Remove Pampas Grass: Tips For Pampas Grass Control And Removal
By: Susan Patterson, Master Gardener
Pampas grass is a popular landscape plant that is commonly seen in the home garden. Many homeowners use it to mark property lines, hide ugly fences or even as a windbreak. Pampas grass can grow quite large, over 6-foot (2 m.) with a 3-foot (1 m.) spread. Due to its size and numerous seeds, some people find pampas grass control a concern plus it is considered invasive in some areas. Thus, learning what kills pampas grass is important. Continue reading to learn how to remove pampas grass.
About Pampas Grass Plants
Pampas grass plants, native to Chile, Argentina, and Brazil, are perennial grasses that grow immensely large with saw-toothed leaves and large pink or white, showy plumes. Although many home gardeners plant pampas grass for its elegant appearance and hardy nature, it can become a problem in some areas. The grass is not picky about soil or sunlight but does best in some sun and loamy soil.
Pampas grass seeds freely and can eventually crowd out native plants. It can also create a fire hazard in some areas and interfere with grazing land. This is especially true in California, Africa, and New Zealand where pampas grass is clearly recognized as an invasive plant. Each plant can contain up to 100,000 seeds per flower head, which are quickly dispersed in the wind.
Cutting the grass down in the early spring encourages new growth the following season and can sometimes alleviate issues with seeds. Caution must be taken when working with pampas grass, however, as the leaves are exceedingly sharp and can cause razor-like cuts.
How Can I Get Rid of Pampas Grass?
Some people try to remove pampas grass manually only to find that it has a massive root system. Digging the grass up is not an entirely full proof way to rid your landscape of the grass. The best possible pampas grass control involves a combination of physical and chemical methods.
Because it is a grass, it is best to first cut it as close to the ground as possible. Once the grass is cut down, you can apply an herbicide. Several treatments may be necessary for established plants. For more information on what kills pampas grass, check with your local Cooperative Extension Office for advice.
Note: Chemical control should only be used as a last resort, as organic approaches are more environmentally friendly.
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Established ornamental grasses can have large, complex root systems. This makes digging them up a difficult process to complete successfully.
Firstly, cut the ornamental grass down to about 2 inches above the ground. This allows you to clearly see the plant’s spread. If the spread is particularly large, use a sharp shovel to divide the grass into several sections. Breaking it down like this enables you to remove a section at a time.
Once you can clearly see the plant, force a shovel into the ground beneath it. Make sure that the shovel is completely underneath the plant’s root system. Then pull the shovel up, scooping out the grass. This technique allows you to take up ornamental grass in large clumps.
If you find that the ornamental grass is hard to dig up, try drenching the roots with water. This softens the roots, and the surrounding ground, making it easier to manipulate and dig up the root system.
Dispose of invasive ornamental grasses in accordance with local laws. If the ornamental grass is not considered invasive then you can dispose of it in your green or garden waste or in your compost pile.
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Regardless of how well you think you’ve removed the root system, ornamental grass can be incredibly stubborn. Don’t be surprised if, the following spring, new shoots emerge. While this is frustrating, it does give you an indication of where the roots you missed the first time are. Simply dig out the roots, as above.
The area should now be completely free from ornamental grass.
Kill Pampas Grass
With its low maintenance requirements and ability to grow in areas where other plants cannot, pampas grass can quickly spread and become out of control. It grows between 6 and 10 feet tall in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 through 11. However, with determination it can be done. Forcefully jerk the grass out of the ground. Try to remove the entire root crown to reduce the chance of new plants sprouting. Bag all removed plants -- especially the ones that have gone to seed -- and send the bag to the landfill. Grasp several pampas grass stalks, bunching them together. Put on a pair of rubber gloves. Spray the cut stalks immediately with a ready-to-use herbicide containing glyphosate as the active ingredient. Repeat the treatment seven days later.
- Spray what remains of the pampas grass clump with a standard glyphosate-based herbicide.
- Dig out the dead pampas grass, or leave it in the ground to decompose.
Wear gloves and a long-sleeved shirt to protect yourself from the sharp edges of the pampas grass.
If you try to dig out a pampas grass clump while it is alive, you run the risk of leaving behind bits of live grass stems and roots that can grow into new pampas grass clumps. Glyphosate kills all vegetation, so avoid getting it on any plants that you wish to keep.
Is Growing Pampas Grass Worth the Effort?
The striking feathery blooms of pampas grass are respected by florists and gardeners alike. For decades unending, pampas grass has continued to decorate many events across the world. Its vintage look never grows old no matter the time, season, or year.
In our estimation, growing pampas grass is well worth the investment. Despite the hard work involved, no other grass creates dramatic beauty as pampas grass. Its tall feathery plumes blow gently in the breeze making it an impressive addition to any garden. Use it as a bordering line or to add a form to a larger piece of a garden and you will be impressed by the beauty!
Whwn to Prune Pampas Grass
Pampas grass like other ornamental grass grows fast and out of control too. You will need to prune it to keep it under control. Invest in a pair of good quality sharp hedge shears. You will use this to shear it down to the ground. Mid-February to late March is the best season to trim your pampas grass. If the grass is going out of control, you don’t have to wait until February to trim it.
Take extra care when pruning because it has sharp foliage that can cause bad cuts and scrapes. Protect yourself by wearing a long-sleeved shirt and a pair of thick gardening gloves. For best results, prune Pampas Grass every year.
Quick Reminder – Do not ever set this grass on fire because it is highly flammable and can burn everything around it very fast.
Read more about How to Prune a Peace Lily
Cortaderia selloana (Pampas Grass) are considered as one of the most beautiful ornamental grasses with many splendid qualities.
It adds colour and form to the garden from September until February, with striking feathery plumes which are held high above a dense clump of evergreen foliage.
Plant any of these late-flowering eye-catchers in a mixed border at the back where the flower plumes will stand proud. They are remarkably tough and adaptable but prefers an open, sunny spots with good air circulation and fertile, well-drained soil.
The only maintenance job is cutting back the flowering stems and old foliage in spring. A major advantage is that they are resistant to drought and freezing temperatures when established.
We recommend trying pampas grass with plants that have a more rounded or horizontal habit or whose purple-tinged foliage contrasts beautifully with the straw-coloured pampas grasses.