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Environmental Services Encourages People to Get a Weed Workout (not that kind)

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You’re staying home. But, you want to get outside. We can help. Environmental Services is encouraging people to get a Weed Workout. Watch our video and then bend, pull, dig, stretch.

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You will accomplish several things at once: Stay home, get fresh air, get exercise, and keep your yard beautiful. You also will help prevent ivy, clematis, certain geraniums and other invasive plants from spreading far and wide and damaging the natural areas and rivers we love and rely on.

Don’t have a yard? See if you can safely help a neighbor. We’re all in this together and we’re all connected.

Why this is important: Some of the fastest growing plants in your yard are weeds – and some of those weeds are aggressive enough that they quickly spread and take over. These invasive plants, which originated elsewhere and tend to overrun our native flora, are a leading cause of damage to ecosystems and wildlife habitat as well as the City’s stormwater infrastructure.

“Invasive plants are a serious problem, removing them doesn’t have to be,” said Michael Jordan, Environmental Services’ Director. “Stay home, be outside, pull those weeds, and have fun knowing you are doing a great deal of good for your neighbors and for our environment.”

Here are some plants and tips to get you started:

Follow along on our video or skip ahead for more tips and resources.

Close up photo of the pink flower on an Herb Robert geranium
The herb Robert geranium is also called stinky Bob because… it smells bad.
  • Look first. Spring is bird nesting season. If you’re lucky enough to spot a nest, either on the ground or up in a mess of ivy in a tree, please leave it and the weeds alone until those baby birds grow up and fly away.
  • Start easy with shiny geranium and herb Robert geranium. These two invasive geraniums are easy to pull from the roots. With red stems and pink flowers, they look pretty BUT they quickly take over your yard and overrun other plants.  You don’t want it in your yard. So pull these weeds now, and then come back through the season to pull new plants before they flower and go to seed.
  • Pick up the pace by pulling ivy. You know ivy – it’s all over Forest Park where the City is methodically removing this European transplant and restoring native plants. Let’s keep that progress going – your yard is also wildlife habitat. Prevent that ivy from climbing trees and forming mats on the ground. Clip, pull, repeat. You’re doing great.
  • Get a full-season workout with climbing Clematis Vitalba (Also called old man’s beard or traveler’s joy). This vine starts small, green, and innocent. But it has the power to climb tall trees and hedges, grow tough and woody stems, and wrap itself around anything it can. Once you meet it, you won’t forget it. So start pulling, and then keep monitoring. It will be back. But so will you. If you can’t pull it from a tree, consider cutting the stems in two near the base.
  • Keep it going! The key to fitness is to repeat your workout. Over time you will see a difference – fewer weeds, healthier gardens and natural areas, and hopefully, you’ll feel great too. Give yourself a round of applause, then get back in the garden and bend, pull, dig, repeat.

Are there more weeds? Yes.

Environmental Services and our partners have additional resources for you so you can add variety to your workout and keep it going:

Finally, with more space now that the weeds are gone, you may be ready to plant native plants and even become a certified backyard habitat.

So stay home, get fit, and enjoy the benefits of your weed workout. Want to send us pictures of your own weed workout (not that kind)? Tag us on Twitter @BESPortland #weedworkout