Japanese Stiltgrass (Alias; Microstegium vimineum)
Japanese Stiltgrass escaped into the United States in the early 1900’s and is currently wreaking havoc from New York to Florida. Stiltgrass has been known to frequent back yards, stream banks, floodplains, moist woodlands, and roadsides. It favors soils that are acidic and grows well in many light conditions.
Once Stiltgrass gets a foothold, it quickly becomes a mono-culture and threatens the native ecology. It easily invades disturbed areas subject to mowing, heavy equipment and tilling. It is spread by deer and people on hiking trails, reaching further into the forest. It spreads to form dense stands of grass, displacing native wetland and forest vegetation.
Stiltgrass suppresses native plant and insect communities, and alters soil and water nutrients. Infested areas also have an increased occurrence of other invasive plants and decreased native wildlife habitat. Stiltgrass provides a suitable habitat for invasive animals, such as the cotton rat, which can further affect local wildlife.
Eradication: The internet will tell you to use herbicides targeted for crabgrass. Sure, you could try post-emergent controls, such as Calcium acid methanearsonate, or Ortho’s “Weed-b-Gon” Crabgrass killer for lawns, which contains 2,4-D.
Or you could just weed-whack the whole lot with a heavy duty weed-whacker like we have, rake it all up and return once a year before it goes to seed again. In a couple of years, your yard or woods will recover from this debilitating disease.
Stiltgrass eradication is still an emerging science. We are currently observing a plot where a replacement crop of Panicum and Indian Grass has been planted to prevent stiltgrass from returning. We also think heavily altering the soil ph would speed up recovery.