Nature Photography

Photo Essay: Battling Buffelgrass

So, there you are, trying to do the right thing. You go to all the trouble of controlling the weeds on your property, then there it is: Buffelgrass.

According to the Southern Arizona Buffelgrass Coordination Center, “[R]apid spread of buffelgrass and conversion of fire-resistant desert to flammable grassland rivals urban growth and water as the region’s most pressing environmental issue. Buffelgrass has introduced a new wildfire risk into an ecosystem that is not fire adapted. It grows in dense stands, crowds out native plants, and negatively impacts native wildlife species and their habitat.”

Buffelgrass is an invasive species, and it’s one that we need to control before it destroys the ecosystem on which we depend. This post shows what you can do if you find yourself face-to-face with buffelgrass.

First thing to do is identify it. Buffelgrass grows in bright green clumps, and it looks like it has bottlebrushes on the ends of its stems. Lots of seeds in those bottlebrushes.

Here’s buffelgrass, invading my neighborhood…

Nature photography - buffelgrass growing in street, Tucson, Arizona

Now that we’ve fingered the culprit, let’s prevent it from spreading its noxious self around the neighborhood. Since the above plant is growing out of a gap between a public street and a curb, we can’t dig it out with a caliche bar. Too much risk of damaging municipal property.

Instead, let’s chop that buffelgrass down as far as we can, then spray the remnants with a glyphosate product like Roundup or a generic equivalent…

Nature photography - buffelgrass chopped and sprayed, Tucson, Arizona

Prefer to use a more organic approach? Try BurnOut. Or, if that’s too rich for your budget, white vinegar. You may need to apply several doses, but guess what? That’s often the case with the glyphosates or BurnOut…

Once the remnants are brown and dry, you can use a hand weeder to dig them out. Then you can trash them, just like the chopped buffelgrass…

Nature photography - buffelgrass chopped and ready for the garbage can, Tucson, Arizona

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