Organic way to get rid of Bermuda grass

kathyp(z9 CA)February 5, 2006

Probably a hopeless cause, but is there any way to get rid of bermuda grass? We are trying to redo our back yard. It is currently full of rocks, concrete, rebar, and hard pack clay, all being slowly taken over by the bermuda grass my neighbor planted. Our plan is to till, rake, amend with topsoil and compost, however, I know if we till the bermuda grass into the soil, it will just keep growing. Any suggestions?



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sloppy_joe(8A/7B NC)

I sympathize! I bought a house w/ bermuda sod from the builder and wish now that I'd unrolled the sod immediately! I have not tested what I am about to describe, but I have heard it is effective & it sounds logical to me.

Spray the grass you want to kill with 10% vinegar (on a warm, sunny day). A couple of days later, use a sod cutter to remove the grass. Then till and cover the area with layers of newspaper, a couple inches of compost, and then mulch on top of that.

It sounds like if all of this is coming from the neighbor's yard, you need some kind of barrier. I know there are bamboo barriers to contain running bamboos. I imagine that it would work well for bermuda, too, since the root-running-insanity is similar. I would make sure any barrier is adequately deep, because bermuda roots can go deep into the soil. The installation of these barriers might be difficult with the clay soil; maybe a professional could help.

I am not sure how realistic/feasible these suggestions are, so hopefully others will have some good ideas as well. Good luck...I hope you post your findings after you try a solution. I would love to know what actually works for this situation.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2006 at 9:11AM
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Yeah, the only way I know to stop it would be with something like a bamboo barrier... are you sure your neighbor PLANTED the bermuda grass? I thought in California, it just IS here. I hate the stuff.... hate it hate it hate it... :o)

    Bookmark   February 5, 2006 at 11:13AM
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Oooooo - I can't tell you how much I hate bermuda grass. But I have heard that trying to dig it up just turns over more seeds and roots and thus, more bermuda. I am going to try lasagne gardening over mine and hopefully the layering, as sloppy joe mentioned above (newspapers, top soil, manure, and mulch) will suppress it.

Oh, sorry - hi guys - newbie here from OKC. Don't/can't/won't use chemicals because I butterfly garden. Rather, nature takes care of itself if I just stand back and let it.


    Bookmark   February 5, 2006 at 1:59PM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

Vinegar is a home remedy which kills only top growth.

Bermudagrass has persistent rhizomes and stolons which will survive.

If you cover with lasagne or mulch, the Bermudagrass will love it!

Start digging and don't stop.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2006 at 3:30PM
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If you use 20% vinegar, it will kill the top growth alright, but if you keep repeating the application, eventually, it will die off.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2006 at 4:02PM
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rcnaylor(z7 Tex)

Here is my experience. Can't say that it answers your organic inquiry, but....

I had a side yard when I bought this house that had lots of bermuda in it. I started new beds with the lasagna method (newspaper and about a foot of organic matter on top). Yep, the bermuda came on through.

However, I then tried a different approach in the yard to switch if over to fescue. I sprayed it with (forgive me on the organic forum) Roundup every week for about 3 weeks while the stuff was growing like crazy in late July early August. Then I rented a sod cutter and set it at its deepest setting. That cut out all those stolons near the top. (Warning, it took a front end loader and dump truck to haul it all off). Then I tilled and sowed fescue. Really good results.

In another yard I have sprayed small areas of bermuda with Roundup, without cutting off the top couple of inches (like I did with the sod cutter) and it comes back from the stolons. In my experience it takes a 1-2-3 punch. Roundup, removal of top level and a good dense cover grass established to shade out what tries to come back.

It worked but its real work.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2006 at 4:10PM
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One summer I had good luck spraying it twice in 3 days with 20% vinegar.

I think the trick is to spray when it's brutally hot & brutally sunny, wait a couple of days & do it again, & then, a day or so after that, pull the grass out.

When the top growth shrivelled, the roots shrivelled too, which made it easier to pull or dig out.

Best luck, I'm still fighting it here.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2006 at 6:17PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

organic or not,

proper planning with round up is your best bet AND putting in barrier to keep bermuda out.

why do you have all the junks in the yard?

    Bookmark   February 5, 2006 at 10:05PM
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kathyp(z9 CA)

I was afraid I might have to use round up. Don't want to, but it may be my only hope of ever getting rid of the stuff! As for the junk - we just finished building a house, and the contractor was less then diligent about the workers cleaning up, so they just threw all their stuff in the yard, leaving it for us to clean later. there was also a lot of refuse from the former owners, who used their yard as a dump for the stuff the trash guy wouldn't take. You won't believe what we found in the yard!!

Thanks for all the input - gonna try the different ideas in different sections of the yard.


    Bookmark   February 5, 2006 at 10:45PM
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dereckbc(7a TX)

Well I have grown Bermuda lawns for about 30 or so years, a dedicated organic vegtable gardner, and a hybrid (synthetic fertizer) lawn keeper.

Time to look at reality. In So CA the climate is perfect for Bermuda. You will never win the battle, just not possible. Your best route is to wait until the weather is warm when the Bermuda is very actively growing then hit it with Round-Up, wait a week and hit it again. This will take care of it for a while, however Bermuda will set roots several feet deep that no herbicide will ever reach and will result in it showing back up down the road. At that point you can result to hand pulling and digging. Believe me it will be a life long battle.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2006 at 11:16PM
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Round Up and the other glyphosate products should not be brought up and discussed, much less advocated, in an organic gardening forum. There are other forums that are not organic where these products can be discussed and advocated.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2006 at 6:40AM
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Why do you want to get rid of the bermuda? As you described, it is tough as nails and asks little of you and will endure neglect, but not shade. I personally like my bermuda lawn. Roundup and glyphosate products are an effective last resort to control bermuda and it is perfectly acceptable to discuss these methods in any forum whatsoever as provided for in the U.S. Constitution.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2006 at 3:32PM
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kathyp(z9 CA)

OOPS! Sorry - didn't mean to get anyone upset. I want to get rid of/control the bermuda grass because it is already taking over my raised beds, and I fear that when we do the yard, it will take over the grass and plants that we want living there! It's growing up under the lasagna layers of the raised beds, and it's becoming harder to keep under control. From what I understand, 20% vinegar will not kill the stolons. I could have misinterpreted this. Here in Northern CA, bermuda turns brown over the winter, and isn't so pretty in the summer, either. Seems like no matter what we plant, there will be bermuda growing up into it.


    Bookmark   February 6, 2006 at 4:33PM
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well if its the raised beds that you care about then just lay down some cardboard real deep...i know bermuda is crazy and all but a covering of cardboard should do it...

    Bookmark   February 7, 2006 at 12:48AM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)



    Bookmark   February 7, 2006 at 8:59AM
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merrygardens(z5 MI)

I agree with Kimmsr. The person posted in the Organic Gardening forum for a reason, and the people on the forum are dedicated to methods that are organic and earth-friendly. Of course the constitution guarantees freedom of speech, but the forums assume people of goodwill will go along with prevailing wishes of the members and intent of the forum.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2006 at 3:57PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

I agree with kimmsr. Unfortunately the maximum penalty we can assess is a 15-yard penalty and the loss of a down.

Back to the don't want to till. That will guarantee you a mess. Instead get a guy with a tractor and a box blade (or landscaper's blade) to handle all that trash and level your lawn for you. It will be well worth the $300 or whatever it takes. He'll be out of there in an hour or two and leave you with a perfect planting surface.

SoCal is a huge place full of those USDA zones. When I come to power and own a forum like this I am going to REQUIRE that you cannot join in the fun UNLESS AND UNTIL you tell me where exactly you live. I consider SoCal to extend from Bakersfield to Santa Barbara to San Diego to Yuma, AZ which also includes Lake Arrowhead. Please help us with a little more specificity as to where you live.

If you live somewhere where you can grow St Augustine, it will choke out bermuda as long as you grow it tall and water it. I've had bermuda introduced to my lawn by plumbers who dug up my front to replace a pipe. The following season the bermuda was all gone. My neighbors around the corner renovated and planted bermuda. They took great care of it, but their neighbor's St Augustine crept in at about 10 feet per year and took over completely. Growing the St Aug tall is the key. It should be at least 3 inches and 4 or more if you can handle it. If you are not going to irrigate when the grass needs it, though St Aug will not work. It needs water when it needs water or it will die out.

Getting rid of it in a bed is a different issue. You will be on your hands and knees for many weekends, but it is not hard to do - just tedious and time consuming. Pay your kids if you don't want to do it yourself. After you get rid of it it is pretty easy to keep out with a solid barrier. I kept it out of my beds for 10 years with loose bricks and a weed eater. If I was recommending something for someone else, though, I would suggest using steel landscaping barrier buried at least an inch deep as well as weekly weed eating to keep it from going over the top. Or you could build a concrete curb type barrier. I have all these going between my neighbors and me.

