A great challenge faced by the Coalition is a large tract of land along Vic Bailey, Jr. Blvd. (formerly N. Daniel Morgan Ave.) in Spartanburg. It is across the street from a large automobile dealership (see photograph), and is adjacent to an area in the city with a new park, a new municipal arts building, and a resort hotel. The hotel draws out-of-town business and convention visitors to Spartanburg. So this tract, overrun by kudzu, is a spot of embarrassment for the city.
The photograph shows kudzu smothering trees, and encroaching on the public sidewalk. Note the brown strip where the city mowed the kudzu (or sprayed pesticide?) to suppress kudzu and encourage grass to grow. October 2004.
The next photograph shows the appearance of this same area after frost kills the kudzu foliage. Pretty bad. January 2005.
The first photograph shows only a small part of the large acreage of kudzu-covered ground, with the resort hotel among other buildings in the background. The terrain is rough, with many trees, and there is a ravine with a creek at the back of the lot. January 2005. The second photograph shows one example of sidewalk encroachment at the time that the Coalition was asked to help clean up the site. June 1006.
Coalition volunteers spent about two months clearing kudzu from trees along the street where the effects of kudzu was most visually objectionable. However, the large size of the tract meant that it was desirable to use mechanical means of clearing vegetation from as much of the lot as possible. This would expose the kudzu root crowns which must be removed surgically to permanently eliminate the kudzu. City personnel reviewed the situation and then brought in the appropriate equipment. Several types of heavy-duty mowing machinery were used to clear the land of kudzu and small brush. Whenever the ground was too uneven for large mowing machinery, then manual work was necessary. City workers used string trimmers to cut down high vegetation. The site was mowed as close to trees as possible. June 2006.
City workers created a temporary barrier of fresh grass clippings to block kudzu from a stretch of sidewalk, until Coalition volunteers could permanently remove the source of the kudzu. June and July 2006.
More manpower is necessary to supplement Coalition volunteers in this large effort, so the Spartanburg Urban Youth Corp has helped by contributing two teams. The photograph below shows one such team. June 2006.
Kudzu can be intimidating, but these young folks enthusiastically faced the challenge head-on! They also learned a little more about how Mother Nature works. June 2006.
A Coalition volunteer holds a large kudzu root scraped up by a plow, left. Unfortunately, he also shows roots still in the ground that were exposed by the machine, right: Such kudzu plants can regenerate if the root crown is intact and undamaged. The Coalition believes soil that is scraped off one kudzu-overrun plot of land by earthmovers contains kudzu root crowns, and thereby transports kudzu to other locations. This sometimes explains why kudzu seems to appear out of nowhere in urban settings. July 2006.
A typical situation: A kudzu-covered utility pole and guy wire. July 2006.
An urban safety hazard: A poorly covered storm drain pipe junction box, which was hidden by overlying kudzu. July 2006.
The Spartanburg Urban Youth Corps made another enthusiastic return visit. July 2006.
Progress continues on clearing the site, as the following photographs show: The first shows cleared ground with a open view of the convention hotel; the second shows large attractive trees along the road recovering one season after kudzu was removed from them; the third shows cleared ground beyond the sidewalk at a corner with a pointless stop sign: this is an entrance to an abandoned real estate development (hence the kudzu infestation and construction debris); and the fourth shows ground partially cleared of kudzu up to a line, beyond which kudzu still grows rampant. Note the crane in the background where a new arts building for Spartanburg is under construction. One question faced by the Coalition was whether to tackle kudzu on a site that might be purchased in the near future for commercial use. We decided that it was better to beautify the site now for the benefit of residents and visitors, and perhaps in this way attract new owners who would complete the job of kudzu removal. July 2006.
Coalition applied transparent plastic and patterned billboard sheets to test their effectiveness for killing kudzu crowns not removed by other means, first and second photographs, respectively. September 2006.
The first photograph shows kudzu leaves as seen through a clear plastic sheet. Note the moisture condensation and dying yellowing leaves. The second photograph shows an area of ground after a sheet is removed. March 2007.
Coalition cofounder Henry Pittman provided this interesting panoramic photograph of the site for April 2007.
As an experiment, a flail mower was brought to the site by the city of Spartanburg to test its effectiveness on killing residual kudzu plants. The second photograph shows a path cut through the weeds by the flail mower. Click for a larger image. We plan to report on the effectiveness of this treatment here. April 2007.
These photographs show what the property looked like after intensive site work with a combination of manual and machine treatments. June 2007.
A 16-member contingent of the Spartanburg Urban Youth Corp helped to continue clearing the site of kudzu in June 2007. While doing so they broke the past record for the number of kudzu plants killed in one day at a site! This was in part due to a new method developed by San Antonio Perkins, which is described in detail elsewhere on this website (where photographs can be seen of San Antonio at work), and is named "The Kudzu Chop".
The happy young lady in the first photograph hoists a tree branch, and moves it to a pile for a future bonfire. In the second photograph, guys have worked their way down to the creek at the back of the property. It's a jungle out there! June 2007.
Speaking of a jungle . . . June 2007.
During a rest break, the student on the far right, inside the van, appears broken (first photograph). But there's lots of youthful energy left for being a swinger (second photograph)! June 2007.
The Spartanburg Urban Youth Corp returned again. Either the young man in the right photograph recently donated blood, or he and a sharp pruning saw crossed paths. Please be careful in the patch! July 2007.
The session featured a wiener roast for volunteers. In the first photograph two young men help hold up a rake that is heavy with wieners over a hot kudzu fire. The second photograph shows a local firefighter crew leaving the scene after responding to calls about our fire. Sorry guys, false alarm. We usually let fire stations know ahead of time about our fires to prevent this from happening. July 2007.