Managing Invasive Japanese stilt grass

Japanese stilt grass will always require regular management to prevent it from overtaking our woodlands, lawn, and gardens. We’ve found specific routines help keep this highly invasive grass well controlled.

Young Japanese stilt grass

Japanese stilt grass.

These simple steps allowed us to reverse a massive stilt grass invasion in our Connecticut (zone 6) landscape:

  1. Monitor all garden beds, woodlands, under trees and shrubs frequented by birds from early summer through September for stilt-grass.
  2. Hand-pull all.
  3. Young plants that you pull – those that have not started to seed – can be left in place to dry and die.
  4. Any stilt grass that has begun to develop seed heads – anytime between mid-August to mid-September – must be disposed of in the trash. Do not add stilt grass or any invasive plant to your compost pile.
  5. Mulch areas where stilt grass has been found with shredded leaves or shredded hardwood to minimize regrowth from seeds in the soil.
Japanese stilt grass

Japanese stilt grass

Getting a large invasion of Japanese stilt grass under control was a multi-year effort using different techniques outlined in Tend to Japanese Stilt Grass NOW! back in 2013. Read this post for lots of info on this highly invasive plant.

The lawn area torched then had a wonderful regrowth of perennial lawn grasses. While small sections of stilt grass have regrown each year from seeds previously deposited in the soil, we’ve controlled these with mowing and hand-pulling.

Japanese stilt grass loves to grow along woodland edges. We found that maintaining a good six-inch layer of fallen leaves prevents most stilt grass from sprouting. The occasional stilt grass plant that does sprout is easily controlled by hand-pulling.

Vigilant trolling for mature Japanese stilt grass plants in September – when they are in seed – is most critical. Do not let stilt grass seeds mature. Each seed head can deposit up to 100 seeds in the soil. Each seed can be viable there for seven years.

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Compost squash

Things are still growing in joene’s gardens, in spite of the absence of recent posts. Again this season, volunteer plants grow in the compost bins, namely compost squash.

Like most home compost bins, mine become hot enough to decompose kitchen scraps, shredded leaves, and other plant material into rich compost. However, they do not get hot enough to kill all seeds. Therefore, I never add plant material with weed seeds, but  do add veggies with seeds and some perennials that have begun to produce seeds.

This results in volunteer lamb’s ear (Stachys), foxglove (Digitalis), lady’s mantle (Alchemilla), and other perennials showing up in places where I spread compost. These volunteers either get transplanted where needed or pulled.

Some volunteers, however, grow right out of the compost bins. Each season brings a surprise crop of some sort – usually squash – growing from seeds dumped into the bins the previous year.

The 2016 compost squash crop consists of volunteer butternut squash and pumpkin.

A butternut squash volunteer growing in a compost bin.

A butternut squash volunteer growing in a compost bin.

A volunteer pumpkin growing in a compost bin.

A volunteer pumpkin growing in a compost bin.

What a nice surprise after previous years of prolific gourd vines of growing from the same bins! While it was nice to use virtually free gourds as autumn decorations, it will be much more fun turning this year’s compost squash into soup and pie.

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