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Mechanical Control

Mechanical control involves the removal of plants by force, which may be accomplished either manually or with a mechanical device. There are a variety of mechanical methods that can be used for invasive species removal. The choice of which mechanical method is best for a particular situation depends on the site location and condition, the site status (e.g., wilderness designation), the target species, soil texture, and other environmental conditions. Pulling Pulling refers to using hands or simple implements (e.g., shovel, digging bar or Pulaski) to uproot plants. Pulling works best for:

  • small infestations that can be pulled one patch at a time;
  • annual and biennial plants (although seed banks will remain for some time);
  • shallow-rooted plant species that do not respond from any residual roots;
  • plants growing on sandy or gravelly soils;
  • situations where chemicals, motorized equipment, or livestock can not be used or are undesirable; and
  • eliminating or reducing seed production in small infestations.

Mowing and Cutting Mowing and cutting employ mechanical or hand tools to sever the above ground portion of a plant from its roots. Mowing and cutting work best for:

  • large, relatively flat and dry areas that can be mowed with few safety or equipment concerns;
  • preventing tall, erect biennial species from setting seed when other control techniques are not feasible;
  • weakening invasive species by depleting root and rhizome reserves through repeated mowing;
  • large-scale restorations where invasive species need to be controlled during the first growing season or two; and
  • relatively small areas where adequate labor is available.

Pulling is an effective control method that can be employed year-round on most sites to control buffelgrass infestations. Of course, pulling is easiest when the soil is moist and temperatures are cool, making the late fall, winter, and early spring months the favored times for this method in Southern Arizona. Mowing as a stand-alone treatment for buffelgrass control is not recommended, as it is likely to further the spread of the grass.