Ornamental Grass – an Invasive Weed in Pastures
Over the last five years, there has been an increased incidence of ornamental grasses invading pastures. Ornamental grasses used in landscapes produce seeds that are often fluffy and easily dispersed by wind. After germinating from seeds, the clumps of grass develop an extensive root system that allows the plant to regrow every season.
Ornamental grasses grow during warm weather, so new shoots typically emerge in late spring and die back after freezing weather occurs in the fall.
This invasive grass is a problem in pastures because most animals will not graze it. The new leaves that emerge in spring are tender enough that they may be grazed, but these quickly grow into tough leaves that are not palatable to livestock.
It is possible to identify the plant in the spring before it produces seeds. One distinguishing characteristic of this invasive grass is its extremely flat stems. Another is the toughness of the stems and leaves. And another identifying trait is that the plant’s leaf blades will appear frazzled at the top following mowing.
Repeated mowing during spring through fall will help keep the grass from spreading further and may reduce the population somewhat. It is important not to let the plants produce seeds that can be the source of even more problems.
When there are only a few plants present, digging them out is the best control option – make sure to dig out the entire root system. In many cases, spot sprays of herbicides may be warranted.
Written by Traci Missun, Oldham County Agriculture & Natural Resources Agent.