Completely on the other hand, bermuda can be the most impressive lawn you've ever seen. Picture a putting green. There's a guy over on the lawns forum that periodically posts pictures of his bermuda lawn that will make your eyes water. Very impressive. He mows it at about 1/2 inch high twice a week with a push type reel mower. He also fertilizes every month. That's about all there is to it.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2006 at 6:26PM
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kathyp(z9 CA)

OK - Not in SoCal - we're in NorCal - San Jose, to be specific. Not sure why people think I'm in SoCal....

And we need to till - the lawn has NO organic material - it's just hard pack clay under the junk. We are getting a few guys to pick up, rake, dig, etc to get all the construction debris out, but we need to till in some ammendments. Our clay is rock hard. We built our house on a lot that had an existing house, and the back yard was a concrete slab, which was pulled up before we started to build. So even if we scraped, we would have a surface that we couldn't really plant in. That's why I did raised beds for flowers and veggies - needed a place to plant while the construction was being finished. They are doing very well, BTW. Except for the Bermuda, which has grown up from underneath.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2006 at 8:37PM
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frugal_gary(alvin tx)

I don't have any BG in my garden [60'x60']but it keeps trying to come in from the sides. I use my tiller to keep a 2' buffer zone around the edge. By the way I use horse and cow manure both fresh and composted and still don't have a problem as long as I mulch heavily.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2006 at 9:26PM
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rcnaylor(z7 Tex)

C'mon folks. I think suggesting "censoring" reference to non-organic methods here becuase it is an "organic" forum is not only wrong, it defeats the very purpose of the forum - spreading good knowledge about organics and encouraging their use.

First of all, people need to be able to have confidence the advice they are getting here is as accurate as possible. Leaving out known information because it might not make the "organic" option or options look as effective renders ALL the GOOD advice given here subject to the "what if" problem. Folks read the good advice, but wonder "what if" it is leaving out something really important I should know?

Therefore, if you want people to be able to come here and get advice they will use to CHOOSE to go organic, give them ALL the news good and bad.

Now, then, I haven't seen anyone suggest there is ANY long term organic solution to getting rid of bermuda. Well, whether you want to believe me or not, I did get rid of all my bermuda in a 2000 square foot side yard with Roundup, AND a sod cutter AND a good thick thereafter organically grown fescue cover on top of it that I let grow high to help shade out whatever tried to come back.

Some times the honest answer is there is no organic option that is reasonably effective. Honest. There is a chemical, cultural practices and organic solution. Honest.

The subjects of the organic kingdom closing their eyes and saying the King isn't in his underwear won't change the fact that sometimes (thankfully rarely in my experience) there is no really good organic "stuff" to use and there is some chemical stuff that is reasonably effective.

Now, just because you give a person honest factual information that says organics alone may not work, that doesn't mean they have to choose the chemical option. They might just look at the true facts they have been given and say: "Well, if it takes a chem, I'll just live with what I have."

The "right" response, IMHO, on an organic forum is to be truthful and, if the spirit moves an organic poster, set out why the chemical response, even if effective, is still worse than sticking with organic priniciples even if it means living with something you don't like (like bermuda). To me, it is not censoring reasonably accurate information.

What is more, by being open and honest about the limits of organics, I think organics will come out looking better than chems 98% of the time. A fair and open comparison is going to do a lot more to advocate for organic approaches than 'rigging' the beauty contest by not letting someone in to compete.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2006 at 10:44AM
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All I can say is 'Chemicals Suck'! I don't use them or recommend them. This is an "Organic" forum and the question was asking for an "Organic" way to get rid of the deadly bermuda grass. Organic forums should be discussing organic practices.

It's not a matter of closing one's eyes, but rather a decision to not use chemicals that harm the environment, children, pets and ourselves. That in fact, is actually having your eyes wide open. IMHO, there is no reason ever to use synthetic chemicals.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2006 at 11:18AM
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rcnaylor(z7 Tex)

Speaking in such absolutes as "no reason ever" is rarely the wisest approach.

Just a "for instance". Some suggest using 20 percent vinegar for bermuda grass. In addition to the fact it won't be transloacated to the roots as roundup will, it is also a strong and potetntially dangerous substance in its own right. While your "eyes are wide open" which would you rather have unintentionally come into contact with your eyes, 20% vinegar or Roundup? I can assure you the short term use of 20 % vinegar is much more dangerous than anything you can do with an - eek - chemical roundup.

In many chemical versus "organic" options the debate comes down clearly in the favor of organics being the safer more environmentally friendly option. But, Roundup has had some, really a rather small, number of long term consequences proven. On the other hand accidents and misuse of 20 percent vinager has immediate and even potentially life threatening consequences in the case of misuse or accident.

This is not to say you should use roundup if you don't think it is environmentally friendly enough for your taste. Where to draw the line is always a matter of degree and personal preference. But, it is really clear that a claim there is no reason to "ever" use a synthetic chemical, when comparing it to "organic" chemicals that can be just as damaging if not more so, is just ignoring facts to take a position that seems easy and good. There are few bigger proponnents of organic over chemical options than me. But to raise it to that level, and the level that other options shouldn't even be discussed, is in my opinion, simply to raise "organics" to the level of political correctness. In other words the "position" becomes more important than the substance of what led to the decision on the position.

"Organics" is simply too broad of a term to have real meaning. In many options, it is tough to actually draw the line between what is an organic approach and a synthetic chemical approach. (Chemically, 20% vinager is much stronger substance than roundup, for instance).Many of the "organic" options are just as much the result of man made process as synthetic chemicals. Some of the "organic" pesticides come to mind. they are "natural" and some say organic, because they come from plants. But, the form we use them in is almost always stripped from the plant and applied at greatly higher levels than anything you would find in nature itself. Is that your idea of being virtuous by using organic?

The truth is that it is never that simple. And organics is not ALWAYS the best and most environmentally friendly way to do things. Sometimes a little synthetic chemical may have less impact on the environment than repeated applications of large doses of highly concentrated "organic" materials. Which is likely to have the biggest impact on the environment, one set of applications of roundup over three weeks that never has to be used again, or spraying a VERY strong substance like 20% vinegar 2, 3,4 times a year for life?

I don't profess to know - for sure - but I do know that open discussion of ALL the options is the best way for smart and reasonable people to go about deciding (and re-deciding after new info comes in.)

Closing minds and closing the flow of information is not likely to lead to the best way to do anything, including growing plants and protecting people and environment.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2006 at 1:36PM
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It's not a matter of being closed minded, just the opposite. I see the effects of synthetic chemicals on the environment, and it's a simple choice not to use them. I don't see a need to ever use synthetic chemical products, ever and so I don't use them. Simple.

While 20% vinegar certainly needs care when using it, it can't be compared to the dangers of roundup. You better read up on the latest findings on the toxicity of roundup. It's not worry free like you imply. A simple google search will revel the problem with this chemical.

The effect of 20% vinegar on the environment is very short lived. Why one would have to use something for life is rather absurd.

The whole point is this is an organic forum. Those of you that live with the illusion that roundup is harmless, you have other forums to live in denial.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2006 at 2:16PM
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Here are a couple of links related to just some of the problems that using roundup presents. It's not a safe product to use like Monsanto wants you to believe:,7518,s1-4-54-32,00.html,7518,s1-4-63-1158,00.html

    Bookmark   February 9, 2006 at 2:32PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

Oh boy this is like Weston A Price against ADA...

    Bookmark   February 9, 2006 at 6:22PM
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    Bookmark   February 9, 2006 at 6:50PM
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"I don't see a need to ever use synthetic chemical products, ever and so I don't use them."

You never use synthetic chemicals? You don't paint your house? Wash your hair or clothes? Drive a car? Lumping all synthetic substances into a single group to be avoided as being harmful has no relevance to their actual properties. Their toxicity, persistance, effects, and appropriateness for use varies widely.

A beginning toxicology student will quickly understand that the acute toxicity of 20% vinegar (which is not organically" produced, by the way) is vastly higher than Roundup, not to mention thousands of other synthetic chemicals. While "Organic" is based on a philosophical limitation, toxicology is not limited by such arbitrary distinctions. Some organic pesticides are less toxic than synthetic, and vice versa. Many make sense to use, and are less problematic than their synthetic counterparts in the garden, but you have to look at each individual case. In the case of 20% vinegar, it needs more then "care" in use, it needs protective equipment to use responsibly. Toxicological ranking would place it with a "Danger" rating if it were actually sold legally as a herbicide. Roundup receives the lowest possible ranking of "Caution". I bring this up because people have been injured using high strength vinegars because they thought there was little difference between these high strength forms and regular household vinegar, and because it was a "natural" product. They also had no label to read how to safely use it because there are no legal 20% vinegar end use products on the market; those that are sold use a loophole to reach the consumer as "Horticultural" vinegar and typically have no safety warnings.

