What is the best method to dig out an unwanted tall ornamental

vickster257(Z7aNJ)August 24, 2012

grass which has rooted itself in between the house and directly behind a climbing "Peace" rose? The rose has been in this location for 12 years. I can't dig out the clump of grass without damaging or digging out the climbing rose. The grass is one which has a thick base and gets to be 10 feet tall (estimate). I have cut back most of the grass which still is intact. Do I try to dig up the rose and then dig out the grass? I don't know what to do. Does anyone have a recommendation or has anyone had a similar situation which was successful?

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When I have to wiggle something out without hurting the surrounding plants (well, minimizing any harm, anyway), I usually start by loosening the rootball of the offender with a pitchfork, as far around the rootball as I can get. I then see if I can get the plant up, altogether or at least half. Then I get down on hands and knees and work on it from underneath with a cultivator and hand pick. If you are not set on saving the plant you're digging up, you can go to town on the rootball with clippers, pick, or spade, whatever will get the rootball up and out.
A rose that has been in that spot for 12 years should be able to tolerate a little mucking about near its roots.
Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 9:04PM
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I will attempt to use a pitchfork but the space is so tight and I can see where small tools will come into play. It took me 2 days to cut back this huge grass. I like orn. grasses in general but not here in this garden.

Thanks for your advice.


    Bookmark   August 26, 2012 at 11:35AM
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Hi Vicki,

Just yesterday I just dug up a Japanese Silver Grass in my backyard garden. It has beautiful variegated foliage and grows beautiful plumes in October-November, but the root ball probably grows 2 feet wider each year:) It's just too big for my garden. I've had it for about 6 years now. Two years ago I even dug it up out of the ground and divided it into 3 pieces. I gave away 2 and just re-planted 1 piece back in the ground. Two years later it has outgrown its space again. So anyway, I just felt it was too much maintenance, so yesterday I struggled but managed to dig up out of the ground once again. Like your situation, the grass was also packed into a tight space with beautiful perennials closely surrounding it. I didn't have much area to even stand. Here's what I did that may offer you some help. First I cut the stalks down as short as possible to the ground. Then I used a standard spade to carve out a circle around the perimeter of the plant to outline the rootball as best as possible. Some of these ornamental grasses have such strong roots that even if you didn't have other plants closely surrounding it, you would still have a difficult time digging out the rootball in one piece. What I did and suggest you do is take an axe and visualize a vertical line running down the middle of the rootball. Then begin striking the line with your axe in small stages. I guarantee that little by little, you will work your way through the entire depth of the rootball. Once you complete that stage, try digging up the two individual pieces. It still may be too difficult. And if so, then just pick up your axe again and cut it into quarters. It's a slow process but you'll definitely be able to eventually dig up the entire plant using this strategy and with causing as little disruption to your rose as possible. Let me know what the results are. Wish you the Best!

    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 5:03AM
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Cut the grass back as far as possible. Then carefully spray it with Roundup (or generic equivalent) herbicide. You'll need to wrap part of the rose with cardboard to protect it from spray. This may require a couple of treatments.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2012 at 10:13PM
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