One of the most baffling things I was required to do while managing the landscaping at a local sewerage agency was weed control in the many rain gardens on their facilities. I suppose I should explain just what the hell a rain garden is I guess – basically they are artificial swamps, providing a place for water to run off and be filtered by plants before absorption into the soil profile.
It’s a sound and worthwhile concept, utilizing nature’s own bio-mass to soak up and synthesize all the nasty detritus washing off of asphalt surfaces, building roofs, the manicured areas of the landscape. The rushes, sedges, moisture loving trees and shrubs also provide small islands of habitat for critters within the surrounding civilization.
But essentially, we’re talking about swamps.
And I was called upon to wade into these overgrown drainage ditches, hefting a four gallon backpack sprayer, to dispatch weeds with a wetlands friendly herbicide. Never mind that much of the stuff I was after was similar to the desirable plants, but it’s not like vegetation is disposed to respect boundaries. Try spraying just the right plant with chiggers flying up your nose and you will know my plight.
Seriously I understand the need – crap like birdsfoot trefoil and himalayan blackberry need to be controlled, or the money spent on carefully designed rain gardens is wasted. There is a matter of degrees, however, and this particular customer had what I considered unrealistic expectations regarding weeds throughout, not just in the artificial swamps.
If anyone reading knows the meaning of a Q.R.F. and government set-asides, you may also recognize an inherent resentment by those forced to submit, and it’s easy to take that out on the non-profit contractor’s staff, human nature being what it is.