When baccharis needs a haircut, you can call in heavy equipment Essay

To look its best, coyote brush (Baccharis pilularis) needs to be cutback once a year before new growth starts. But dealing with a large,overgrown plot may seem almost impossible, especially if you think thatloppers are the only tool for the job. With a friend’s help and arented heavyduty, big-wheel weed mower, the home-owner pictured aboveshaved badly over-grown baccharis to about 1 inch above soil level. Ittook just under 4 hours, including cleanup, to clear seven years ofgrowth covering 700 square feet. The power mower eliminates mounding or lumpy growth. Regrowth is amore uniform mat of new green leaves. Mowing also cleans away possibleliving quarters for snails and roof rats.

Now is the best time for the task. You can rent the mower for $10to $12 an hour, usually with a 2-hour minimum; look in the telephonebook yellow pages under Rental Service Stores ; Yards. Before mowing, mark other plants and especially sprinklers withstakes–the mower will slice right through or mangle them. Don’ttry to push the mower into stiff growth. Instead, lower the bladeslowly into a section of baccharis.

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Pull the mower back, then startagain. Wear gloves and goggles, and try to direct debris thrown by thedischarge chute away from people and neighboring property. Use a flexible-tine rake to clean out cuttings. (Considering thedepth of the baccharis shown above, little debris remained aftermowing–one pickup truck load.

) A pitchfork is handy for loadingtrimmings into a truck. To stimulate new growth after mowing, scatter 1/2 to 1 pound ofammonium sulfate fertilizer per 100 square feet.

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