How Healthy Plant Communities Help Prevent or Control Weeds.

What is revegetation?  Revegetation is building up a site or plant community to strengthen its natural defenses, preventing weeds or other foreign invaders from entering.  This is a fairly effective method in fighting weeds.  While it may not work in a short time, it may not even work in a long time, but over time it can be effective.  Having a healthy native plant community can do wonders on an area of weed infestation.  What it does is it makes the weed fight to stay alive and with this method the weed does not always win the fight. (3)  The newly sprouting weed gets moved in on by all these other plants and there are just too many plants competing with it for the weed to live.  To stay alive the plant must fight for water and sunlight.  Since in a healthy plant community you put so many good plants in an area, the weed can not get enough water and it can not get enough sunlight. (1-3)  Healthy plant communities basically just put the weed on the run and eventually it dies out.  Then in its place you have a beautiful healthy plant community that has not only just taken out a weed, it will keep the weeds out of that area as long as your community is healthy.  Your mission of taking out the weed is over and you can be proud that you have won the battle with the weeds. (1-5)

Where Revegetation Is Headed In The Near Future

While many people continue to spray herbicides to fight off their weeds, they often overlook the existing "defenses" already present. (4)  The existing plant community may be a more effective long term weed fighting tool.  Now, when we have to make decisions we have to base them on ecological principles and also economic ones. (1)  There are long-term steps needed for revegetation to be successful.  Land use objectives have to be developed to make land management decisions. (1,5)  Once that is accomplished an integrated weed management plan can get started. (4)  The development of knowledge about revegetation as a weed fighting strategy is making progress everyday.  People are starting to figure out that certain kinds of healthy plant communities can fight off certain types of weeds, better then others can. (2)

 Revegetation Advice

There are several key points in the revegetation process.  One good point is that you should focus on having a very good healthy plant community and not just killing the weed itself. (2,5)  Having a good healthy plant community will be able to stop weeds much more effectively then having a non healthy plant community (such as one that is over grazed or has been sprayed with herbicides that kill all the forbs and leave only the grasses, thus an incomplete plant community).  When you have a healthy plant community it will keep away the weeds and you will not even know its doing it.  Getting rid of the weed is a good and very successful first step, but it is not the most important.  To keep the weeds away you are going to have to maintain a very lively and healthy plant community.  That is probably one of the best if not the best point of revegetation.  Getting rid of the weed is a secondary key point.  (2)
Different Ways to Revegetate

There are a couple ways you can go about revegetation.  One way is transplanting, transplanting is taking another desirable plant species and putting it in the area to reproduce more of itself and spread throughout the area. (2&5)  Then when it is spreading over the area it is taking over and also is getting rid of that noxious weed.  Many people prefer this method over other methods because it is easier to do.  Transplants have been very affective in the Missoula County, Montana region. 

The second way you could revegetate an area is to seed it with beneficial plants.  Seeding can be a very good method.  The bad part about seeding is it can hard to establish the desired plants without the weeds.  Seeding is a basic project you seed the type of plant you want to grow in that area.  Research seed mixes, seeding methods and timing carefully.  When you seed you want to make sure there are very few resources available to the weeds.  When the weeds have nothing to live off of they will not survive. (2&5)
Making Revegetation Stronger

One thing that helps to make your plant community strong is to have not just one plant, but several plants. (2)  You do not just want to throw out a single punch. (3)   You need to plant as many species of native/desirable plants as possible, and a good mix of grasses and forbes. (3)  Contact your local extension agent about using different seeding methods and different seeding rates.  There are also quite a few other methods of taking these pesky weeds out of an area. (5)  When you combine two or more methods you have a better chance of success.  Putting methods together will make your revegetation plan even stronger. (2,5)

Other Links

Sources Cited
(1) Dean Marietta, Dan Satlzman." Watershed Revegetation Program". 17-03-2004 <www.clean>.

(2) Roger L. Sheley, Tony J. Svejcar, Bruce D. Maxwell, James S. Jacobs. Healthy Plant Communities. 07 1999. 17-03-2004 <>.

 (3) Carol Flaherty. You Need A Good Combination Punch for the War on Weeds. 6/97. 17-03-2004 <>.

(4) Pokorny, Monica. Holt, Denver. Tryon, Paul. Denny, Kirk. Spang, Terry. "Revegetation." Revegetation with a Vision.  14 Oct. 2003.

(5) Inyo County Water Department staff . "Revegetation." Revegetation Methods.

Written by: Justin Mabbott and Ty Nelson, 4/2004. HOME