Should we use wood chips to battle rugosa rose in our yard?


We are battling rugosa rose in our yard.  We cut back and covered a 20 x 20 section with black plastic for two years.  Now, we are not sure the best way to cover that area and prevent the rose, which is still nearby, from taking over again. We do not want to use anything toxic. (not thrilled about the black plastic either). Should we use wood chips? We plan to build some long raised beds for raspberries.


Jonathan Foster, Special Project Assistant 

It sounds as though you’ve been conscientiously pursuing the recommended non-chemical control methods, physical removal (which can be tricky as all portions of the underground suckers need to be removed, or it will resprout from the pieces) and smothering. Unfortunately, according to the State of Maine’s Natural Areas Program, you’re now at the point of chemical intervention if the mowing, pulling, and smothering aren’t managing the roses to a tolerable level. While I don’t discourage you from using wood chips as mulch (though primarily on walkways and bare areas, not directly in vegetable gardens, as they can lock up nitrogen as they decompose), I don’t think that will do much for the problem.