Types of Invasive Grass in Tennessee

Tennessee is the home of country music, but its country landscape is also home to several types of invasive grass species. These weeds can detract from your Tennessee backyard's groomed appearance and, if not kept in check, will also choke out desirable vegetation. A combination of manual and chemical controls is usually sufficient to control and kill the state's invasive grass species.

Chinese Silvergrass (Miscanthus Sinensis)

Tennessee isn't the only state afflicted with Chinese silvergrass. It's also present in North Carolina, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, according to Brown University. Common names for the grass include silvergrass and zebra grass. Because the grass spreads by rhizomes, complete removal is important; leaving behind pieces of a rhizome will result in new grass plants. Regular mowing can keep it controlled but may also encourage new rhizome growth. Spray the plant with a foliar herbicide in the spring and early summer before the plant's seeds have matured.

Congongrass (Imperata Cylindric)

Congrongrass reaches an impressive height of 6 feet or more, which makes manual removal more difficult than with smaller grass species. Gardeners can chop or more the grass down before removing the remaining base. The University of Tennessee recommends imazapyr as a chemical control solution, saying it's the most effective against this invasive species.

Japanese Brome (Bromus Spp.)

Tennessee hosts all types of the common Bromus grass, a summer annual that grows thin leaves covered in white down-like growths. Bromus tectorum, also known as downy brome or cheatgrass, is one of the commonly seen varieties, according to Brown University. Pre-emergent herbicides applied in the spring can keep seeds in the ground from germinating, while post-emergent herbicides like metribuzin can kill the grass. Gardeners should try to control the grass before April when it starts to produce seeds.

Giant Reed (Arundo Donax)

The giant reed grass is sold in commercial nurseries, according to Brown University. Gardeners who buy this perennial grass plant should ensure it doesn't escape their backyard's boundaries. The plant can reach an overwhelming height of more than 20 feet, hence its name. Landscapers should chop down the giant reed to a height of a couple feet, then allow the plant to grow new foliage before treating it with a standard systemic herbicide like glyphosate.

Keywords: Tennessee invasive grasses, Tennessee invasive plants, Tennessee grass pests

About this Author

Josh Duvauchelle is an editor and journalist with more than 10 years' experience. His work has appeared in various magazines, including "Honolulu Magazine," which has more paid subscribers than any other magazine in Hawaii. He graduated with honors from Trinity Western University, holding a Bachelor of Arts in professional communications, and earned a certificate in applied leadership and public affairs from the Laurentian Leadership Centre.