Monday, September 26, 2011
Johnson Grass War, Round 2
One of the "gifts" left to us by the previous owners of the house is a mess of Johnson grass where the old lagoon used to be. I can only suppose that it came in with a load or two of "topsoil" when the lagoon was filled in...about a year before we bought the house.
Greg's been spraying the Johnson grass regularly with Round-up over the last 4 years, but it hasn't seemed to have much effect. This year he didn't get around to spraying it at all...but it's the one area where the drought and the grasshoppers actually helped us a bit: the drought kept the Johnson grass from growing wildly, and the grasshoppers seemed to love the newly developing flower/seed heads.
After 4 years, there's still about the same square footage covered by the Johnson grass as when we moved in, but the overall area it's in has spread outwards. The grass is no longer a solid mass; it's more scattered about. New clumps are developing out in the prairie grasses nearby, and I am bound and determined to halt the spread of this obnoxious invader before it moves any further.
So, with nicer weather, I've decided to try a different tack. A lower tech, lower cost, higher personal investment sort of way, compared to Round-Up. Yesterday I took a large black plastic bag, a pair of gloves and a pair of clippers, and I started to attack the mess using good, old fashioned methods: by deadheading (and throwing away the seedheads) to remove as many seeds as possible, followed by pulling out or cutting off as much of the biomass as possible.
A couple hours sufficed to let me deadhead all but about 2 dozen plants near the center of the old lagoon. (We've made a burn pile there, so some of the seed heads are currently inaccessible without clambering up on top of a tottering pile of branches and dried weeds.) It took almost 2 full bags to hold all of the seed heads. At least those puppies won't be starting new infestations next spring!
Today I started pulling out some of the plants. I've filled a wheelbarrow with stalks and as much of their root system as I could get...but I've only managed to pull out an estimated 5% of the Johnson grass so far. Every little bit I can get rid of gets me a little bit closer to my goal of eradicating this junk from our yard. I know that I'm not getting all of the root system, and therefore I know that the Johnson grass will return. However, I'm hoping that I'm weakening it overall and it will return with less vigor. At which point I'll attack it again. I strongly suspect that I'll be reporting about this battle for several years to come!