Removing ornamental grasses

ccpaApril 24, 2007

We have several mature ornamental grasses planted around the front of our house that actually grow so large they cover the front entrance to the house. Is there any way, other than cutting to the ground and hacking into the root system, to remove the plants (they will not be replanted). Are there any chemical or natural compounds that can be spread over the plants to kill them

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Roundup will kill them, but for very large clumps, it may take a couple of doses. You'll have to wait until much of the foliage has grown in, and soak them down good, with a strong dilution. Of course, you'll still have to cut down the dead foliage, and should dig up the dead crowns.

Another possibility is to let area landscapers and gardeners know you want to be rid of the grasses. If you were closer to me, I'd remove them just to get the plants.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2007 at 6:14AM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

I have dug up several large clumps with the help of a friend. It's a good workout, varying in difficulty depending on the species and cultivar, but very doable by two women. I'm a 62 year old woman and my helper was 53. The toughest one to remove/move was Molinia 'Skyracer'. Use an axe to cut up the clumps once they're loose.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2007 at 6:25AM
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achnatherum(z4or3 Ontario)

I think Donn had an excellent idea! And, one that will cause you the least amount of work.
- Try one of your small local nurseries or landscapers - they may come & dig the grass out for you - happy to have the plants.
- Put a sign up 'Free Ornamental Grasses for the digging'
- Post a note on the plant exchange forum - You might get rid of the grasses & make a new friend :o)

As Donn says, killing the grass with herbicides will still leave you with the root to dig out - at that point you might as well dig out the live plant & leave the herbicides on the shelf! IMHO.

Here is a link that might be useful: Plant exchange

    Bookmark   April 26, 2007 at 7:26AM
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I just dug up a large Miscanthus and it was not easy... the plant was so wide I could not get the shovel far enough under the plant to cut the roots easily, and the root ball and top weigh 70-80lbs and is hard to get a grip on... so it can be quite the task. Killing it won't make it easier, unless you just let it rot in the ground which would be an eyesore

So what do you do with the dug out plant? It is too heavy for the yard waste people... I'll try to cut it in pieces with a saw

    Bookmark   April 26, 2007 at 8:13PM
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achnatherum(z4or3 Ontario)

If you can't find a home for the dug-up grass ..
Using a small hatchet & a mallet, it is quite easy to chop-up even the largest of grasses. Once you get it in smaller pieces more of the soil will shake off making the clumps much lighter & easier to handle.

I have many x-large clumps to dig & divide this year - I sympathise

    Bookmark   April 26, 2007 at 10:35PM
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This is not to make light of a daunting task, but it does show the importance of planting according to mature size when planning a garden.

As for the task at hand, digging is probably the better option to herbicides, which will likely leave a root system that will require digging and working the ground for replanting regardless.

Best option suggested is the 'find a friend'. If someone wants the grass clumps badly enough, they'll do the digging.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2007 at 9:36PM
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It pains me to say this, because I used to really love these plants, but here in Virginia these grasses are becoming a major problem, achieving invasive status in many areas. So when I'm asked this question in VA, my response is either 1) Roundup or 2) hack 'em up and compost 'em (if your compost gets hot enough to kill the seeds) or 3) trash 'em (our trash goes to an incinerator, so that stops the problem right there!)

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 7:07PM
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an easy way to get rid of them is to cut them down in the fall, and giving them a really good drink of water right before it freezes---amazing how easy they come out in the spring if you can get the crown wet and make it stand in the ice! I goofed and cut a couple down one fall and the fall rains took care of the rest for me---lesson learned--they say winter interest on them for a good reason.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2009 at 4:18AM
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