Weed control

mass of grass and wild flowers including poppies, daisies and cornflowers

To support biodiversity, we have created diverse grassland habitats in many of our green spaces. Pittville Park, Benhall Open Space, and Springfields Park are just a few where extensive natural grassland is supporting bird species where they had not previously existed. In other areas, we have allowed intensively cut grass to grow long which supports valuable pollinating insect populations, and established perennial planting schemes to replace seasonal bedding in town centre parks.

Weed spraying – updated Thursday 13 June 2024

Again, this year we are committed to reducing the amount of weed spraying and building on the 50% reduction achieved last year to protect the insects, bees and support our environment, however, we are having to balance this against budget pressures. This year’s annual weed spray, targeting areas across the town, spraying around obstacles, such as signposts in grass verges and on paved areas and road edges, began week commencing Monday 6 May 2024. This year, to further reduce the amount of weed spray used, we won’t be spraying around tree bases in grass verges or on paved areas. We have considered not spraying around obstacles such as street furniture in paved areas but this year we intend to maintain the one targeted weed spray around street furniture and monitor the benefits whilst we work with local interest groups on plans for future years. 

Weed spraying road channels is intended to prevent unwanted weed growth that may inhibit drainage channels or create trip hazards for the public. Weed spraying is also intended to clear weeds from hard landscape areas, footways and around non-living obstacles, such as lighting columns, signage, and street furniture. The weed spraying also targets highways and council owned car parks.

The operator, who carries out the weed spraying on our behalf, holds an appropriate NPTC certificate of competence and will have calibrated application equipment. The nozzle selection will take into account the volume of application and other product label recommendations to avoid drift and excessive application. Before starting application, the operator will check that the weather is suitable, public safety and due regard has been taken of nearby watercourses, drains, other environmental factors and neighbouring properties. 

In 2024, we are trialling a different type of weed spray around the obstacles across the borough. Around the obstacles and elsewhere our contractor will be using Amega Duo in mix with Codacide. This is an efficient and cost-effective method for the broad-spectrum treatment of weeds. It combines the activity of a residual and total systemic herbicide. Use of the mixture can reduce the amount of glyphosate applied and can control weeds for up to eight months, reducing strimming and mowing operations. Amega Duo and Codacide are classified as non-toxic for skin, ingestion, inhalation, and is non carcinogenic. It works by acting on an enzyme found in plants. As for re-entry there is no requirement to restrict access to an area that has been treated with Amega Duo mixed with Codacide under normal usage conditions, by people, pets and wildlife. Therefore, we are advised that it is safe for animals and wildlife. Yellow discolouration will be seen after weed spraying where nutrients are withdrawing to the root system in advance of the plant dying.

For more information regarding the chemicals used during the weed spray in Cheltenham, please visit our contractors website. In Cheltenham please note that the contractor will only be using Amega Duo in mix with Codacide. 

Maps of the weed spraying locations are available by selecting the links below. You can also check the master map to see what area your road may fall under for weed control.

Weed spraying has now been completed in:

Weed spraying is set to take place in the below areas shortly:

Weed growth and die back

After weeds have been sprayed, die back will be seen for up to three to six weeks and Ubico, the council's environmental services provider, will begin the process of manual weed removal across the borough as soon as possible afterwards and over the coming months. The manual weed removal methods including the weed ripper are very effective to control weeds but as we have seen in previous years it takes a lot of time, so we do ask residents to be patient as we gradually move around the borough. The more manual removal we, or residents, are able to do the less weed spraying is needed. During 2020 and more recently, a lot of effort was put into a trial of various different methods of weed control to avoid weed spraying and we still continue each year to try to find the most environmentally friendly method. At the moment the most efficient and cost effective method is weed spraying and we deliver as much manual weed removal as possible with the resources we have available.

councillors Dobie and Oliver with Ubico operative and weed ripper machine in cheltenham

During 2024, on a trial basis, to manage weed growth around tree bases in paved areas in the town centre and outer lying areas in the borough, street cleansing and grounds maintenance staff will seek to keep weed and grass growth to a minimum without the need for weed spraying. Where appropriate, particularly in the town centre, staff will hoe tree bases monthly, where possible, to agitate top surface soil to keep weeds and grass growth under control. However, where this is not possible or outside of the town centre, an annual cut of long weeds or grass will be delivered at the end of the growing season being careful not to damage tree trunks.

Manual weed removal teams will focus their efforts in the heavier footfall areas, such as near churches, hospitals, schools and local shop fronts as well as along bus routes. Any specific health and safety issues with tall weed growth in pavements will also be prioritised and we ask the public to report these to us.

To reduce weed growth in gullies on roads, Ubico will also continue to sweep the roads with the mechanical road sweepers which not only get rid of dirt and debris on the edge of roads but also stop the germination of more weeds. Parked cars do prevent this activity being carried out successfully.

Hedge cutting and alleyway clearance

Hedge cutting across the town has been suspended as per Section 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981). Cutting will start again at the beginning of August/September unless the bird nesting season is extended. If hedges do need cutting in this period due to health and safety requirements a full inspection will be carried out. Alleyway clearance (for example mowing and strimming) for highways alleyways is due to start late September/October 2024 and the alleyways due to be cleared will be listed below nearer the time.

Ground flailing (cutting) the large stretches of grass verges on semi rural roads will be starting at the end of June through to October. 

Ground maintenance around Cheltenham’s publicly owned trees

To further support biodiversity, after the one annual weed spray, we will continue to undertake maintenance of soft green growth (weeds or long grass) around the base of trees in grass verges but will leave such growth to grow longer where appropriate by up to half a metre radial spread around the base of the tree trunk with an annual careful cut towards the end of the growing season.

It is hoped that this will:

  1. encourage wildlife around tree bases,
  2. reduce water evaporation thus enabling more water available to tree roots,
  3. reduce the incidence of mower/ strimmer damage to tree roots, trunks, and low canopy branches,
  4. reduce the requirement to use herbicides,

Where trees are growing in parks, gardens and open spaces, again green growth will be left under most tree canopies to grow delivering the same benefits to the trees as described above.

In more formal garden settings such as Montpellier Gardens, Imperial Gardens and parts of Sandford Ornamental Gardens etc., green growth will be cut closer to tree bases so as not to impede pedestrian traffic during Festivals etc. as well as to help maintain the more formal visual setting of the park.

It is hoped that the reduction in grass cutting will enable lower tree canopy growth. This will reduce levels of light reaching the ground which should reduce the rate of green growth around the immediate environment of the trees giving trees a more “natural” appearance. 

However, low tree canopy growth alongside formal paths will continue to be cut to an appropriate height to allow for unimpeded pedestrian access. Green growth will usually be cut down regularly where it is growing close to such formal paths.