Weed Trimming Tips
Trailbuilding and Advocacy
June 05, 2020, 05:46 PM
It's that time of year again; The weeds are tall, growing fast, and taking some of the fun out of our excellent trails. Almost all of our trail maintenance is done by volunteers, and that could be you! Trimming is relatively easy, can be done with one or two people, and can be done whenever you have time. We have the equipment, you just need to hook up with a
for a brief training (10 minutes or so), and then you are off.
It's a good idea to go out early in the morning when traffic is light, or work against the bike traffic if possible.
One thing to remember is that weed trimming is not a detail operation; you need to cut back much more than it seems like you might at first glance; if you leave the trails nice and rideable, between the fast growth and what falls back over the trail, in a couple days it will seem like you were never there.
When trimming grass, prairie plants, and any non-woody growth, you need to trim as far back from the trail as the growth is high. In other words, if the weeds are 3' tall, you will be cutting a swath about 7' wide (3' on each side plus 1' of trail). Otherwise, the uncut growth will grow and fall into your corridor and quickly crowd the trail again. You can do this by cutting low for the full width, or by tapering up at 45 degree angle, so that the plants that tip over toward the trail still don't reach it. This will seem like a lot, and will look butchered when you are done, but come back in a week and it will look great instead of needing to be trimmed again. If you can talk a friend into following you with a blower, that's great, but traffic will clear most of the trimmings off the tread in short order. And don't forget to look up; there are many grassy/prairie sections that have a few trees around, and you want to get the face-scratchers while you are there. Usually you can whack these off with the string trimmer, but it doesn't hurt to carry a small pruning shear for the occasional woody branch.
If you are trimming woody growth, again, trim much further back than you feel like you need to. You don't want to leave the cut ends of small branches anywhere near eye-level on the trail. Mostly what we are cutting around here is buckthorn and honeysuckle; you're not going to do them any harm by trimming deeply.
If done right, trimming only needs to happen 2 or 3 times a year, and shouldn't take up too much time, especially if we can spread the work around. So instead of complaining about the weeds, grab a string-trimmer and make them pay for slowing you down on your last ride!