Tall fescue grass (Festuca arunduacea) is a cool season perennial grass native to Europe, introduced to NZ as a forage grass for animals and also for lawns. Is known as a ‘bunch grass’ and grows into thick swathes and prevents natural regeneration of native species where it dominates, it can grow up to 1.2 meters.
Paremata Flat Reserve is dominated by Tall fescue, it was decided to prevent it out competing our native plantings and to encourage natural regeneration of native species ‘seed bank’ by controlling the Tall Fescue by way of spraying with Glyphosate (Roundup).
Due to the generosity of ‘Nufarm NZ Ltd‘ who are supplying us with Roundup, we have implemented a control programme which will continue for the next 2/3 years until planted native trees grow and shade out the grass.
Having now been planting at Paremata for over three years the spray programme to control Tall Fescue has dropped dramatically, as we move the planting out into the grazed area, after an initial blanket spray we require minimal ongoing spraying as Tall Fescue does not dominate but rather a variety of grazing grasses which are not as tall growing as Tall Fescue slowly return.
After the initial knock down spraying is reduced to spot spraying, specifically targeting any Tall Fescue and other weeds which may dominate a new planting, the use of hooked slasher is utilised in some areas where single stemmed weeds may dominate. We are finding a “good” weed called Fleabane is beginning to dominate after spraying, why is it good?, in our situation it is a single stemmed plant, growing to over a meter but allowing dappled light to reach the ground, gives protection to our native plantings from the wind, prevents evaporation and most importantly dies back over the winter.
As the new plantings grow the amount of spraying will ultimately come to an end due to the process of shading.