As for your reference; the Relyea study has been discussed multiple times on Gardenweb. It showed that when Roundup, with its surfactant, was applied directly to aquatic systems it was toxic to organisms. This was not news, many studies had shown this repeatedly before, which is why Roundup is not legal for use in water. It's the surfactant in the mix, which, like any soap or detergent, is toxic to fish and tadpoles. The active ingredient in the product is of extremely low toxicity to aquatics, and that is why it is legal for use in water without that added surfactant. What matters is what, where and how something is used, whether it is 20% vinegar or Roundup. Beware of a "simple google search" when researching something as politically charged as pesticide use. There is so much misrepresentation on these issues on the web, that it takes a much more involved approach to find out the real science behind it. I've been investigating pesticide issues for over 20 years to allow me to make responsible choices no matter the source of manufacture, synthetic or otherwise. And responsible environmentalists that have actually taken the time to investigate the facts, such as The Nature Conservancy, find that for certain purposes Roundup makes sense. Organic systems do not use synthetically formed products (well actually they do allow for some), which I have no problem with whatsoever, but in general their approach to these choices has to do with the source of the product, not its potential effects. Some Organically approved materials may be persistent, highly toxic and easily misused, while some synthetic products may be relatively benign and completely biodegradable. Don't get me wrong, many elements of the "organic" approach are certainly the most sensible way to garden, and my gardening activities have more in common with this approach than with any other, but I think arbitrary boundaries such as synthetic and natural ignore scientific realities. I have no problem with people choosing whatever system they think is responsible and works best for them, but let us stay clear on the facts.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2006 at 7:56PM
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That is just your opinion. The latest reports on Roundup are anything but non toxic. You want to use it, go right ahead. I'm not going to touch the stuff.

Using 20% vinegar does require some common sense, so if you don't have that, please don't use it at home.

The rest of my organic bag of tricks include those dangerous articles like Alfalfa meal, Corn Gluten Meal, Soybean Meal and Fish hydrolysate and kelp. Real dangerous stuff.

While of course there are some organic products that are dangerous, especially if not used properly. But I think that is rather obvious. I'm only using those dangerous ones I listed above.

Still the point of this thread is an ORGANIC way to get rid of Bermuda grass. You seem to keep missing the point. I hope that fact is clear.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2006 at 8:09PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

Well, those chemical companies usually turn out to be flat out wrong on the safety of chemicals after 20 years but by then they will come up with new chemicals and sweep the old ones under the rugs. It's been that way for the past century. I guess a lot of you guys seem to forget about that. Maybe those old chemicals destroyed your brain cells or something...

    Bookmark   February 9, 2006 at 10:18PM
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LOL....very good Lou!

    Bookmark   February 9, 2006 at 10:21PM
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kathyp(z9 CA)

OOPS!! Sorry folks, didn't mean to start something here. I do garden organically, but even so, Round-Up is not an option in this case - I have animals who would come in direct contact with anything I sprayed, plus the area is waaaay to big, and Round-Up ain't cheap!

I am going to try the sod cutter, pulling and mulching way, and hope that the grass I do plant gets the chance to grow and shade out the Bermuda.


    Bookmark   February 9, 2006 at 11:19PM
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rcnaylor(z7 Tex)

Hey kathy, you shouldn't worry about a debate breaking out just because you asked a question, its the nature of forums.

But, as to what might really work best for you, your last response causes two things to come to mind. First, when I did the procedures I talked about above a barely 2000 sq foot yard required the use of a front end loader and a dump truck to remove the amount of soil and sod I cut out. For me, that cost a lot more than the Roundup (my recollection is you can buy the gallon concentrate that will do lots of area for about $25.00. Of course, you may have a stronger back and more stamina than me and my family did (they revolted after a about 20% was done, hence the need for heavy equip. :) )

the second point I would suggest is that if you aren't going to get at the roots with roundup, I would follow the rest of my advice and Dchall's advise. Just try to grow a grass that outcompetes the bermuda. I have never been able to do it without the other steps to weaken and reduce it. But, Dchall usually only talks about what he knows about. Or, to put it another way, I probably wouldn't do all the hard labor associated with cutting out the stolons with a sod cutter. I'd just try to follow a good organic program, and as Dchall notes, really water it right and cut it right (as high as possible but never remove more than a third of the height in any one cutting.) St Augustine and maybe even a tall type fescue might outcompete it if kept high and properly watered at all times.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2006 at 10:51AM
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eureka(SS11 LasVegas/Henderson)

Kathy: Don't worry about the back and forth of opinions. These people are all experts (really) and they often get into these "discussions".

I was going to tell you that many people in my area know that they're going to do battle with clay soil, we are the desert and it is a given. Also, we have lots of new housing tracts which means lots of heavy machinery has traversed over the areas that will be yards at some point. I don't know anything about dollars and cents concerning this suggestion but many people have hired a dozer to come out and scrape off 8 - 10" of the clay soil, then have good top soil brought in that just needs leveling, shaping, irrigation. If you're putting in trees, look for the ones that are not bothered by clay soils and can still put down roots into it pasted the top soil. I have Deodor Cedars, a Pistache, not w/an "o", Raywood Ash, a very unique maple, liquidamber and Hollywood twister junipers. All of the leaf trees turn beautiful colors in Fall and are known survivors of crumby soil.

I have Bermuda that came from the neighbors but also if there are birds around they too drop a lot of offending weed seeds. Any chance of getting some cardboard or black house wrap worked under your planter beds to stop the Bermuda? These are my humble offering of ideas. Good luck. Oh, just a thought, you could call over to Sunset in Menlo Park to see if you could get an expert on the phone for a chat.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2006 at 4:42AM
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I would personally be hesitant about cutting off all of the sod and removing it. First, where is it going? Is it going to be someone else's problem down the road? Second, that is an awful lot of really heavy organic material to remove and transport and ultimately you are exporting most of the fertility of your lawn. You are talking about large numbers of cubic yards (ten yards is an average dump truck load) on a good sized lawn. If you did remove it would it be possible to stack it up and cover with clear plastic for a couple of years until you were sure every last stolen was dead? I will defer to the burmuda grass experts on this. Price the value of that sod at $20/yd for topsoil you'll need to replace it and you may be talking about hundreds of dollars even before the cost of sod-cutting and removal which will be considerable and not at all environmentally benign. Think diesel fumes, soil compaction, wear and tear on roads and driveway from heavy dumptrucks, potential spread of a noxious weed to name a few. If a few here think that a gallon of Roundup is a better alternative I would not disagree with them. The sure costs (economic and ecological) of the "organic" method would be too high for me in this case. As previous posters have pointed out 20% vinegar can be dangerous and also difficult to obtain. Good luck.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2006 at 8:39AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

OK - Not in SoCal - we're in NorCal - San Jose, to be specific. Not sure why people think I'm in SoCal....

I was just taking someone else's lead. Sorry, but it really does help to know where you live. I grew up in Riverside and consider San Jose to be firmly entrenched in CenCal. To me NorCal starts somewhere north of Sacto, especially since you are a full day's drive south of Oregon.

And we need to till

STOP RIGHT THERE! No you don't.

- the lawn has NO organic material - it's just hard pack clay under the junk. We are getting a few guys to pick up, rake, dig, etc to get all the construction debris out, but we need to till in some ammendments. Our clay is rock hard.

What you need is beneficial fungal growth in your soil. It is the fungi that opens up your soil and allows water to penetrate. If you till you will kill any fungi that are already there. Once your soil is re-fungicized (!) it will absorb water like a sponge. And when it is saturated it will be as soft as a sponge. And when it is dry it will be as soft as a HARD sponge, but at least it will reabsorb water quickly as long as the fungi are still going strong.

I strongly disagree with tilling for other reasons but that should be enough for now. I have a couple ways you can reestablish the fungal growth in your soil.

1. Cover it with a leaf-type mulch and keep the mulch damp, not saturated. The soil underneath will hydrate once it is in the shade of the mulch and these conditions will allow the fungi to grow. This works best when you do it in the fall with plans to sod in the spring.

2. Spread a light dusting (5-10 pounds per 1,000 square feet) of ordinary corn meal on the area and haul out the black soaker hose. Use enough hose to stretch out the width of your yard. Start the hose at one side of the yard. If you have a high side, start there. Then back at the faucet, adjust the flow so that it only trickles out at the faucet. I'm talking a fast drip, drip, drip, but not a stream. Then leave the faucet running like that for at least a week. The drip should saturate the soil for about 18 inches on either side of the soaker hose. At the end of the week move the hose 18 inches to the edge of the saturation line and leave it for a week. This will overlap the previous week's watering. Continue moving it like that until you get to the other side of the yard. When you have finished, start over again. This time when you move the hose, you should really be able to feel a much softer soil underfoot. If not, then repeat the cycle a third time.

Here is a link that might be useful: Please read this link and memorize the first three short paragraphs.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2006 at 9:32AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

This morning the radio host of the organic gardening show suggested using black plastic to shade out the bermuda in beds. Water it first and peg down the black plastic so no light gets in. Apparently the combination of deeeeeeep shade (to kill the plant initially) coupled with the increased moisture under the plastic allows the dead bermuda stolons to rot away. He said it might take a few months.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2006 at 6:34PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

Yeah, that will get funny looks from neighbors!

"what the heck that black thing laying on the lawn for the past couple month?? Did somebody die???"

