How should you dispose of Phragmites?

What are the best methods for disposing of Phragmites after treatment? There are several options available that can help prevent Phragmites from returning after treatment. 

How are managers in the Great Lakes region currently disposing of Phragmites after treatment? In spring 2019 we sent a question to the Phragmitesnet listserv asking for this information. Of the 57 responses received, 63% reported that they leave Phragmites in place, while 28% removed it from the site, and 9% removed seed heads only. Read below about disposal methods that are currently being used. Is there a method you use that isn’t listed here? Please let us know and we will add it to the site! 

Phragmites Removal

Stem Removal From Water

  • Collect cut stems into a barge or boat 
  • Move the stems to land

Stem Removal From Land

  • Tractors and backhoes can collect the Phragmites into piles

Disposal

Burying Phragmites

  • Effective burial requires about 70 cm (or 27 in) of soil over the Phragmites

  • Make sure the sediment is dry to prevent Phragmites re-sprouting

  • Nearby municipal dumps can also bury mounds under 70 cm without additional cost

Piling Phragmites After Cutting

  • Simply move piles to shore. When left high and dry, Phragmites won’t re-sprout. Bare rock or nearby shoreline are best. 

  • If mounds are large, use a barge to collect cut Phragmites and a backhoe to move them to a pile 

  • Any regrowth can be managed by hand pulling or backpack spraying

  • Piles also speed up decomposition; crushing stems with equipment will also help speed up decomposition

  • If you can’t move the cut material out of a wetland, moving Phragmites into a pile can create areas of open water

  • If a field is nearby, you can also leave these mounds and burn them during the prescribed fire’s season

Burning

  • Burning dead Phragmites is an effective method to clear out a large amount of biomass

  • Cutting down stems isn’t necessary for this method

More Resources

A Guide to the Control and Management of Invasive Phragmites

By the Michigan Department of Natural Resources 

Invasive Phragmites Best Management Practices

By the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources

A Landowner’s Guide to Phragmites Control 

By the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality

Michigan Citizen’s Guide to Invasive Plant Disposal

Produced by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy

Clean Equipment Protocol for Industry

By the Ontario Invasive Plant Council

Play Clean Go

Best practices for decontamination for campers, trail users, homeowners, and field workers

Sample sanitation protocol for contractors

This summarized protocol was shared with us from the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. For this project, the Band removed invasive Phragmites from wastewater treatment plants with native phrag. They set stringent rules for the contractors to follow when removing the Phrag, transporting it to landfill, cleaning the concrete-lined beds of Phrag material, laying down substrate and plastic sheeting on the bottom of the beds, and planting the native Phragmites. There is a 400 page document describing this protocol in detail, but this is the summary. Thank you to the Red Cliff Band for sharing this excellent work! 

VIDEO: Cleaning Boats and Equipment to Prevent Aquatic Invasive Species in Michigan

By the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality

Best Practices for Invasive Plant Management Planning

Land Manager’s Guide to Developing an Invasive Plant Management Plan

By the US Fish and Wildlife Service and California Invasive Plant Council 

How to Restore Phragmites-invaded Wetlands

By Rohal et. al from Utah State University

A Manager’s Guide to Roadside Revegetation Using Native Plants

By the Federal Highway Administration (2007)

Check out our page on Native vs. Non-native Phragmites. The following resources are also available from external sources:

Phragmites Field Guide: Distinguishing between native and exotic forms of Common Reed (Phragmites australis) in the United States

By Jil Swearingen and Kristen Saltonstall (2010)

Phragmites: Native or Not? 

By Michigan Sea Grant

VIDEO: Native or Introduced? Identification of Phragmiteslineages in North America

By Dr. Kristin Saltonstall of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (2015)

VIDEO: Dr. Dan Carter Explains How to Identify Native Phragmites

By the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (2016)

Common Reed & Coastal Environments

By the Lake Huron Coastal Centre

Fact Sheet: A Healthy Marsh

By Michigan Sea Grant

  • The biology of Canadian weeds. Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin. Ex Steud, by Drs Mal and Narine is a comprehensive review of litterature on Phragmites biology and population dynamics, historic progression in North-America, andcontrol and management strategies.
  • Read more about the Michigan Sea Grant restoration projects in Lake St. Clair coastal wetlands (St. John’s Marsh, Lake St. Clair Metropark, and Harrison Township) here. 
  • Glyphosate Fact Sheets (General & Technical): Two levels of detail on glyphosate, one of the most common herbicides used for Phragmites management, from the National Pesticide Information Center. The technical fact sheet contains information about surfactants as well.
  • Invasive Phragmites: a fact sheet developed by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources presents the negative impacts associated with Phragmites progression and provides tips to distinguish native and non-native Phragmites.
  • Invasive Phragmites Fact Sheet by Huron Pines with biological information as well as information about control options.
  • Non-native Phragmites Fact Sheet by the Great Lakes Commission, presents an overview of the current extent of Phragmites invasion across the Great Lakes Basin, lists associated impacts and provides links to management plans and useful resources for each of the Great Lakes states and provinces.
  • Phragmites resources by the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative include fact sheets, external links and resolutions passed the the organization.
  • Plant Profile for Phragmites australisby the Natural Resources Conservation Service provides information on taxonomy and distribution.
  • Why Should I Care About Invasive Species? A good overview of the impacts of invasive species in the Midwest by the Midwest Invasive Plant Network (MIPN)