Whitemarsh Park Weed Warriors

What is a Weed Warrior?

photo of English ivy on treeA Weed Warrior is a volunteer who works alongside members of the City's Green Team to stop the assault on the forest at Whitemarsh Park by the non-native, invasive English ivy vine. This volunteer program began in July 2013, and meets in fall and spring months on Saturdays to remove English ivy from trees, starting along the driveway leading back to the Bowie Playhouse and eventually working into other areas of Whitemarsh Park.

What is English ivy, and why have a special program for it?

Everyone has probably seen English ivy on trees in their yards or their neighbors' yards, along neighborhood streets and streams, and in local parks like this tree (right) at Whitemarsh Park. Odds are that it was not planted there. As an invasive, non-native plant, English ivy spreads quickly and easily, and is very destructive to native ecosystems. It can strangle trees at their base, and when it reaches up into the tree's canopy, the added weight can easily topple the tree in a storm, particularly when the tree is also covered in snow.  

But I don't know how to cut English ivy vines!

Did you know that trees can be damaged during the process of removing ivy? Don't worry - you'll be fully trained in proper techniques of removing vines without damaging trees. The first 15 minutes of each Weed Warrior event will be spent demonstrating proper removal techniques and tool use.

A quick summary of the process is that you cut the ivy stems at eye-level and foot-level then carefully pull the vine from the tree between the cuts and back about two feet from the base of the tree. The ivy above eye level will eventually die off and fall from the tree.

This process takes a lot of elbow grease, and sometimes loppers and pruners are needed to remove vines from trees. The older ivy vines can be quite large (as much as 2-3 inches across or more) and may require intervention from a team leader using a hand saw to remove the vine.
Once the ivy is removed, it is bagged and sent to the landfill. Why not compost it like other yard waste? If sent with yard waste to the County's compost facility and one vine survives the compost process and is applied to someone's yard, it can quickly take over. All non-native, invasive plants should be disposed of in the trash.

Okay, I'm in! When is it and how do I sign up?

We do have to limit the number of volunteers to 25 so we can accommodate based on the availability of tools, so you must register to join us. Email the City's Sustainability Planner, Ashleigh Armentrout, to register (or call 301-809-3044).

When are we working?

The dates for upcoming work days can be found on the Weed Warrior Schedule.

Do I have to bring anything?

You'll need to dress appropriately, meaning long shirts and pants with closed-toe shoes or boots, and bring the release form (we will have extras that day) and water. You may want to bring a hat to cover your head as well. The City will provide everything else. That includes gloves, water, tools, insect and poison ivy repellent, and bags. Items you may wish to bring include knee pads for working around the base of trees and a snack.

Age restrictions are as follows: Children age 14 and younger must be under the direct supervision of a parent/guardian or Troop Leader at all times, and no volunteers under age 16 can use tools. 

Is there anything else I should know?

Yes. We will be working in the woods along the driveway by the Bowie Playhouse. Because we are in a forest setting, there is the potential for ticks, stinging insects and poison ivy. If you are allergic to bees or wasps and have an EpiPen, please be sure to have it with you when you come! When you RSVP, you will receive additional details on what to wear.