How to remove ornamental grasses?
September 9, 2009 11:55 AM   Subscribe

I'm being offered $100 to remove "Ornamental Grasses", any experience with the removal of plants would be greatly appreciated. I need the money, badly, I just have never done this kind of work before.

I'm being told that it will be a b**** of a job and that I should be able to do it with a shovel. Brief googling is telling me that people have needed hatchets and axes to get rid of the roots of these plants.

Have you ever had any experience removing this sort of plant?

I believe they just want it gone.

I'm just curious to know how I can prepare for tomorrow.

Thanks MeFi!?
posted by guptaxpn to Home & Garden (11 answers total)
Spud Fork and Pulaski are 2 tools that would come in very handy if you can borrow them somewhere.
posted by buggzzee23 at 12:06 PM on September 9, 2009

Hard work really! Or use Roundup if you are not averse to using a weedkiller.

This forum will give you some idea.

"I have dug up several large clumps with the help of a friend. It's a good workout, varying in difficulty depending on the species and cultivar, but very doable by two women. I'm a 62 year old woman and my helper was 53. The toughest one to remove/move was Molinia 'Skyracer'. Use an axe to cut up the clumps once they're loose."
posted by lungtaworld at 12:06 PM on September 9, 2009

Is it a Pampas grass? If it is, $100 is not worth it.

To attack it, cut it down to within a couple of feet from above the ground. The leaves are sharp and they will cut you. Then use a pickaxe to chop through the roots in a circle around the plant. Dig down so you have access to the rest of the roots underneath, and repeat. You'll probably need a rope of some kind to get round it. I had to use an iron bar and lever it out. Cutting down a 50-foot conifer was easier.

Good luck.
posted by Solomon at 12:14 PM on September 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Honestly, I just got done doing a lot of this exact kind of work over the summer and there really isn't an effective shortcut. I should know; I'm a lazy bastard and spent most of the time trying to find one. :)

Your best bet is a good "sharp shooter" style shovel and a nicely weighted hatchet to get any stubborn roots. Try cutting the grass out in squares with the shovel, then get up under it with the shovel and lever it out.

For the love of cheese, make sure to wear good work gloves. Blisters from shoveling tend to linger.
posted by Willie0248 at 12:27 PM on September 9, 2009

It's pretty harsh work, but if you need the cash, it's probably worth it. The above advice so far mirrors my experiences: Gloves, long sleeves, a hat, safety glasses, and by the time you're done you'll want to have just burnt the damn thing to the ground.
posted by Rendus at 12:34 PM on September 9, 2009

Look into a "landscape bar" or "tamper bar", basically a 6 foot long 1" steel bar with a pointy end which is great for jamming down into the roots and prying like Hell on. Seconding the gloves.
posted by ecurtz at 12:36 PM on September 9, 2009

Do you have to dispose of the refuse yourself or will they take care of it?
If you have to dispose it it, where will you take it and how much will it cost you?

gloves and a hat and lots of water
you will be sore and bloody
posted by bottlebrushtree at 12:56 PM on September 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Yes to all of the above, and nthing the recommendation to chop it down to a manageable level first! Even grasses besides pampas, such as miscanthuses (maiden grasses), zebra grass, hell even Japanese arrow grass... they have all got a bite if they hit you the wrong way. Also, many of them have tiny little barbs that stick in the wound and make it hurt out of all proportion to its size. Imagine the worst paper cut in the world, complete with lemon juice.

So yeah. Be careful, and you might want to have some topical disinfectant/analgesic/anti-itch on standby, just in case.
posted by WidgetAlley at 1:21 PM on September 9, 2009

Also, watch out for critters like snakes & such as a big clump of pampas provides good protection for them.

And please by all means make sure that you get explicit instructions on exactly which clumps of grass are to be removed. I recently hired a relative newbie yardguy (although quite eager and professional) to remove a couple of tall skinny oaks that had grown up into my foundation shrubbery bed and he "inadvertantly" took out a huge beautiful established 20 yr old holly as well! "I'm sorry", he said. "I think I cut down one of your other shrubs by mistake." Arrrgghhhhh!!
posted by ourroute at 3:10 PM on September 9, 2009

BTW my great-aunt recently paid 5k for her yard to be cleaned up. Try not to get ripped off to often.
posted by uni verse at 4:12 PM on September 9, 2009

Oh, dear - warm wishes for all the best. Yes, gloves - good ones. A good, sharp shovel with "shoulders" to put your foot on. Hard-soled boots - NOT sneakers. And some tiger balm for afterward. I spent three hours last Saturday removing a 2x5 foot section of overgrown, dense daylilies that had eight years to multiply, and I still have another bed to do this weekend, and I'm discouraged and hurtin'. I did water the hard, dry ground a bit to soften it beforehand. It made it muddier, but easier. And if I had to pay myself to do both beds? I'd pay you $100 to do it. Perhaps they will give you cold refreshing beverages and nice snacks too.
posted by peagood at 5:56 PM on September 9, 2009

« Older Where is a website where I can download an...   |   looking for a twitter app for the iphone Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.