stilt grass invasion
stilt grass has overrun a perennial wild flower garden. It's ready to pull b4 it goes to seed. I'll probably lose some smaller new flowers in the process. What do you suggest I plant once the stilt grass is up and the fresh dirt is exposed. I have various wild flower seeds in the freezer and dark storage. Should I lightly fertilize the soil and sow the seeds now .. in storage i have Black Eyed Susan, Some assorted color Dames Rocket ( that was intended to go down by the road near stream bank to fend off weeds there. And some wild flower mix. what do you suggest. I can also dress the soil with rich top soil from out woods. This area is rocky and poor soil ( in my opinion ) One photo is the base soil after pulling up some stilt grass, the other is the garden. Would wicking the stilt grass after pulling it up near any visible flowers work Its a pain and pulling might be faster? Using round up near flowers is risky. Would torching the larger patches take out the stilt grass and allow any perennials to come back? ( and re-seed ) During the spring there were lots of early flowers. You wouldn't know it now. The stilt grass has overrun anywhere there is bare spot in the woods, like paths and open areas. that I'll spray off with a sprayer. Many Thanks! Wayne
Carroll County Maryland
Hand pulling stilt grass is a good method to control early infestations. If you had an established stand of this weed that went to seed previously, then you may be dealing with a seed bank in the soil. Hand pulling and tilling will cause disturbance to the soil, which may bring up new seeds, giving them good conditions to germinate. It's a tricky situation. Use of an herbicide (wicking the grass) would kill the plants in place with minimal disturbance to the soil.
Then you might want to cover the area with a fresh layer of leaf compost (again, minimizing soil disturbance). Plant you wildflowers seeds in the compost layer.
We do not recommend planting Dame's Rocket (Hesperis matronalis), as it is invasive in wild areas of Maryland and displaces native plants. https://www.nps.gov/plants/alien/pubs/midatlantic/hema.htm
Black-eyed susans (Rudbeckia sp.) grows easily from seed sown in the fall or spring. https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=ruhi2
You might also consider planting purple coneflowers, bee balm, asters, milkweed, and/or mountain mint. There are many other good choices that can be found at the Chesapeake Native Plant Center website.
There are other good choices listed here: https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/earth-friendly/recommended-native-plants-maryland