Bindiis are the curse of summer 2016/17 in South East New South Wales.
Barefoot cricket is not an option and running under the sprinkler ends in tears. My dog Duke has even worked out a path around the bindiis when fetching a ball – smart fella!
Spread easily by foot traffic and in the fur of animals, bindiis AKA Soliva sessilis are a native of South America, but are now well established around the globe. Backyards in New Zealand, France, Hawaii, and California have also become no-go zones.
In 2016 it seems these little ‘pricks’ have made the most of a good growing season.
A spokesperson from the parks and gardens team at Eurobodalla Shire Council says bindiis generally flourish in spring, but especially so after a wet winter.
And a wet winter we have had.
Checking the rainfall stats, South East NSW received an average of 364mm of rain over the three months of winter. Bega was the top with 808mm, then came Batemans Bay with at least 400mm, Eden 236mm, Bombala 235mm, Jindabyne 258mm.
As a bonus, most backyards also had a good dump in early spring.
Friends of About Regional are despairing.
Jan Southcott writes, ‘This is the first year they have invaded our lawn – grandkids won’t be happy.”
“I think they are worse this year,” Robyn Calhoun says on Facebook.
Ahoy Jenni writes, “I was ambushed by a whole cluster of bindiis.”
From Meagan O’Halloran, “They are much worse at my place too this year.”
Robyn Broughton was forced to take action, “Just finished digging mine out of the backyard.”
There is more at play here though then just our wet winter.
“What the bindii is telling you is – Stop treading here, I am repairing your lawn!”
The Bega Valley based permaculturist says bindiis are a sign that your lawn has become compacted, stressed and worn.
“Bindiis often appear as the first part of a healing process – a successional process of plants that move in to repair the soil,” she says.
“Next to appear will be long tap rooted weeds like flat-weed, thistle, dock, and plantain.
“After that, the native grasses have a chance to appear and repair,” Kathleen says.
For a land manager like Eurobodalla Shire Council, controlling bindiis is a key part of their annual maintenance program for local parks, sporting fields and reserves.
High profile grassy areas like Moruya’s Riverside Park, the Batemans Bay Foreshore Reserve, and the turfed areas around public pools come in for particular attention.
To stay ahead of the spiky invaders Council sprays a herbicide during the winter months called ‘Spearhead’.
“If the bindiis have flowered it’s too late to spray for summer,” a Council spokesperson says.
“The maintenance must be done annually and we are finding each year there is less infestation than the previous year.”
No sprays for Kathleen McCann, her approach is to work with the natural healing process and restore the health of your lawn – reducing those bare, compacted spots where bindiis can take hold.
“Next time it rains, or after a good watering, fork holes into the lawn, feed up with fertiliser, worm juice, dolomite, potash and give it another good watering,” Kathleen advises.
“You will still have some bindiis popping up but they will soon disappear as the repair starts to happen.”
On Facebook, Russell Jennings adds, “Learn to recognise the distinctive leaves and just keep ripping them out before they seed.
“It takes a while, with regular pulling out sessions, eventually you can win,” Russell writes.
Good luck comrades in the battle against bindiis, may luscious lawns be yours in the summer of 2017/18.