    Bookmark   February 19, 2006 at 8:06PM
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i like the forum, but for awhile there it was just a two-em. (lol), but both have good opinions that everyone should decide to use.
seriously, i have a yard full-o-bermuda which i don't like. i decided to start a flower bed in the middle of the yard so i took a shovel and cut out a large oval, pulled out the grass by hand, shook off the excess dirt and then double-dug just to aerate the soil to about 2 ft. while clearing the dirt of any and every root i came across. i planted all my plants that i want in there and so far have only had to pick out the occassional sprout and top growing weed. so my manual labour is paying off. i'm going to eventually change the whole yard to st. augustine and, after reading all of this good advice, i think my method will be the most effective. believe me, it was a pain in my back but, after searching the web for an "organic" method of getting rid of it, i found none as effective as manual labour. maybe you don't have the time but i suggest making time because my way has proven to be the best "organic" method. (i am mostly organic, aren't i?)except for the beer!
2 things before i go
1-monsanto is one of the largest makers of tofu. (why is a chemical co. making food and what are they making it w/?)
2- look up into the sky on a sunny day. if you see a long, thin cloud like trail of white stuff, ask your govt. what the hell that is and why are they spraying it into our atmosphere? i tnink we're too worried about roundup use on the ground when we need to be looking up to see the "roundup" being sprayed into our lungs
thanks for the forum soapbox, bob

    Bookmark   April 10, 2006 at 6:17PM
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bluejean(z6 OH)

I am new to organic gardening but my thoughts when reading everyone's responses were... what about controled burning of the grass? would that get rid of it roots and all? Maybe use the vinegar to kill it and "dry" it out, then let it slowly burn? obviously keeping a house near by is essential.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2006 at 10:48AM
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habitat_gardener(z9 CA/Sunset15)


I've successfully kept bermuda grass under control at my community garden plot. When I got my garden plot, bermuda grass was running rampant in the paths and starting to invade the garden beds.

First I dug up every piece I could find, taking care to get as much of the stolons and rhizomes as possible. I used a hori-hori (hand digging tool) if the ground was hard, and a digging fork if it was softer. Then, in the paths, I covered the area with cardboard or newspaper and 4-8 inches of mulch. I also made a "mulch moat" about 6 inches deep and 4 inches wide at the edges of my garden beds to foil incursions.

The bermuda grass is still thriving in neighboring beds, so it will never go away, but it is easy to pull stray pieces out of the path mulch (maybe once every 2-3 weeks or more in the summer). When it appears in my beds, I use the hori-hori to get as much as I can. I also weed the edges of the neighboring beds when the bermuda grass starts flowering in them.

The raspberry patch, in the center of my garden area, was also infested with lots of bermuda grass 2.5 years ago, so I pruned the canes to the ground (so that I could get in) and pulled out every last piece of bermuda grass that I saw. I did not dig into the bed; I just went after the ones that were visible on the surface. Then I added a few inches of compost and mulch. Every fall and spring, I add more mulch and compost. The bermuda grass has not been a problem in that bed (but the raspberries are very happy, they are the only "weed" problem in my garden!).

    Bookmark   April 12, 2006 at 3:02AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

I am new to organic gardening but my thoughts when reading everyone's responses were... what about controled burning of the grass? would that get rid of it roots and all?

This is a perfect lead-in for my 3,000 word essay on the lack of nature's wisdom in the so-called controlled burn programs. But I'm going to resist. Yes I know that for hundreds of millions of years Mother Nature let loose the lightning, but at the same time, Mother Nature had hundreds of millions of free roaming herd animals helping to process the world's grass and browse. We don't have the animals roaming anymore. Before I get carried away, let's just say that for bermuda, burning the tops off won't work. The roots will live on. But at the same time, there might be an argument for burning off all the surface fertility and sending it to heaven. Perhaps the bermuda could be weakened by the severe loss of food and food sources. Oops! I'm getting started again.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2006 at 8:31PM
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barton(z6b OK)

Interesting post!!

Agree, I can't imagine the expense of taking up the top few inches of sod and replacing it with "good topsoil" which you can't really find around here anyway. (Actually we did do this in a very small area but it was expensive)

I am starting to realize that even hard red clay can grow things once some organic matter gets incorporated. The builder scraped off all the topsoil and moved it closer to the house, so that part of the lawn is nice. The remaining clay seemed practically sterile. He did roll out bermuda sod which survived but barely. I have spread shredded wood chips from the city green waste plant, an inch or so at a time, over the bermuda. The bermuda comes up through it, and helps hold the mulch in place. I'll worry about getting rid of the bermuda later. Right now it is at least something alive. A nice fungus mat is getting started in the mulch, which retards erosion. The June bug grubs are getting fat in the organic layer. The skunks "till" every night looking for grubs. The water doesn't run off any more.

Without any digging or expense at all, we have gone from a rock-hard red wasteland, to something that is showing hope of becoming living, fertile soil. I mow high, and even some native prairie grass is starting to come back.

I have an area that I might eventually use for a vegetable garden, though that is several years (or several hundred dollars worth of store-bought dirt) in the future. I will probably use the black plastic method to kill off the bermuda in that area, followed by a green manure crop that will be tilled in. I'm in no hurry.

In a smaller vegetable garden area, we did use hauled-in dirt to replace the poor soil that was dug out with a backhoe. We kept the bermuda from creeping back in by bordering the garden with bales of straw. I thought it would crawl right under the bales but it did not. As the bales rot, we use it to mulch the garden and get new ones for the garden border. The bad news: we got some _really_ nasty weeds in the load of store-bought dirt. We are having to use the black plastic method to kill them off. (Tried roundup; it won't even slow 'em down)

So, we have tried several things. The downside of hauling in either dirt or wood chips is that you don't know what you are bringing in. The weed that came in with the dirt is terrible stuff; maybe in another post, I will post a pic and get some help identifying and eradicating it.) The only thing that has come in with the wood chips (since it is mostly tree waste) is redbud seedlings which I don't mind, and eastern red cedar seedlings (which I hate but we already have anyway). I haven't worried too much about the tree seedlings because they are controlled by mowing unless I transplant them.

Well I got off track; sorry. So.. bermuda grass.. I've never actually tried to get it out of a lawn. For gardens, I just dug it out and kept after it.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2006 at 10:57PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

I am starting to realize that even hard red clay can grow things once some organic matter gets incorporated. The builder scraped off all the topsoil and moved it closer to the house, so that part of the lawn is nice. The remaining clay seemed practically sterile.

It is possible to compact the soil, especially clay, to the point where not enough air gets into it and it might seem to be sterile. You can reverse this by applying deep mulch over it and letting the soil grow microbes under the mulch for a few months. The growth of the microbes will force the clay particles apart and allow the air in.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2006 at 8:50PM
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geez- that was a lot of fun to read!
Im on team round up.j/k burmuda is a nightmare and completely digging out 2000ft of burmuda is a lot to handle. believe it or not i actually almost killed mine by over-watering! I would try tilling it and seed with st.augustine. a neighbor of mine tried it with pretty good results. st augustine can be very aggressive plus as mentioned you can mow it at a 3 in height and shade the stuff to death. good luck

    Bookmark   May 1, 2007 at 12:33AM
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If after all of this someone actually decides to use vinegar, AM Leonard sells a "horticultural" strength vinegar..

Here is a link that might be useful: AM Leonard

    Bookmark   May 5, 2007 at 8:07AM
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rcnaylor(z7 Tex)

Wow, I can't believe this ol saw is still around.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2007 at 12:55PM
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I am relaxed. I knew when I wrote that earlier I would provoke some people to give the responses they did. No glyphosate products are acceptable in organic circles, although there are some that are trying very hard to ease that idea.
I have not found plastic, black or clear, to be effective in killing off quack grass, although that stuff will grow better with the plastic because they now have more than normal amounts of soil moisture. I have no experience with Bermuda grass so don't know if that would hold true with that or not but I strongly suspect it would only encourage Bermmuda to grow even more. Given the source of plastic, Petrochemicals, and given that plastic will stop the necessary exchange of air a good, healthy soil needs I don't believe plastic has much place in an organic garden, either.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2007 at 5:34PM
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I believe in organics and minimum harm, to the environment but on a practical sense bermuda grass will frustrate the most idealogically inclined organic gardner. This is Gardening not Religion if bermuda is established I believe that Roundup and follow ups with it are your only chance of actually winning thie batle. I use vineger and Mulch to control Bermuda in my beds and St augustine to take over the lawn but the Bermuda wil always be ther and be a weed that needs burned with vineger or pulled/dug out, the only way to eradicate it is the repeated application of a systimic pesticide. Otherwise a gardner must reserve themselves to control mesures

    Bookmark   May 6, 2007 at 11:42PM
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What a hoot. It is pretty obvious who has actually battled bermuda grass and who has not. I have seen 3 year old bales of hay start sprouting green sprigs after a big rain. Maybe it is seed and maybe it is the grass itself, but it will happen. It is a bit like battling dandelions but with roots that grow in all directions. It will "crawl" three feet to get a drink of water and that crawl doesn't take many days as it heads for your garden. I wish everyone luck. I never use any chemical on my plants, but bermuda is a different story. When I MUST use it, I mow it short and apply it with a sponge to the short grass so it doesn't blow onto anything else. I would love to find a better way..........but until then........

