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Beware of Pampas Grass

by Alex Russel, All About Lawns Columnist

Pampas grass grows quickly and flowers nicely, but despite its convenience, pampas can aggressively take over your garden. If you can, it's probably best to live without it.

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New landscaping often requires a few years to come to life. Shrubs and trees take time to grow. So it's only understandable that new homeowners get a little impatient waiting. And one of the most common cures for the wait is pampas grass.

Pampas Grass - A Tall Grass With Flowers

A large perennial grass, native to South America, pampas grass grows in large clumps eight to ten feet high. In the summer it can bear silvery-white or pinkish silken plumes that grow up to 12 feet high.

Some have purple flowers and still others are smaller plants that grow four to five feet tall. The variety Cortaderia selloana 'pumula' is a dwarf form with very narrow grass-like leaves.

Pampas Grows... And Grows

If dry sunny conditions are common, pampas grass grows like no other grass type. In a very short time a whole house can go from being totally exposed to cozily secluded.

But the pampas grass tide is hard to turn back. With plants that produce millions of seeds, pampas grass has a remarkable ability to reach distant open spaces and blanket them with very rapid growth. Lawns and flowerbeds are quickly overcome.

Dangerous Sharp Leaves

And problems don't stop there. Pampas's leaves are notoriously sharp. If you must plant pampas grass, avoid planting near walkways where blades will cut the innocent passers-by. And be warned: sometimes its dense impenetrable bushes provide habitat for rats and mice.

With all that required caution, the pampas grass fix seems hardly worth the trouble. In fact, if you search for pampas grass on the Internet, one of the first sites that pops up is the National Park Service web page, encouraging you not to grow it.


About the Author
Alex Russel is a freelance writer living in Brooklyn, NY. Since graduating from Syracuse University he has worked at many different media companies in fields as diverse as film, TV, advertising, and journalism. He holds a dual bachelor's degree in English and History.

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