In Ontario, herbicide use is not permitted for use along the shoreline so non-native Phragmites is removed manually.  From mid-July to mid-August, workers use a spade to cut individual stalks of non-native Phragmites 3-5cm (1-2in) below the soil surface.  Completing work in August ensures the plants have not yet gone to seed.  Removing the top of the plant below the soil surface forces the plant to use energy reserves from the root system without the benefit of photosynthesis, ultimately weakening the clone.  Each property on the beach is 50, 75 or 100 feet wide and the distance between the tree line and the water is approximately 50 feet. Non-native Phragmites is selectively removed in these areas while minimizing the disturbance to surrounding soil and native plants. Plants that are removed are dried and burned or taken to the local composting facility.

This method is labour intensive and requires a longer timeframe than herbicide treatments, but  persistent, selective removal of the stalks has been shown to control the non-native Phragmites within 4 -5 years on Wymbolwood Beach.  In the five years since treatment began, some of the worst properties are now only 1/3 to 1/2 Phragmites but the stalks are dispersed among the native shrub willows and wildflowers. On all controlled properties, the plant is no longer present in monoculture stands, the stalks are interspersed within the native species.  For many properties, non-native Phragmites is almost completely gone, with just a few small plants that reappear each spring. As management continues, the native species continue to re-colonize.

No heavy equipment or special chemicals are required for this management, so it is accessible to residents and easy to conduct with little preparation. While some residents plough their beach to remove the non-native Phragmites, that method is not preferred because it does not support native plant populations and maintains a continuously disturbed site, perfect for new invasions.


Because herbicides are not permitted for use over water in Canada, WBA has created a manual treatment technique. Image courtesy of WBA.