Help pull spring invasive species in Ann Arbor this week

Garlic Mustard Weed Out Week running through Sunday

Help the city of Ann Arbor's Natural Area Preservation by pulling invasive plants this week in your yard and nature areas. (City of Ann Arbor Natural Area Preservation)

ANN ARBOR – The city of Ann Arbor’s Natural Area Preservation is calling on local volunteers to help pull invasive spring plant species as part of a virtual event.

Garlic Mustard Weed Out Week: Pulling Together Separately has officially kicked off and will run through Sunday at sundown.

During normal times, NAP leads regular workdays with hundreds of volunteers in Ann Arbor’s parks and nature areas to protect and restore the natural habitat and foster environmental appreciation among residents. These tasks, led by NAP staff, include ecological monitoring, stewardship projects and taking plant and animal inventories.

Garlic Mustard Weed Out Week is NAP’s first-ever virtual pull event. Volunteers are encouraged to remove spring invasive species from their yards and gardens as well as city-owned nature areas. Each season, aggressive non-native plants spread and outcompete native species, reducing the diversity of native wildlife, including butterflies and small mammals.

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“There is a small seasonal window for targeting these types of invasive plants: warm enough for plants to emerge but not too late or seeds will be spread,” read a news release by NAP. “Even though we are pulling separately we are working together to make Ann Arbor a more beautiful place for everyone!”

Which species should you look out for?

  • Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata)
  • Dame’s rocket (Hesperis matronalis)
  • Narrow-leaf Bittercress (Cardamine impatiens)

Click here for identification details of these plants.

Residents are asked to pull plants on their own or with members from their household. When pulling in public places, volunteers are asked to maintain at least six feet of distance from others.

In accordance with guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, volunteers are asked to follow these safety protocols:

  • Do not touch any plants that have been pulled by someone outside of your household.
  • If you feel sick, stay home.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.

Here are NAP’s instructions on what to bring and how to pull plants:

Bring a tote bag, garbage bag, or other carrying device with you to remove the invasive plants from the park. Dress in long pants thick enough to stand up to thorns, brush, poison ivy, ticks, and mosquitoes (leggings aren’t very protective); closed-toe shoes that can stand up to mud; gardening gloves; a face mask/cover; and clothes you don’t mind getting dirty.

Make sure you pull the entire plant, root and all. If roots are left behind, they can re-sprout in the soil. This time of season, most garlic mustard should be in bloom. Once the plants are pulled, place them into a garbage bag or other bag you have at home. Once your bag(s) are filled, take them home for proper disposal:

  • City-collected compost bin.
  • City-collected trash bin.
  • Call NAP if either of the options above does not work for you.
  • Do NOT place these plants in home compost piles – those do not get hot enough to kill weed seeds!

Here are NAP’s tips on general field safety:

  • If you’re stopping to pull plants, enjoy the birds, wildflowers, or just the beautiful weather – watch your footing, try not to trample vegetation, and carefully move 6 feet off the trail to allow other park users to pass at a safe distance.
  • Be aware of uneven footing, rocks, slopes, and slippery terrain. Keep an eye out for branches, thorns, and fallen trees caught in the canopy (don’t stand under them!) · Familiarize yourself with Poison Ivy. Please refer to Michigan State University’s poison ivy web page for more details.
  • Check yourself for ticks within 24 hours of leaving the park (or your yard!) We have a variety of tick species here in Washtenaw County, including the black-legged tick that can transmit Lyme Disease. Be aware of insects when in the field: bees, wasps, mosquitoes, etc. Use bug spray.
  • Stay inside if there is a thunderstorm or heavy winds. But it’s OK to come on out if it is just raining!
  • Stay hydrated and protected from the sun. Bring a water bottle with you and consider sunscreen. Do not overexert yourself. Have fun!

After you’ve pulled the plants, report your efforts to the Stewardship Network Spring Invasive Species Challenge. When doing so, enter NAP in the “Affiliation” box and include the name of the park, nature area of address where you pulled.

“By reporting how much you’ve pulled, you help us to not only see our collective impact across the globe, but also to track these important ecological practices closely here in Ann Arbor,” said NAP officials in a press release.

Are you on social media? Use the hashtag #GMWOW when posting photos of your efforts.

For more information, visit the virtual event’s website.

About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.