Council's plans to work on weeds and welcome wildflowers

13 April 2022

Cheshire West and Chester Council StreetCare teams have been working hard this winter to keep weeds at bay in the coming summer months.  Plans are also in place to create a splash of colour in communities with wildflower planting, using a bespoke seed mix created by the Eden Project.

During the winter of 2021-2022, the Council has undertaken a huge project to manually clear built-up detritus on the borough’s fast and busy ‘A’ roads.

This detritus contains small, broken-down particles of natural materials including dust, mud, soil, grit, gravel, stones, rotted leaf, fragments of twigs and also seeds.

If left in situ, the detritus could provide just the correct moisture and nourishment to create a growing medium for weeds, due to the seeds it contains. Especially at the edge of kerbs edge and other areas where there is less vehicular or pedestrian traffic. 

Now, many tons of detritus have been removed by the Council’s StreetCare teams– along with the weed seeds in it to try stop the growth of weeds on footpath and roads that both impact on the infrastructure and accessibility for users.

The Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment, Highways and Strategic Transport, Councillor Karen Shore said:

“Having successfully completed all priority areas identified for detritus clearance during the winter period, we’re now much less likely to experience high levels of weed growth in our kerb channels and traffic islands in this coming season.

“Where weeds do grow the council undertakes targeted weed control on roads, pavements, kerb channels and wall footings to keep them as weed free as possible.”

To control weeds herbicide is applied twice a year, the first application between May and July then the second application from September to November.

The work is undertaken by specially qualified and certificated operatives. The herbicide is only applied to weeds that are visible at the time of application, using approved herbicides applied at the manufacturers recommended minimum dosage rates for effective control. The Council is also looking to explore alternatives to herbicides.

The herbicide is applied as a spray to the leaf of the weed where it is absorbed by the plant. Any chemical remaining on the leaf quickly dries and has no long-lasting toxic effects outside of the plants system.  From initial absorption of the herbicide through the leaf, it can take 10-14 days for the first signs of the chemical’s effects to show.

The Council’s native wildflower meadows will be created using a bespoke Cheshire seed mix that has been created by the Wildflower Centre based at the Eden Project. The seed supplier, Boston Seeds, has agreed to stock the ‘Cheshire mix’ so that anyone can order it and help to boost biodiversity in the borough. 

Residents can order the seed mix direct from Boston Seeds by calling 01205 280 069 and their website has some helpful guides on how to create a wildflower meadow in residential gardens.

It is best to sow native meadows in spring or late summer on areas of bare ground, or ground that is low in nutrients.

Cllr Shore added: 

“The Council is also making sure that grass and wildflower areas set aside for wildflowers and biodiversity are not affected by weed spraying.

“Wildflowers need specific conditions to grow and they struggle to compete with lawn grass.  Some Councils use herbicide to kill off the grass in preparation for seed, however we have made the decision to minimise the use of herbicide and will manually prepare the ground.  We’re going to put signage up explaining this to residents in all the areas selected for wildflower planting.”

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