At a glance, pampas grass looks like a plant that every homeowner should have. It is a beautiful oriental plant that can even provide an excellent privacy fence.
However, it can be a disaster waiting to happen. The grass is very invasive and is extremely difficult to get rid of.
But while it is hard to eradicate, it is not impossible. So, how can you permanently get rid of it?
The most effective way to get rid of pampas grass is by using herbicides. You can also dig up the grass by hand (or with the help of gardening tools) if it has not spread too much.
In this article, we will take a detailed look at the pampas, why it is so invasive, and how to get rid of it. We will also offer you tips on how to make the eradication of this stubborn plant a bit easier.
An overview of the pampas grass plant
Pampas grass is the local name of the Cortaderia Selloana plant. It is native to South America, particularly the temperate regions of Argentina, Brazil, and Chile.
Pampas grass is a fast and high-growing plant that is recognized by its large, pink, or white plumes. It also has beautiful, saw-toothed, and curved leaves. On top of that, it is known for its hardy nature, often doing well even in adverse climates.
Why is destroying pampas grass so difficult?
Pampas grass is one of the hardest weeds to get rid of. First of all, it is a perennial plant that will withstand harsh climatic conditions.
It also grows in clumps with roots that develop deep into the ground – sometimes up 3.5 meters. Getting rid of the grass means uprooting even the root systems – which is a challenging task.
The other thing that makes pampas grass hard to control is its quick proliferation. A single plant can bear more than a million seeds in its lifetime. The seeds are easily distributed by farm equipment or by sticking on shoes.
On top of that, the seeds can be blown away by the wind, or carried by farm vehicles, traveling several miles away. To make the situation worse, they are self-sowing and will sprout on almost any soil they land on.
Once it sprouts in an area, it will compete for nutrients with native plants, and quickly displace them. It is for this reason that pampas grass has been banned in places such as Hawaii.
How to get rid of pampas grass?
Getting rid of pampas grass is difficult, but possible. Below is a look at various solutions for removing the weed from your garden:
1. Removal by hand
If the grass is in the early stages of growth, removal by hand is one of the possible solutions. Simply grab the grass clumps from the base and pull them upwards.
Ensure you remove the entire plant – including the root systems – to prevent it from sprouting back.
If you are having trouble removing the entire plant you can try loosening the soil by watering it. You can also use tools such as a shovel or gardening fork to dig up the plant.
Note: Make sure you wear protective gear to protect you from the sharp leaves and the seeds.
2. Using herbicides
If pampas grass has taken over your garden, using chemical herbicides is the best solution. But unlike other weed plants, it is advised to cut the grass down first. Doing so allows you to apply less herbicide, and with more accuracy.
So, which is the best way on how to cut pampas grass? Well, several options are available, such as mowing or using gardening shears, machete, among other weeding tools. The ideal length of cut is about 2 inches from the ground.
Once you are done cutting, collect the cut grass using garbage bags and dispose properly (at a landfill). This will prevent the seeds from spreading and sprouting new plants.
After that, you can proceed to apply herbicide. Weed killers with Haloxyfop or Glyphosate as active ingredients, for example, Roundup are the best solution.
For herbicide application, follow the instructions on how to dilute the chemical. Then, using a sprayer, apply it to the top and sides of the cut grass. Monitor the plant for one or two weeks and reapply the chemical if it is not yet dead.
Note: It can take two or more applications to kill pampas grass depending on how well established it is.
3. Hiring a weed management professional
Has pampas grass spread too far in your garden? Or are you finding it impossible to control it on your own? In such a case, you might want to consider hiring a weed management specialist.
Most landscapers offer weed control services, so your local landscaping company might be a good place to start.
Hiring a professional will save you time, and ensure that the grass is eradicated completely from your home.
However, pampas grass removal costs might be high, especially if they use specialized tools and equipment. For example, a tractor or tiller to dig up the root systems.
FAQs about pampas grass control
Have more questions regarding pampas grass eradication? Here are a few commonly asked questions and their answers:
Will vinegar kill pampas grass?
Applying vinegar on pampas grass is a possible natural solution for controlling it. The acid in the solution can burn the leaves of the plant, causing it to die.
However, it might not be the best solution – pampas grass is very hardy and can sprout back from the root systems. Therefore, you might need a large amount of vinegar for any chance at decent results.
Will bleach kill pampas grass?
Bleach is another solution for killing weeds, and it can work on pampas grass. There are several options when it comes to applying bleach:
- Mixing it with water
- Applying it undiluted
- Mixing with boiling water – boiling water will further burn the plant.
That being said, there are some drawbacks to using bleach. First of all, pampas grass can sprout back even with just the roots – if they remain untouched.
Secondly, it is an unselective weed killer that will kill any other plants. It will also kill beneficial worms and microbes in the soil.
Can you get rid of pampas grass using salt?
Salt is another natural remedy you can use to kill pampas grass. The problem with this method is the hardy nature of the plant.
Therefore, a lot of it is needed to work. And using too much salt is only likely to damage your garden in the process.
Can you burn pampas grass?
If you are frustrated with other solutions, you can try burning pampas grass. However, this is just a short-term solution – the grass will sprout back from the roots after about 6 months. And more often than not, it will grow taller and stronger after burning.
Another drawback of burning the grass is that it is a fire hazard. It can easily catch and spread fire, especially in dry weather. Therefore, don’t try this in urban areas or regions that are prone to wildfires.
Pampas grass is a beautiful plant that can offer several aesthetic and functional benefits. However, the hoard of problems it creates is not worth these benefits on most occasions.
It is competitive and will quickly displace any native plants. Also, it proliferates at a high rate and is very stubborn to get rid of.
If left uncontained, the labor and cost to remove pampas grass can be very high. Luckily, with the above solutions and tips, you can be able to control and eradicate it.
More weed removal guides
- What is the best herbicide for wild violets?
- What will kill clover but not grass?
- How to get rid of broadleaf weeds
IW’s Chief Editor and a lover of green spaces.