    Bookmark   May 8, 2007 at 9:55PM
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terran(zone10/Sunset20 CA)

After puzzling about and working at eradicating Bermuda growing along side and through the cracks in the asphalt along, possibly, a tenth of a mile of roadway in an organic manner, I have finally resorted to glyphosate.

The process I used over a period of months was to first to cut and / or pull off seed heads, then dig out the grass and stolons. Five days ago I sprayed, and am today noticing some dieback, but it looks as if I will have to reapply. Today, I inspected and dug out one small area of re-growth to the side of the asphalt. I have been able to eliminate it where I have been able to get to it by physical removal, but saw no other way but glyposate on the grass growing through the asphalt after other unsuccessful attempts.

I have watched the University of California Master Gardner's series and think that I recall the professor stating that disking during its dormant season could eliminate Bermuda, if I remember correctly. Though I would expect that vigilance over a year or so would be necessary to account for remaining seeds. I suppose that one could plant a green manure crop to improve the soil after the period allotted to disking then inspect for the Bermuda's reappearance in the interim.

My experience has been that I only needed to dig to a depth of 8 to 12 inches to remove the grass and stolons.


Here is a link that might be useful: An Experiment

    Bookmark   May 12, 2007 at 5:45AM
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In the interest of seeing lower usage of Monsanto's Glyphosate by those so inclined:

You'll get the best kill by spraying just to the point of run-off. It only kills by being absorbed foliarly by green leaves and stems. It is not taken up by the roots, or not in a way or form that will kill the plant.

The plant MUST be actively growing, not making seed, not thinking of going dormant. The best root/rhizome kill will be achieved when the plant has a large amount of top growth, i.e. leaves and green stems. If it has started to go into a seed production mode, mow it, irrigate, allow regrowth, then spray.

More green matter absorbs more herbicide to be carried to and kill the roots/rhizomes.

So. After a rain or a good irrigation, in the Spring to mid-Summer, let the bermuda grow to 4-6," but before it thinks about making seed, spray it. Do NOT mow first. Allow 2 weeks for the herbicide to work, mow short, then water again. Stand at the ready.

It will be highly possible at this point to control it with repeated applications of 10% vinegar, digging, pulling, etc. Vigilance is essential. There will likely be seedlings for the next year, and to a lesser extent, for 2 more years. These can be controlled by hoeing, vinegar, etc., but only for the short time before they make rhizomes. Vigilance.

If you want to lay some other sod, this (after mowing 2 weeks after spraying) will be the time to do it, if you lay it solid. The round-up will not bother the new sod. Surviving bermuda will come up in the seams between the pieces of sod.

If you were to lay solid St. Augustine, I would not spray round-up first. Spray vinegar for a top kill if you must, but the sod will give you that, except at the seams. The bermuda will come up thru the seams from the still alive rhizomes, after you kill the top. It is probably best for the tender roots of the new sod for the bermuda to be brown before laying the new sod. St. Augustine is the only thing I have seen that can make the bermuda disappear. It will still be there, subdued, waiting for an opportunity, like if the St. Augustine gets damaged. Then it will provide a quick cover to the damaged area until the coarse, lumbering St. Augustine can grow back in.

On to the broad topic: Bermuda will be one of the best things to fix your soil. I think it's quite telling that as bad as conditions are in your yard, the bermuda is causing you a "problem."

I would run with it. Nothing will break up and aerate your soil like a good grass cover. I would encourage the bermuda with good cultural practices. Mow no shorter than 2 inches. The higher the better because the taller the top, the bigger and deeper the roots. Mulch the clippings.

Feed with alfalfa pellets and similar organic ferts that will provide a net increase in fertility for the soil. This will build the soil as it is processed and tilled in directly by your pet microherd, worms, etc., and thru the bermuda which will provide clippings to mulch the soil and feed the pets, who will take it down into the soil.

Of course, applying compost, and/or aerated compost tea in the beginning, and at least annually is important for keeping the grass and soil healthy and processing organic matter down into your clay.

Done right, bermuda can make a very nice lawn. You can do it intensively, as dchall outlined, but the bermuda will be happier maintained higher, and will improve your soil faster and deeper.

In a few years, if you aren't happy with the bermuda, you can take measures to replace it. By then it will have performed a valuable service for your soil, or... will have made a soil out of your compacted clay. You will have saved mucho dinero, labor, and time.

I think a valuable thing in organics is to follow the line of least resistance.

BTW, excavation to a depth of 6-8 inches, followed by removal will get rid of the bermuda. You can measure the practicality of that as follows: length (ft.) X width (ft.) X depth (in.) divided by 324 = cubic yards. Then you'll need the same number of cubic yards to backfill. Your backfill will quite possibly bring seed with it.

A barrier to stop outside invasion is essential, or any control will be for naught. Dedicate a pump-up sprayer, even a quart size, to keep filled with 10% vinegar to control bermuda in beds and to maintain a perimeter around them.


Here is a link that might be useful: Free 1 1/2 hour movie. Monsanto's Clutch on Civilization

    Bookmark   May 14, 2007 at 2:34AM
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whynotsb(z8a/8b GA)

I'm in the same boat. I live on a former dairy farm, so everywhere I get full sun is covered with common Burmuda grass. To grow vegatables, I've had to resort to growing in large containers and creating raised beds. Closer to my house, which is shaded by tall oak trees, I grow St. Augustine grass, which easilly outcompetes the Burmuda in those conditions. However, St. Augustine prefers hot, steamy climates, so if your conditions don't meet it's requirements, you might consider alternatives.

Maybe consider some large areas of groundcovers as an alternative to traditional grass lawn. Design a landscape, not just a lawn. Do some research and find out what groundcovers grow well in your area and will suit your needs/desires.

Erradication is unlikely, so control is the key with burmuda grass. There are many plants that will out-compete it given the right cultural conditions. You may never completely rid yourself of the Burmuda, but it will grow thin and wispy and practically disappear into the landscape if it's not given the conditions to thrive in.

As far as your raised beds (or any bed, for that matter), dig out the Burmuda inside the bed. Then create a barrier around the bed so the stolons and rhyzomes don't creep back in. Lay down a perimeter of black plastic, then mulch over it. That creates a zone that will discourage the Burmuda and make an attractive border around your beds, as well.

Best of luck.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2007 at 5:24PM
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Looks like tons of people have already responded, but here's my two cents. I figure the best way to get rid of grass en masse is to just stick a bunch of heavy bags of dirt or mmulch or whatever and it'll kill it that way. :) It just dies... Certainly, it's not a fool-proof method and one'd better make this square pretty big- so that if the grass does creep in, it won't affect the middle so much.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2007 at 8:44PM
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I am dismayed at the back and forth disagreements on this subject of what is right to post. I grow commercially and am in desperate need of a spray that will deter the Bermuda grass. 20% vinegar will have an undesirable effect of raising the salt in the soil. Round-up is not acceptable for organic certification, the grass is economically causing havoc. i am going to purchase an organically approved material called Matran at the cost of $187 per 2 1/2 gal, plus shipping.
I hope to stress the grass enough over time to cause it to die. I love organics, but I would use Round-up in my yard to get a handle on such a problem, then continue with an organic program. You folks should work together with open minds, respecting all views, like the political parties should be doing! All input is good input, take what you need and let others do the same.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2008 at 11:10AM
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OK. An absolute newbie at the elite art of Gardening was about to Round-Up a 66 by 66 foot (roughly) garden to destroy all the thick and fast-growing wild grass that is incumbent in a garden. They pause upon reading a comment by the illustrious lou_midlothian_tx which wise-cracks:

"Well, those chemical companies usually turn out to be flat out wrong on the safety of chemicals after 20 years but by then they will come up with new chemicals and sweep the old ones under the rugs. It's been that way for the past century. I guess a lot of you guys seem to forget about that. Maybe those old chemicals destroyed your brain cells or something..."

And the newbie finds their wisdom in choosing Round-Up may have been cracked. Now the newbie has no plan. After reading all the other comments, the newbie finds nothing which will work quickly, without Round-Up.

The newbie is fit, young and strong and enjoys back-breaking labour. Upon asking the mighty oracle Google how much a foot of soil weighs, a sagely response shines from the interweb that it be 100 pounds (for compacted soil). They calculate a 66 foot by 66 foot garden, dug to around 3 foot deep would require moving just under 200 tons of soil. The newbie figures they can do this comfortably in two weeks, at a rate of 8 hours a day and 60 lbs a minute (because it needs to be put back in the hole again). The newbie will work an extra hour a day to make up for any errors in calculations.

Would the newbie have any hope of success in killing the grass by digging up these three feet, dumping the grass blades upside down into the hole, running the three feet of soil though an industrial garden shredder and placing it back on top of the upturned grass?

