Who do I remove Northeastern Sedge from my native wildflower meadow?


I’ve been working with NRCS in establishing a native wildflower meadow on my property. The field is around 0.15 acres. I am in year two and Northeastern Sedge has taken over the field. Any suggestions? I thought about burning the field this fall and reseeding during frost heaving conditions. 


Jonathan Foster, Home Horticulture Outreach Professional

Kudos to you on your efforts to create a native wildflower meadow.

Northeastern sedge (Carex cryptolepis) is a native species, with many benefits in the ecosystem. That said, if it has established itself in your meadow and is crowding out other species, it can prove a tricky plant to remove. Because it’s perennial, it’s going to be putting seed into your soil as well as spreading underground via an extensive rhizome network–burning the field might take care of the former, but I worry it might not be effective in getting at the crowns and roots. This also makes manual removal difficult. I would definitely recommend mowing as much of it as you can without damaging the meadow at large, in order to keep the seed bank at least from getting out of hand–but again, that won’t necessarily control the underground portions of the plant (though few plants will survive a concerted, diligent, long term effort to keep them from photosynthesizing by removing their leaves).

I did find this Texas A&M Univ Extension page on controlling sedges that recommends a few chemical control options, though they are systemic and broad spectrum and will affect other plants, as well. If you are at the point of burning the whole field, it might be effective to do so, then apply the herbicide to the emerging sedges (and other plants), but know that this is a something of a “starting fresh” approach to your meadow. It might be worth talking to a ME-licensed pesticide applicator to know other options, on site.

I should also note that the presence of sedge may indicate proximity to a wetland, which introduces restrictions on pesticide use, so it may be valuable to consult the state regulatory agency (the Maine DEP) before proceeding.

I’m sorry not to have a firmer answer for you, but I wish you good luck and happy gardening, nonetheless.