Firefighters create fire lanes to prevent forest fires from leaping across to desirable areas. A similar approach is possible to thwart kudzu by creating a buffer zone to slow encroachment. We now prefer the term "buffer zone", although originally we used the term "fire lane" by analogy with firefighting techniques. (Some of our older photographs below show signs with the words "fire lane".) The idea is to use a mechanical method (like a string trimmer) or a thermal method (like polyethelene sheets) to keep kudzu out of a protected area. The Coalition has also experimented with combinations of methods. For example, bush hogging followed by using a string trimmer, or polyetheylene sheet followed by using a sting trimmer. How often treatments are carried out is also a factor. Whatever the method, kudzu eradication is not a priority, only control.
Lawn mowers keep paths free when used regularly, especially against vines migrating in from other areas. But they are not very portable! June and August 2005.
String trimmers ("Weed Eaters"; please read our disclaimer) are effective at killing plants by mechanical defoliation. That is, by continually removing new plant growth, the plant roots are eventually starved. Initial treatment reveals many crowns, flagged (first photograph, June 2005). Many crowns are eventually eradicated (second photograph, August 2005).
The string trimmer treatment did eventually kill nearly all kudzu in a buffer zone at the test site after persistent treatment over two growing seasons. June 2006.
Using mulches to "cook" buffer zone kudzu also works to varying degrees, with grass clippings most effective. More details on this treatment are given elsewhere on our website.