Or, with an equivalently stupid newbie as your slave who was willing to give you 110 hours of graft instead of leisurely breezing around with a spray tank, could you field-marshal an effective war against the ever-reproducing army of darkness (also known as grass) and if so, given that amount of labour what strategy would you use?

This is a chance for you to have an answer to those "you can only do it effectively with Round-Up" people. The newbie tries out the most plausible method and there is a tale to tell other than "spray it with glyphosate" which actually worked. Everyone in the tavern is amazed at your gardening skills and men/women throw themselves at you due to the size of your hoe. Another win for Organics.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 10:46AM
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I am an old organic gardener.I got bermuda grass in hay and horse manure.I mulched along the edge of my flower garden with tarpaper,it came thru :then used heavy cardboard with old carpet over it.This killed it but it was coming UNDER the carpet from the edge.I got chickens and they can kill it if you leave them on it long enough(like a month or more)I read an article that overgrazing and then planting buckwheat on top would kill it.The only thing I use poison sprays on is poison ivy .Roundup is not organic.I did try vinegar and salt on the grass and it barely slowed it down.Consistent mulch will eventually kill it.Posy Pet

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 4:30PM
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I am currently battling Bermuda and I have a method that seems to be working, but it will only work in a drought stricken place like Orange County in southern California. I rototill my garden area every couple of weeks, and do not water the area at all. Every time I rototill less and less Bermuda reappears. I plan to do this for a whole year. But let any rain fall and I am set back and have to battle harder. The soil becomes covered with a layer of dry powdered clay from which no weeds will sprout. However any areas where I do water like around my fruit trees become a safe haven for the Bermuda. BTW, if you ever dug down under Bermuda grass it it amazing how thick the roots are and how deep they go, even in clay. In between rototillings I walk around with a shovel and chop off any Bermuda I see sprouting.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 11:42PM
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Here in upstate S.C. , heat, drought, red clay and bermuda grass are a given. I am doing an organic garden this year. It has a large spot of bermuda that is coming up through a 6"layer of wheat straw. My plans are to let the bermuda grow long enough to gather into a bundle and lay it on top of a newspaper. Then I will spray it with 100% vinegar until it dies. Then throw away the newspaper. If it comes back I will do it again. I don't even want the vinegar in my soil.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2009 at 12:16PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

herbicide it would help to know where you live and what weeds you are trying to get rid of. And it would help me understand you better if you wrote in first person rather than fifth or whatever you were doing.

Woodi mentioned 100% vinegar. That material is not available to homeowners. You can find 20% acidity and that is plenty dangerous. I have not seen it do anything to bermuda, though.

Two years ago I killed a 15x15 area of bermuda by covering it with 2 inches of sand and 2 inches of mulch. More years ago than that the city brought some bermuda and nutgrass infested soil to fill in a spot they dug up. All I did was mow high and water and both the bermuda and nutgrass went away.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2009 at 12:36AM
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Sorry, I meant undiluted vinegar. It certainly doesn't mind the dampness under the straw - it is coming up everywhere!!! I didn't even know there was that much of it in that area. Killing the bermuda is going to be a job all by itself, no less what it takes to keep up with the rest of the garden. I also have bamboo, honeysuckle, and Virginia Creeper invading that space - not counting all the other weeds..........

    Bookmark   May 4, 2009 at 12:23PM
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I'm having some luck replacing a beumuda grass lawn with a border garden using the following method:
1) dig out the sod
2) add gypsum to break down the clay
3) plant lambs ear and clover for a few seasons
4) leave the lambs ear in some areas but till others and replant with other drought tolerant plants...
5) keep hand pulling any bermuda grass that pops up.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2009 at 4:43PM
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rj_hythloday(8A VA)

organic bermuda control = foot+shovel

My lawn was seeded w/ it when I moved in. Since it didn't really take I was able to seed it my self w/ other grasses and removed all of the sod before creating my garden area. Now I just have to control the rhizomes that try to make their way into my beds.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2009 at 12:31PM
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On farm we disked the grass then planted corn about as thick say 4 to6 in apart the corn will use up the food and shade it out then plant ground cover in fall it didnt come back.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2009 at 12:50PM
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I tried the vinegar........the bermuda seems to LOVE it!!!! It didn't phase it and my garden is getting covered in it.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2009 at 6:25AM
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i was told that once you had this kind of grass it was near impossible to kill or get rid of, do to the fact that it has runners, i myself do not mind it except it is getting into my garden i just pull it ip when ever i see it so far i have about got rid of it, as for the lawn it seeds up really fast and is almost impossible to kill off !!!!

    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 7:57AM
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I have tried many different chemicals with little results. I know you don't want to hear this but the only way to really get rid if it is to lay out the land for one year. During this time you will need to plow the ground at least twice a week to keep the roots exposed to the dry air. So you probably will want to do this a little at a time according to the equipment you have available to you. Persistence pays. You have to stay after it. I have cleaned up a lot of acres doing this. Bermuda loves good land. Good land is worth fighting for.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2009 at 8:58AM
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It took forever to read all of these posts. LOL! Very interesting!

Being an old Hippie from the 60Âs, full of ÂLove Mother EarthÂ, I have always opted for the ÂorganicÂ, Âchemical free methods of gardening and yard tending. Growing up and living in the northeast, weeding was easy, grass was edged to keep it out of the garden.

20 years ago I moved west. I now live in ÂGreen CountryÂ. For those of you who donÂt know where that is, it is northeastern Oklahoma. Lush greenery everywhere, foothills of the Ozarks, home to vast varieties of invasive native plant life. Trumpet vines, honeysuckle, green briar, just about every ivy, wild flower and weed that you can think of, and, oh yes, Bermuda grass.

I have been dealing with the stuff in my 2 ½ acre yard for years now. I have done just about everything, short of the Âstrip and replace method mentioned above, and have come to believe that the only way to keep it under control in my vegetable garden is to til, Spring and Fall. "But that just chops up the roots and spreads them around", you may say. But it also exposes the roots to the elements, blistering dry heat and freezing cold. And, denies the roots of leaves to produce food, by covering them with earth. It takes a few years to get under control, and you do have to preen during the growing season. Best done after a rain or watering, pull runners that top out. This also helps to keep the clay soil loose, and promotes Âgood plant growth.

For areas around trees or perennial gardens, where tilling is not an option, I opt for the Ânewspaper and mulch method. I place only the white and black parts of the paper, whole sections, still folded, 2 or 3 sections deep, and cover with 4-6 inches of CYPRESS mulch. I use only CYPRESS mulch because it is resistant to most bugs and mold, and it will not rot like some other types of mulch.

Each Spring I remove the mulch, place a new layer or two of paper down, replace the old mulch, and add a new layer of mulch to keep it deep enough. A watchful eye and preening is needed to prevent runners from rooting on top of the mulch or around stems and tree trunks. A border like a steel tree rings, rocks, bricks, concrete, or what have you, will help to keep roots from invading an area from the bottom.

These methods may not kill the Bermuda, but they do control it so I donÂt have to see it, and it wonÂt overpower and kill my plants. IsnÂt that the point? Why does it have to die if I can control where it goes, and what it does?

Bermuda is native. ItÂs here to stay. ItÂs like Schwartzenegger, lerking under your feet saying,Â"IÂll be back." You can do just about anything to it. You might think itÂs dead.
It will go dormant for years, waiting for the conditions to be right, and it will be back.

I like Bermuda grass for ground cover on acreage in a semi-rural area like I live in. It needs mowing less than designer grass, no watering, it takes care of itself.

You donÂt need to kill it. You can control it, organically, so you donÂt have to see it, and it wonÂt overpower your plants. Give it boundries, be persistant.

For a quick fix garden on a new or changing home site, you can purchase large bags of soil, place them inside of a temporary border as mentioned above. Cut ÂXÂs in the bag, only big enough to plant and allow for the plants to get water, and mulch over the bags and all. Walla! Instant garden! Bermuda resistant.

Smiles Are Contagious!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 5:23PM
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"Bermuda is native." ... Bermuda grass is not native. It's from Africa. It's called "Bermuda" grass because it was grown there for hay early in Colonial history.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2010 at 10:54AM
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Native meaning, to me, growing wild over vast areas. We're talking about grass, not people.
I don't know that there were any colonies in Oklahoma.
Why isn't there any in the north east?
To me, if it's been here for hundreds of years it's native now.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2010 at 4:22PM
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I'm exhausted from all of these postings!!! So for clarification please: I want to take out all of my bermuda grass and put in 11 raised beds for ORGANIC VEGETABLES. I gather that I should start this summer with 20% vinegar solution-do you mean mixing 80% water with 20% vinegar? Is that really dangerous??? If it works, why not 50% vinegar?
Then,in the winter, I should sheet mulch the area for 3 months?
Then in the spring, be ready to build the beds and plant?

