Questions about hay

adidas(6/7)October 14, 2013


The previous owners or builders put down hay as a weed block over newly exposed dirt when the house was built about 10 yrs ago. From what I can tell though, the hay had gone to seed before it was laid and each summer a fine crop of hay grows. I am trying to get rid of the hay as, in rainy yrs, the hay grows about 4 ft high and blocks everything else from growing. I'm not here in the summer so I can't stop it from growing but I am trying to pull it up now. The thing I don't understand is...the hay doesn't seem to have gone to seed this seed is it possible that if I can pull most of it up by the roots I'll have a good chance of eliminating in one season? Or is this wishful thinking?

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Each teaspoon of soil contains perhaps thousands of seeds-mostly weed seeds. Nature abhors a vaccum, so as soon as the ground is cleared of one plant cover type, another, or even the very same one, get going on refilling the area. Is there turf in place? If so, it is relatively easy to get rid of broadleaved weeds via the appropriate herbicide. Then, if there are unwanted grasses in the remaining matrix, it becomes a bit trickier to deal with those, but not impossible.

I'd be better able to help you if I understood a little more about what your over-arching goal is.


    Bookmark   October 15, 2013 at 9:38AM
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I don't really have a plan but I know what i don't want and that helps. This place is in the Appalachian mtns. Very very rocky. They apparently had to blast a giant outcrop to build the house. Much of the rock remaining from the blasting was left in place and covered by what appears to be topsoil and then hay which was full of seeds! There is a large area behind the house at the bottom of a slope where the septic is located. This is all grass...don't know what type but left alone it grows tall and it's very patchy probably where the rocks poke through to the surface. Around the grassy area, there's a perimeter that was cleared and strewn w/hay. This is very rocky...where there are no rocks there are clusters of golden rod, dogbane and some other somewhat invasive-y species...I don't mind these so-called weeds...they feed the bugs, butterflies, birds etc and I'm not trying for a tidy garden. Then there are patches of hay between the patches of golden rod (etc) and NOTHING can grow here. I want to get rid of the hay and let some native grasses establish themselves among the rocks....I was thinking of putting in some ferns but most of the trees were removed and most of the area is in full sun.

So to answer your question...I believe the area over the septic is turf-y but where the hay is I don't want "turf" grass...I want a mess of native grasses and wildflowers. Also clearing the area of weedy plants like dogbane is not an option as the area used to be wooded and bloodroot, cohosh (blue and black) and other woodland plants occasionally pop up....I don't want to wipe these out!

Although there's a lot of it and it is time consuming it seems pretty easy to pull the hay out by its roots....though I'm not sure if I should be doing that as I am providing light and space for the next generation of hayseeds? Should i pull the hay or not?

    Bookmark   October 15, 2013 at 1:53PM
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That's what I'm not getting, the "pulling the hay" bit. At least in these parts, hay is an already chopped, usually baled forage for livestock to eat during the winter. It can consist of anything from high quality stuff like alfalfa, to reed canary grass that somebody baled up.

So.......I take it you've got some type of grass or grasses, and that this grass is impeding or outright preventing anything else from taking root. If I'm getting closer, and if the grass or grasses are such thuggish things as reed canary, or even some of the bluegrasses, it will become necessary to get them under control somehow. Herbicides are a frequent and important tool in such projects. Sometimes, there can be a window of time during which your more desired species are dormant but also during which the offending grass species are in growth mode and therefore, sprayable.

Another tool that can aid in bringing about positive changes in the species composition is fire, although fire usually ends up favoring warm-season grasses, things like big bluestem, Indian grass, switchgrass, etc. These grasses can coexist with other native forbs. If the goldnerod you've got is one or the other of giant or Canada, these too are quite "thuggish" albeit native in their own right.

I think bottom line is, you need to get a handle on just exactly what species are there. Then we can make intelligent comments on possible management techniques. I like the fern idea and have myself introduced such vigorous and colony-forming species as ostrich fern, sensitive fern, and others into the proper environment, which can even be full sun so long as there is seepage or other freely available moisture.


    Bookmark   October 18, 2013 at 9:48AM
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Thanks for the input. I know nothing about grass....if someone could tell me how to identify this stuff I'd probably sound a bit more coherent. All I know is that this stuff was brought onto the property in bales. It was then spread over the bare dirt and as there was seed in w/it, this seed germinated. There were some left over bales on the periphery of the property that's why I determined it was "hay". It seems to have a very distinct growth period from about June til Sept. I leave for the summer and it has not come up yet but when I get back in Sept it is 4ft tall! The deer trample it so it lies in a thick blanket over the soil and anything that has not come up before this "hay" just doesn't come up at all. We were in drought conditions over the summer and this grass seems to have prevented what rain there was from reaching the ground and the ground is as dry as a bone!

I don't mind the golden rod...even though much of it is the invasive kind because that still seems to stay in clumps and coexists w/other species. Ferns wouldn't have a chance w/the hay grass. I actually put a couple of ferns in and they just didn't have enough light or moisture w/this stuff on top of them!

So, I don't think the hay/grass in question is alfalfa but I'll compare it to pics of reed canary and blue...I really am curious as to what it is...any other ideas?

PS looked at pics online of canary and blue's not like these either!

This post was edited by adidas on Fri, Oct 18, 13 at 22:11

    Bookmark   October 18, 2013 at 6:22PM
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