Rhododendron Control

360 Excavator in the cornish woods

Using an excavator to assist in the mechanical control of rhododendron in Cornwall

Knighton Countryside Management Ltd have successfully delivered rhododendron clearance contracts right across the United Kingdom. Clients include the Forestry Commission, The National Trust, County Councils and private land owners.

Rhododendron Ponticum, or Common Rhododendron, was introduced to the UK in 1763 as an ornamental shrub, and was also used as game cover. Attractive and striking though it is, it causes problems in different ways, and understanding these has helped us to develop the most effective clearing methods.

It is extremely efficient in spreading itself by producing large numbers of seeds, and also through root suckers. It thrives in the same conditions that encourage native heathland flora, and is more vigorous, inhibiting the growth of native species. It damages woodland, stopping trees setting seed. It also destroys peatlands.

A picture of someone applying herbicide to rhodendron with a backpack sprayer

Applying Herbicide to Rhododendron

Rhododendron can first be cut down, either using a flail or by hand. Once this has been done, the stumps need to be treated with an appropriate herbicide once they have enough foliage, but before they produce more seeds. Direct application of herbicide to the newly cut stumps is another option. Rhododendron can often be found on steep ground, and out teams of arborists can help with rope access and stem injection treatment. The great thing about Knighton is that we own all the necessary equipment to carry out the various different forms of treatment, and we employ suitably qualified staff. This means that, on sites where different treatments are appropriate in different places, we can adapt and accommodate with ease.

Once the rhododendron has been cleared, we can encourage the regrowth of native species if required, which in turns helps prevent recurrence.

Rhododendron is a good host for Phytophthora pathogens, which can cause massive damage to agricultural crops and woodlands. For example, it was a Phytophthera pathogen that caused the Irish Potato Famine in 1845. For this reason, Phytophthera infected Rhododendron needs to be removed efficiently, and with bio hazard controls in place to prevent further spread and regrowth.

One way to dispose of rhododendron arisings is to burn them on site and Knighton are ideally placed to do this. We are familiar with the requirements of hot work, and we have the appropriate permits for transporting and burning waste. Alternatively, we can arrange for the arisings to be recycled into the biomass industry. With directly employed staff at work all year round, we are able to carry out the work at the time of year and in the type of weather that will combine to give the best possible result.