    Bookmark   January 9, 2011 at 11:44AM
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Agggghhh! Please tell me that if you put a solid 6" layer of wood chips (many of which are Eucalyptus) that the bermuda grass won't come through!! I just got a load from a tree trimmer and just finished spreading it in my back yard - now, after reading all your posts it's looking as though I just made a mess of my back yard because the bermuda will pop right through - the tree trimmer said that eucalyptus would kill the grass - my sister said that nothing should come through a thick enough layer of chips ... what say the experts? Should I see if this works and then react? should I add another 4-5 inches, boosting it to a 10 inch base? or should I start taking it all up and try a more brilliant approach?

    Bookmark   February 20, 2011 at 3:43PM
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I see why you say, not to promote use of round up, but this is a organic garden forum, not permaculture forum.
So tilling is not out of the question on this site.
If one should follow the rules, then all should.
Hey, why don't we all lighten up & have some fun!

    Bookmark   February 21, 2011 at 1:12AM
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This thesis has references to Bermuda grass control with solarization.

'bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon) have been controlled using solarization (Elmore, 1993; Ricci et al., 1999). Though most often used in arid climates, solarization offers promise as an herbicide alternative that is applicable to many climates and suitable for use by organic farmers.'

    Bookmark   February 21, 2011 at 3:50PM
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henry, I am going to try solarization on my bahia grass.
90% of the things on this thread will not eradicate bahia grass. This includes round up, which kills the tops, but not the deep roots. Round up will not kill nut sage/ nut grass or common dew berry vines.
So I will try this on the bahia. I have heard that the
solarization may kill the soil food web, when it kills the weeds. I am planning to sheet compost the beds after I kill the grass/ weeds. I have been told that tilling kills the soil food web. Not sure who is right or if it matters, I give vegetables away every season including the winter.
I grow more then I can use, then I must be doing something right.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2011 at 5:22PM
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kathyp(z9 CA)

Wow!! Still getting posts on this thread - fun! Since I was the original poster way back when, I'd like to let you all know how it all worked out.

1. Raised beds for veggies, started over a thick layer of paper and cardboard are working well - occasional pieces pop up, and are very easily hand pulled.

2. Flower beds made with spoiled straw, compost, mulch, etc - same outcome. Occasional pieces - easily hand pulled.

3. Back lawn - twice yearly applications of compost, along with mowing with a mulching mower have yielded better soil ( not great) but still tons of bermuda. Decided to pick the battle on this one, and left the "lawn" as is.

4. Front yard - originally had been the driveway of the previous house - so no growth at all. We brought in compost and amendments, and tilled them in. Planted grass - fescue, and had a beautiful lawn for about 2 years. Then, the bermuda from the neighbor's house finally grew the 15 feet under the concrete driveway, and invaded the lawn. After watching the lawn being taken over, we decided to go with no grass and native plants. Easier said than done, at least at first. Digging holes for plants was all we were able to do given that the thickness of the bermuda roots was 10 - 12" throughout the yard.( This is no exaggeration - we measured! ) So we covered the entire yard with newspaper or cardboard & spoiled straw. We filled each hole with compost, planted the plants, covered the whole thing with landscape cloth, and covered that with a thick layer of bark mulch. We still see grass trying to grow around the plants, but we just pull it up. We also find that the grass is trying to find it's way out from the coverings - again, just pulling it up is all we do.

So we have learned to live with it - picking our battles ( veggie and flower beds, and the front yard), while letting the back yard be taken over by bermuda. Happy to say, we used no chemicals to kill it, the surrounding trees are healthy, and the yard is full of birds, butterflies, bees, etc. And we get tons of produce every year, and lots of compliments on our front yard.

So a happy ending!! Thank you for all your advice and posts!!


    Bookmark   February 21, 2011 at 7:35PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

WOW! The OP after all these years!! Thanks for writing back.

Rereading the messages was a hoot. Turns out there are some methods that work under certain circumstances. Getting the circumstances right is probably the hard part.

Basically you can kill bermuda with shade provided by black plastic, several inches of sand and mulch, or even just shade from trees, buildings, and fences. In my yard I have been fully successful by simply mowing the St Augustine at the highest setting. Where I had no St Aug I was successful by covering it with 2 inches of sand and 2 more inches of bark mulch.

Vinegar does not work. Good thought but even 20% vinegar (it tells you the strength on the bottle), does not work.

Since this is an organic forum I should not be mentioning it but RoundUp only works in the summer when the grass is growing very strong. There is a process involved, which I will not get into. If you want that answer, ask on the regular Lawn forum.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2011 at 11:40PM
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natalie4b(7b GA)

Cardboard worked for me. Second year after covering all of the grass I has on 3/4 of an acre - and great results!
I am very pleased and grateful it worked. My HOA - well, that's another story...

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 9:19PM
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shadyapex(7 or 8 I think.)

A very large yellow machine!

    Bookmark   February 23, 2011 at 8:36PM
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I know this is of little, if any help.
But I understand that pigs can make short work of the grass.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2011 at 10:22PM
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jolj, yes, pigs will root it out and they will also get rid of nut sedge! HOWEVER, then you have the "stink" of hogs and all those holes they rooted and the swampy wallows they made to deal with.
But you also get some pretty good tasting pork! ((big smile))

    Bookmark   March 13, 2011 at 12:53PM
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ga.karen, you know way to much about pigs to be a inter city girl.LOL
A girl after my on heart.LMTO
Got to go, thanks for the smiles:-).

    Bookmark   March 19, 2011 at 9:22PM
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Still have not found 20% acidity Vinegar.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2011 at 4:17PM
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A.M.Leonard has the vinegar.

I do not believe there is ANY way to get it out and keep it out. I am lucky enough to have at least two kinds. The St. Augustine I thought eradicated 5 years ago is back with no water. Coastal is in my raised beds where lots of heavy cardboard was put. Solarizing did not work nor heavy mulch nor heavy cover crops. I'm still looking.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2011 at 10:06AM
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I go with pond liner. It's tough enough to last at least a season in full sun and will kill everything under it. It will kill the grass and of course weeds and weed seeds. It will cook weed seeds if you leave it a month or more in full sun. I'm planting my ditch in clover and never want to mow it again. I'm using pond liner, moving the liner down the ditch slowly piece by piece.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 9:53AM
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BBmama, I have some old conveyor belt. It should do as well as your liner.
I will give it a try.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 1:09PM
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We just filled the former swimming pool with some bermuda infested soil. We are planning to cover it with good soil. Does anyone know how deep we need to cover it for the root and rymzones to be killed? Would 4 feet of good, clean soil be enough?

    Bookmark   June 12, 2011 at 8:33PM
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12-24 inches at least.
I would put down cardboard or weed guard, before adding "Good" soil.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 8:50PM
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I am currently digging the bermuda out of my flower beds, etc. Then afterwards, dig a trench about 3 to 4 inches deep (preferably deeper than the bermuda roots) with a vertical cut on the lawn side. I am digging this around my vegetable garden also. The bermuda will have to cross this 'mote' and will at least be visible for me to chop it off again. A woman in my neighborhood has beautiful beds with no bermuda in them and I'm copying her. It seems to be the best option for me. Hope it helps someone.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2011 at 8:25PM
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I may be one of the experts on how to hate bermuda grass. It is a very admirable plant in some is tough to kill. It spreads by seeds above ground and rhizomes below. It has very deep roots that grow through the hardest clay. These characteristics are the very thing that makes it difficult to control. I say "control" because once you have it, you have it for good.
I'm sure that someone in the nearly 100 responses to this post has mentioned this before, but the only control I have found to be effective requires taking the infested area out of circulation for a full twelve months. You must cover the area with a good quality thick opaque plastic. The lack of sunlight combined with high soil temperatures will kill the bermuda grass is covers. You can then remove the plastic and plant your garden. The grass around the periphery will begin to invade the area you just killed and so you must be vigilant and diligent to dig all the runners and rhizomes out. I spend an inordinate amount of time each season controlling bermuda, but it's worth it. I will be happy to answer specific questions about this any time.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 7:29PM
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I have not found anything that will kill bermuda grass entirely, including digging it up! If you miss one tiny knob it is back!
I've used roundup, I've covered it w/newspapers & cardboard...these will stop it for awhile. I've put down black plastic...left it 2 yrs. and as soon as I moved it the bermuda popped right back up!

My DH won't let me raise any pigs/hogs or I certainly would! (He had to attend a grade school that had a hog farm right up to the school yard...smell makes him sick!)

I have found a couple of grasses that are invading us that are starting to crowd out the bermuda & bahia! I have no idea what the grasses are but one acts/looks like either centipede or st. augistine and the other looks like a creeping red fescue. These keep spreading further each year & I keep having less bermuda & bahia....maybe some day I will be free of it!

