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Knowledgebase record #492


PAL Question

Our home in Seattle came with a large number of established Yucca plants, and we would like to get rid of them. However, they are quite stubborn. We've tried a few things, including digging them up, but the root system seems quite deep and extensive and they always come back, and quickly! Any suggestions? I've thought they were non-native, but I guess they could be the sort that are found in eastern WA. Are there invasive species here in western Washington?

Answer

As you have observed, Yucca is very difficult to eradicate completely. Most of the literature on the subject suggests using herbicide, but even this may be ineffective, which makes the risk of using harmful chemicals to control the plant seem even less worthwhile. There are quite a few informal discussions on how to get rid of this plant on various online gardening forums, and one mentions local gardening expert Ciscoe Morris's method for getting rid of unwanted Yucca:

"...he cut it back to ground level and put a couple of squares of heavy cardboard over it, piled on some compost/bark to hide the cardboard. I'm not growing yucca, but he said it really worked for killing it without breaking your back. Leave in place for a year."

The technique described here is called sheet mulching. This involves laying down overlapping layers of cardboard and then covering thickly with leaves, compost, and other materials. Agroforestry.net offers information on how to do this. StopWaste.org provides additional helpful information.

You may want to try a different approach, because current thinking is that sheet mulching with cardboard is not effective or a good idea. Freely available arborist wood chips make a good mulch, and if laid thickly enough over the area, they should help suppress regrowth of the Yucca.

Yucca is not (yet) considered invasive in our state. Here are links to information on locally noxious weeds.
Washington Noxious Weed Control Board.
King County's Noxious Weed Control Program.

Keywords: Sheet mulching, Yucca, Wood chips
Date: 2007-07-11

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