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Thermal weeding gets up a head of steam

Citycare Property is steaming ahead with plans to reduce its use of herbicides by adopting thermal weeding.

As one of New Zealand's leading provider of maintenance and facilities management services across New Zealand, Citycare Property’s contracts currently include a five-year contract to maintain and manage all community-owned buildings and parks in South Auckland, as well as a range of landscape, facilities management, graffiti and water contracts in Christchurch and all around the country.

Many of Citycare Property's contracts include maintaining reserves, cemeteries, parks and playgrounds. As every home gardener knows, weeds are a constant battle, and it’s no different for Citycare. Our open space maintenance staff work to keep the weeds down while also keeping a keen eye on the environment.

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Thermal weed control involves spraying weeds with a fine jet of water at 120 degrees Celsius. After just a few seconds the weeds change colour, start to die and a couple of days later the full effect of the treatment can be seen. As with any weed control, there is regrowth from the seedbed under the surface but Citycare Relationship Manager Cindi Crooks says with thermal weed control this can be knocked back after several treatments. “Weeds react to thermal treatment in different ways. Some die in front of your eyes as soon as they are sprayed, while with others there is no immediate change but you come back a few days later and the weed is dead.

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“It’s a bit slower to apply than herbicides, but the results are very effective and the impact on the environment is vastly improved. We have been using thermal weeding in Christchurch since April and are very happy with the results.

“We’ve pioneered the use of this more sustainable weed control solution for sensitive environments. We know how well it works, and where it works; and we’re now well positioned to partner with other clients and owners of community open space assets to provide a more sustainable and socially responsible, effective service,” says Cindi.

Cindi Crooks

Citycare Property has two of the units needed to deliver thermal weed control and both are based in Christchurch. Thermal weed control has been around in one form or another for quite a while but the technology has improved and now we can attack weeds with a much higher temperature and the results are more effective. It is ideal for pavement weed control and rain gardens. “The same equipment can be used to steam-clean playground equipment and to remove graffiti,” says Cindi.

STeam Clean web

“We also use weed seeker technology in conjunction with herbicides. The weed seeker ensures that herbicide is automatically sprayed when a weed is detected, rather than continuous spraying whether there is a weed or not. This can reduce herbicide use by as much as 80%.

“Citycare is committed to constant innovation in the way we work. We are always actively looking for ways to be more sustainable and to have a lesser impact on our environment. We have regular innovation meetings where we discuss new ideas and how they could be incorporated in our work. We also like to work very closely with our clients to understand their key drivers so we can match those with innovative and sustainable solutions.”