting in early summer immediately following full leaf out.

Regular mowing of fields and meadows can prevent interfering plants from invading and becoming established.

  • Repeated mowing throughout the growing season for several years may eventually deplete plant nutrient reserves.

Tilling and discing a site can help to remove weeds from the soil by slicing roots and burying seeds. Late fall tilling can kill roots by exposing them to winter frosts. A word of caution: cultivation, unless done periodically, may provide a seed bed for new invasions and can spread infestations by transporting root segments on equipment.

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