by Ken Sands
Forest Hills residents who’ve used the sidewalk on Albemarle between Connecticut and the entrance to Soapstone Valley know the perennial problem of tall weeds choking off access to the sidewalk.
It’s a small slice of city sidewalk at the entrance to National Park Service property, and it’s infrequently maintained. So local residents sometimes whack the weeds, most recently on September 13th.
The dominant weeds there, porcelain berry and Persicaria longiseta, are a problem throughout Forest Hills, Soapstone Valley, and the greater Rock Creek park ecosystem, along with the wildly pervasive and destructive English ivy.
As part of the Soapstone Valley sewer rehabilitation project, invasive plants on Park Service property are being removed and replaced with native species.
Meanwhile, the Rock Creek Conservancy organizes regular invasive species removals for local volunteers. One is the annual “Weed Wrangle.” There’s an event Saturday, September 24th, from 9:30 a.m. to noon. Volunteers sign up in advance and meet at the Rock Creek Park Nature Center. Another nearby event takes place Sunday, September 25th, from 10 a.m. to noon, with volunteers meeting near the intersection of Broad Branch Road and Beach Drive.
Those looking for more of a sustained commitment to the local environment can take “Weed Warriors” training offered by the Rock Creek Conservancy. Those who take the training are asked to complete at least 30 hours of weed removal per year. “Weed Warriors may engage in additional training to eventually become Weed Warrior Leaders, who can host their own volunteer events in their favorite parts of the park,” according to the conservancy website.
To be clear, “only permitted Weed Warriors may remove invasive plants from Rock Creek Park without supervision.” The conservancy also is eager for local residents to remove invasive species from their own property, as the seeds are spread easily by birds. As recently as 2021, the organization promoted a “pledge to remove English ivy (or other invasive plants, including garlic mustard) from my private property.” A helpful instructional video on how to remove English ivy from trees was uploaded by the conservancy to YouTube.
Depending on weather, the weeds along the Albemarle sidewalk probably won’t become overgrown again this calendar year. Cutting the weeds to the ground is, at best, a temporary solution. A better, but more time-consuming solution, would require manual weed-pulling to remove entire root systems.