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There is an area of approximately 6,000 square feet that is full of mugwort. We would like to restore some native vegetation, but as the area is adjacent to a pond, I don't want to use herbicides in controlling the mugwort.

We are at the eastern end of Long Island in New York. Although we do not have a detailed land use history, most of the area was farmed until the past 30 years or so. Soil in the area is a silty loam.

We plan to till and overseed with a warm season native grass mix, but expect mugwort to come back in. What are some things we can do to prevent that?

  • How long do you have? Is a rollout plastic cover an option in your judgement? Are you averse to all herbicides, or would you use a short residual soil herbicide? – J. Musser Jan 16 '15 at 20:49
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It looks like you may have your work cut out for you. The persistent and perennial nature of mugwort - and its ability to grow whole new plants from tiny sections of its creeping roots, which rules out tilling - makes it tough to control. To do this without chemicals may take a bit of time, and then once cleared, upkeep.

To clear the space, I'd remove as much of the plant above the surface as possible and dispose of it, and then cover the area in a material that will at least block out sunlight (blocking water too might cause other issues and harm, or push out, soil organisms). It will probably take a long, long while for the roots left in the ground to decompose. Once they do, you should have ground you can work with. Any mugwort that comes back can be controlled with vigilance, pulling it early and often until it stops coming back (at least, within the area).

Some links: - http://plantsciences.utk.edu/pdf/MugwortManagement.pdf - http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/plant-problems/weeds/getting-rid-of-mugwort.htm

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