Trial of weed control alternatives

We launched a year-long trial of weed control alternatives this week, in a bid to reduce the use of the chemical herbicide glyphosate.

The trial, which started on Monday 9 May, will take place in south Reading along five different stretches of Northumberland Avenue, including two parks: Rabson’s Recreation Ground and Cintra Park.

The alternatives being explored include:

  • acetic acid (vinegar),
  • fatty acid (pelargonic acid which occurs naturally in plants and animals and is found in many foods),
  • weed removal by hand,
  • thermal methods including steam and hot water,
  • leaving an area without any form of control.

Part of the stretch will be treated with glyphosate as a control to compare how effective the other treatments are.

We have written to residents in the area to keep them informed of these plans as well as displaying posters with information on the trial.

You can find out more on our page about controlling weeds  and feedback on the alternative methods we are exploring.

Like many other councils, we use glyphosate in a limited and controlled fashion to tackle particularly challenging weeds and vegetation issues. This is used largely along roadways, and to a lesser degree in some public spaces and park areas where few other options exist.

Following public concern around the use of this chemical and questions over its potential effects on health and the environment, we have pledged to investigate a range of alternatives to assess the performance, practicality and cost of introducing other methods.

We have already trialled a new approach to grass cutting over the past two seasons as part of its successful ‘Rewilding’ scheme. Rewilding seeks to restore, reclaim and protect natural habitats and native species on highway verges and in parks to address the climate emergency, by enhancing biodiversity and green links across the town.

We are encouraging residents to feedback on what they think of the alternative methods being explored, by email to parks@reading.gov.uk or via our social media channels @ReadingCouncil Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

The use of glyphosate is currently licensed for use in the UK until December 2025. However, it is not clear whether further approval for its use as a herbicide will be granted after this date.

Where will the trial take place?

The trial will take place along the following areas of Northumberland Avenue:

  • Cintra Park – steam and hot water
  • Christchurch Gardens to Hexham Road – pelargonic acid
  • Hexham Road to Buckland Road – steam and hot water
  • Buckland Road to Honiton Road – hand removal
  • Honiton to Hartland – glyphosate
  • Rabson’s Recreation Ground – steam and hot water
  • Hartland Road to Whitley Wood – acetic acid

Find out more about our weed control trials.