Taming The Cape Cod Jungle

Taming The Cape Cod Jungle

Here’s what’s going on in every yard and garden on Cape Cod: birds light in shrubs and trees, and poop onto the ground below. As they do so, they place seeds for many invasive or wild plants into your garden. Many of those seeds germinate, and before you realize it, your plants are infested with bittersweet, Rosa multiflora, wild grape, green brier, honeysuckle, Virginia creeper and poison ivy. If ignored, these vines and shrubs will cover and choke out your more desirable plants. If left to grow, not only do areas of your property become an impenetrable jungle, but that wild tangle will move out into lawns and beds, making your yard smaller and smaller.

What to do? Fight back, of course!

  1. Inspect your shrubs and trees closely on a regular basis. Look carefully for vines, shrubs or other seedlings that are growing directly under or in your plants. Pull or cut those promptly.
  2. If vines have been allowed to get out of hand, at least cut them off at ground level so the tops die back.
  3. If entire sections of the property have become jungle, you might need professional assistance in clearing it out. Once things are cleared, either maintain with an annual brush-cut, or restore lawns or gardens.

    Here are typical “Cape Cod Jungle” plants: bittersweet vine and Japanese honeysuckle shrubs. No, this honeysuckle is NOT a good plant. If you have it in your yard chances are a bird put it there.

    This photo shows three of our most common thugs: wild grapevine, greenbrier and Rosa multiflora. No, this rose is not a desirable plant, even though the flowers are fragrant. It is one of the plants that will turn your yard into a thorny jungle of unusable land.

    Small weeds can be killed with an organic herbicide, but even though this is made with plant oils it will kill any plant it touches. For the “jungle” hand or machine pulling is best, then smaller things that appear later can be hit with weed killer. 

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