Removing Pampas Grass without herbicides

Asked May 11, 2018, 10:35 AM EDT

Hello There, I have aggressive pampas grass taking over my garden, about 15 square feet of space. As far as I can tell, it's primarily spreading by deep seated roots under a layer of weed guard sheet. Picking the new shoots in spring doesn't seem to control the spread so I must remove the whole plant. However it's close to my apple trees and other edibles so I cannot use herbicides. What are the best practices? Thank You!

Hennepin County Minnesota

3 Responses

The aggressive grass would not be pampas grass as that is not hardy in our climate and the winter weather would kill it. Without actually seeing it I can only guess. It may be quack grass (solid green) or ribbon grass (green and white). Either way, if you cannot use herbicides your only choice is to remove the fabric and dig up the entire area and remove all traces of the roots. You will have to carefully sift through the soil because any remaining trace of a root will start a new plant all over again. I had to do that a couple years ago when quack grass invaded my vegetable garden. I removed any plants I wanted to keep. Put them in a temporary spot and then replanted them later when the area was clean. Sorry. There is no magic I can tell you.

Thank you Barbara! I wasn't expecting a magical solution, but it's nice to know hard work will make a difference with time. I'm not sure what the grass is since it was already established when we purchased the house. Obviously the previous owners tried controlling it with a weed guard fabric, but it doesn't care in the slightest and just grows right through. It grows up green about 5-6 feet tall, then turns yellow in the fall and sports giant feathery plumes. I was told by others it was a type of ornamental pampas, but I am not versed in grasses :-). I know it's a problem grass since I see it growing rampant in the western suburbs in the ditches.

What you have is the species version of miscanthus. It has escaped from some plantings and become an invasive grass. The miscanthus varieties sold at garden centers are not of the invasive types. Get that grass out of there and then enjoy your garden. Here is a link to the type of ornamental grasses that are sold at garden centers that do not take over.