Mechanical Control of Melaleuca
Mechanical control can be performed with large machinery or by hand using machetes and chainsaws. Machines can cut, stack, or grind the trees. One machine, simply known as the "brontosaurus", uses a chipper on a long boom to grind standing trees all the way down to the ground, leaving huge piles of mulch in its wake. Another machine, called a feller-buncher, grabs trees, saws them off at the base and applies herbicide to the remaining stump, then stacks the trees for later disposal. A third machine, a Barko chipper, pushes the trees over and grinds them up as it goes. The Barko chipper is often used to cut roads and fire lines when fighting wild fires.
There are many large machines that can do the job. Each machine has its advantages and all of them work best on large expanses of trees. For small properties such as yards, mechanical treatment by hand is best. Portable chipping equipment works on all but the trunks from large trees.
Mechanical control of melaleuca means manually cutting or uprooting the plants, and this can be accomplished with equipment or done by hand.
While it may not sound like it, hand-pulling is the most efficient way to control seedlings (those that are trees less than 1-meter tall). The of cutting of any seedlings should include herbicide application to the stem to prevent resprouting, and this is why hand-pulling a great choice. Hand-pulling is the simplest method of mechanically controlling melaleuca.
Hand tools such as machetes and chainsaws, in conjunction with herbicides, are often used to clear melaleuca from property. While somewhat labor intensive, they are very good choices when there is a lot of native vegetation present. Vegetation control companies that utilize the hand tool/herbicide application method find successful ways to keep labor costs down to be successful, such as employing workers from Central America.
When most people think of mechanically controlling melaleuca, they usually think of heavy machinery. In South Florida, the use of specialized tree-clearing equipment to clear melaleuca is common. Heavy machinery includes bulldozers, stump grinders, and specialized equipment such as the clear-more chipper/stumper, feller-buncher, and brontosaurus attachment for backhoes. While these methods also often include herbicide application, it may not always be necessary. It is possible (though yet not studied) that mulching of the tree trunks and branches will prevent seedling establishment, and grinding the stump will prevent the tree from regrowing.
To view these methods, check out our photo gallery. Please take all necessary precautions to ensure your safety when operating chain saws and heavy machinary. For a primer on chain saw safety, see: How to Operate Chain Saws Safely: A PowerPoint Presentation.
A chainsaw has the lowest environmental impact.