What is a Weed?
What is a weed?
A straight forward question with not such a straight forward answer.
According to the Australian Department of Environment and Climate,
A weed is any plant that requires some form of action to reduce its effect on the economy, the environment, human health and amenity.
Weeds are among the most serious threats to Australia's natural environment and primary production industries. They displace native species, contribute significantly to land degradation, and reduce farm and forest productivity.
So we have classes of noxious weed, determined by the authorities, that are required to be removed by local councils, bush care groups etc, that is quite clear, we can access the national weed list and act accordingly.
We also have, in our own gardens, that constant struggle of controlling Dandelions, Lantana, Asparagus fern, the list goes on.., but what about natives.
Not all weeds are exotic species, a lot of the time we are offering the opportunity for a native species to also become a weed, when we plant them in an area they were not originally from. Sometimes these 'foreign' plants are stronger, more vigorous and have the advantage over the local species, in every state in Australia there has been, or still is, a native plant invasion.
We often think we are doing the 'right' thing planting natives, we see a beautiful plant in a nursery...but
Sometimes we could be doing more harm than good.
So why aren't the nurseries policed so they are not selling a potential weed?
Reality is, It is impossible! Nowadays we ship plants of all shapes and sizes all over the country and it is just a case of supply and demand. One person in Brisbane buys the fabulous 'new ' Wattle from Western Australia then a few of their friends want one too, and so on, sure enough ten years on we have another invader.
So on top of all of our other environmental responsibilities we have this one too? but really is it that important they are all native after all.
The short answer, YES,
In Australia today weeds are spreading faster than they can be managed this is taking a huge amount of resource and if we cant keep up ultimately we are changing the face of our environment forever.
Ok, so what do I do, do I have to rip everything out of my garden and start again?
No of course not, but have a good look at what you do have in your garden, can you identify the weeds? If you are unsure take a fresh sample to your local nursery or the Botanic gardens in your city, they should be able to identify it for you (there is often a fee).
Research! Before you go to buy from a nursery have a look at your local councils suggested plant list and give Google a crack, there is tons of information out there to be had.
Make sure to purchase non invasive plant species, most nurseries have very well trained staff on hand that can tell you what kind of habit a plant has.
Think about the natural environment and re-creating places for other flora and fauna to exsist, for instance, if you are in a wet tropical area do not try to create a desert like garden , stick to what naturally occurs.
If you really love a plant and just can't live without it but you know it is an invasive species or a weed, keep it in a pot and collect the seed from the plant before it spreads and dispose of it.
Always dispose of weeds appropriately, don't dump garden waste, use your green bin or take it to your local council approved tip.
Use herbicides where necessary but just be mindful, if a product is harmful to bees or other creatures, dont use it! There are many products available today that will not harm the wildlife or maybe even try some homemade recipes.
If you are interested in reading more about the different types of weed and how to control them, there is tons of information on the Austrailan Governments' website just follow this link
But for now, Happy weeding!
The team @ Harvest