After a nearly three year hiatus, our team of intrepid volunteers gathered in Cuesta La Honda to tackle new and old pampas/jubata grass plants. Evidence of the heroic work this group has done is the absence of hundreds of plants along Highway 84, Stage Rd and in Cuesta. Not that plants haven’t crept up here and there, but with many people alert to the baby plants as they sprout up, they are quickly removed. There are still a number of plants on private property that continue to bloom, but we have managed to control the roadways and public areas.
This year it was time to revisit La Honda proper, and the several hotspots known to us from previous years. A scouting trip was planned to take inventory and develop a game plan. We re-affirmed our permission to remove or control plants on Guild property and spoke with several landowners for their permission. Though this grass is considered a beautiful ornamental by many (myself included), there are other varieties available that are not invasive and equally beautiful. Workdays were scheduled for mid-October and early November.
This was a little late in the season to tackle the plants as seeds were already starting to fly off and disperse. Careful handling of the flowers kept distribution to a minimum as the plumes were bagged. The rest of the foliage was trimmed with a hedge trimmer and pick-axes were used to dig up and overturn the shallow root ball.
More than 30 plants were removed, and plumes removed from half a dozen more. Some plants are so large and difficult to reach it can be a multi-year project to remove them entirely. One strategy is to control the seeds each year in the fall until the plants either die or are removed. Another strategy is to return to the plants every month or two and keep all new growth trimmed away. The plants eventually give up. This is particularly effective on steep slopes and areas where erosion is an issue and removal of the plants could cause problems. The plants don’t flower, but the roots remain in the soil holding things together.
If you are interested in joining us on future adventures, or would like info about non-invasive ornamental grasses, please contact Neil Panton at (650) 726-2499 or email@example.com.
(Also published in The La Honda Voice, October 2020.)
Protecting the San Gregorio Watershed.