    Bookmark   June 29, 2011 at 10:23AM
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Wow, being from Oklahoma I'm just curious as to why you guys hate Bermuda so much. Down here we buy it by the pallet, sod our lawns, and some folks even fertilize it. I understand the need to keep it out of a garden or bed. And I understand the concept of a foreign grass popping up and spoiling the otherwise uniformity of a lawn...but isn't the whole spirit and philosophy of organic gardening to work with nature instead of fighting it. In the case of all the concerns about lawns why don't you just let it take over instead of fighting it? It makes a great nice even dense carpet when cultivated and mowed regularly.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2011 at 6:18PM
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buford(7 NE GA)

Not everyone can just 'let it take over'. First of all, I don't want it in my flower beds. How would you mow the grass in a flower bed? It takes constant edging and pulling out strays to keep it from doing that. The same qualities that make it a great turf also make it a royal pain and them biggest 'weed' in my yard. Add to that if you just have the slightest bit of shade in an area, it will NOT grow.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2011 at 6:38AM
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Hmmm....interesting. I guess I'm just surprised that those who are into the organic philosophy would feel that way. No, it won't grow in shade, that's why you overseed with a shade grass in those areas. In that case you lose uniformity but it seems like a small price to pay to not be wrestling with nature. Let each grass grow where it naturally wants to.

As for the beds, you just have to take a flat bottomed shovel along the edge and push it down several inches to keep the roots cut. Most people install steel edging 3 to 6 inches deep to keep the Bermuda out so they don't have to use the shovel. If you put mulch down, it keeps any runner that does stray in from rooting very deeply before you yank it out. Really its not that hard to keep it out of your beds. But you do have to watch big a deal is it to reach down and pull out 2 or 3 little creepers every now and then while you're enjoying your garden?

I guess its all what you get used to. When I travel and see St. Augustine it looks really clumpy to me, even though the color is great. But I like my dense carpet of green.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2011 at 6:50PM
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buford(7 NE GA)

Bermuda isn't an indigenous grass anyway. So pretending that you are being 'organic' by having it is silly. It's a turf grass for lawns.

I know how to edge, I was simply answering your post above as to why I don't wish to have Bermuda take over my flowerbeds. And yes, it isn't difficult, just incredibly time consuming to constantly edge. Because bermuda grows differently than other grasses. Of course that is one of it's strengths, but also one of it's flaws. It's not one or two little creepers, it's a constant battle. I'd rather spend that time on other chores, thanks.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2011 at 10:00PM
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I don't see the relevance of it not being indigenous. My point is that its easier to take an organic approach if you can live without aesthetic perfection (eg mixed turfs in your lawn). The organic produce is rarely the prettiest in the store.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2011 at 12:42AM
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Cutting runners w/a shovel won't control bermuda for more than a couple of days!
Whomever invented it should be shot!!! Multiple times!!!

I've dug over 12" deep in rock hard clay and still haven't found the end of some runners! And organic or not, roundup won't kill it either...even with several sprayings!

    Bookmark   August 20, 2011 at 1:39PM
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I have seen this stuff grow through-not around or under-concrete in San Diego! I figure dynamite wouldn't even do it for long.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2011 at 11:12PM
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tortuga, I don't think that most people in this thread are concerned about mixed turf in the lawn but about bermuda grass taking over non-lawn areas.

Your "edging" scenario seems to assume that you're separating a Bermuda grass lawn from an area that's completely free of Bermuda grass, so that the only task is to stop invaders at the border. But that "area that's completely free of Bermuda grass" is not, I believe, the usual situation. Generally, the flowerbed or vegetable bed is well infested with bits of the root, and every square inch of it must be patrolled to keep the grass from taking over.

In my vegetable garden, it's not 2 or 3 little creepers every once in a while, it's dozens, and any lapse in vigilance results in a "mini-lawn" in the neglected area.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2011 at 12:58AM
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I have had success in strangling and shading out Bermuda grass by tilling it in the spring and sowing cowpeas thickly in the space. The cowpeas will come up faster than the grass and strangle it out if left over a season. This has worked well for us in preparing beds for vegetable crops the following year or season. The best thing is that cowpeas, when sown with an innoculant, can be tilled back under when they reach maturity and will add nitrogen to the soil. This method saves you from the need to hand weed or use any herbicides, even organic ones, whatsoever. If cowpeas don't grow where you are, I'm sure another cover crop would work if it can grow quickly and thickly.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2011 at 9:13AM
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kivasgrandma(CA Cntrl Coast)

What a great thread! Mucho thanks to Kathy for starting it and for posting a follow up.

My DW and I have recently started a gardening business and wouldn't you know it, our first job is to turn solid BG into an Organic Garden in the strictest sense of the words. No glysophate allowed! I think we are looking at a program of trying to kill the BG tops with an approved herbicide, then dig as much of the roots out as possible, then do raised beds with cardboard in the bottom on top of the Gopher Wire (the gophers here are actually worse than the BG). Then maintain a 2-3' wide cardboarded, mulched death zone, I mean path, around the beds and out to the adjacent alley and parking areas.

I was able to completely eradicate BG once, much to my surprise. We had a french drain excavated with a backhoe and they put the dirt on a patch of BG. This was a 5' tall, 8'x8' pile of dirt. The french drain got filled up with gravel. The dirt was to be used as mound for succulents in a space 50' away. Since it was going to be so much work to move, no one was in a hurry to get started. So the pile sat until it was covered with BG which was not phased by the 5' of dirt on top of it! Ooops! By then it was late fall and it really needed to get moved, given how prominent the ugly pile of dirt was. So I'd shovel a wheelbarrow full of dirt from the pile, picking out all the little roots I could find. DW moved the wheelbarrow and dumped it. I would go and artfully arrange the dirt in the mound, again picking out the little roots as they came up. Finally after about 50 wheelbarrow loads the pile was moved and the mound was built. I refrained from planting in it until spring because I knew the BG would be back. But it never did come back. I picked out a few sprigs here and there but (knock on wood!) here it is 3 years later and it seems to be gone.

I'm in Central CA on the coast. It sounds like our cool temperatures are not perfect for BG. Good luck to you all in OK and TX.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2011 at 3:31PM
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Well, I still feel like you're all missing my point. I am talking both about keeping it out of a flower bed and also trying to keep it from invading your lawn. In the case of the lawn, my point is let each grass grow where the conditions are favorable for it to grow. If taking an organic approach is important to you, then you have to learn to live with a more natural look instead of an artificial homogenous turf of all one grass.

In the case of the beds, I just think you're demanding too much perfection and wanting to eliminate too much work. You will never completely eradicate the bermuda, but steel edging placed 6 to 9 inches deep and some occasional help with a shovel as well as pulling out the occasional runner that makes it under the edging will keep the bermuda from taking over. No guarantees of a 100% bermuda-free bed. And yes, if you had bermuda where the bed is, its going to be harder. The best thing if that bothers you is to light starve that area, plus about a foot around it, for a good long time before you build the bed.

Here in Oklahoma, densely planted beds crowded with perennials that create their own shade and starve the bermuda are very popular. They look a little more jungle-like but they are beautiful and explode with color. You won't as often find beds here that have a bunch of open space covered with mulch. When I go to cooler climates those sparsely planted beds look anemic to me.

My point is that if staying organic is important, you have to quit fighting nature so hard and broaden your sense of aesthetic to encompass a look that is more in line with nature.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2012 at 6:50PM
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Gentle readers, here is a recent link from Sunset magazine on getting rid of bermuda grass
... and a pest note on bermuda grass from UC ICM (although it's from 2007) :

    Bookmark   April 24, 2012 at 11:25AM
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I have been gardening organically for 45 years, 30 of them with Bermuda grass on site. There is NO organic way to get rid of this stuff. It's even hard with Roundup.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2013 at 1:52PM
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I have a back yard full of bermuda. I went looking for an organic method and ran across clear plastic method. I am currently trying it out. I used 6 mil poly. The stuff used by roofers and can take hot sun. Do not use cheap plastic sheeting. The sun will bake it in a week and you'll end up with a sea of disintegrated clear plastic chips all over the yard. My concern with this method is some condensation is under a couple spots and in those 'wet' spots the bermuda is growing green and pretty. Everywhere else underneath the top growth is dead. I do not know if it's working under the soil very far. I hope so. I only have another couple weeks of super hot sun before cooler temps start creating more condensation underneath. So maybe need to put some tiny holes in spots to allow for some air circulation. I'm not sure. I also read that black plastic sheeting may work. This might be so because the bermuda doesn't like the shade in my yard.

Also, I have tried vinegar but it only kills the growth that gets hit by the solution. Works great on 'annual' type weeds but not perennials with underground stolons. Anything underground will continue to grow. You might be able to drench the soil with vinegar/water but that's a lot of vinegar and not sure what the repercussions of that is to the soil content and nutrients.

Be sure to toss any bermuda clippings from the mower into the trash. Little stems will sprout roots. If you tiller the soil, you have to rake as much of it up as possible but tillering may cause tiny slivers to remain and those will sprout. Killing most of it with plastic may allow me to tiller up the parts that didn't die easier than having a full yard of stems to deal with. I really hope this worked and that most of the bermuda is dead. Will see in a couple weeks!

    Bookmark   September 14, 2013 at 12:10AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

I have successfully reclaimed lawn areas from bermuda several times before. This year I am declaring victory over an area of St Augustine that was allowed to dry and die back in 2010. I started caring for it with water and fertilizer but only for the St Aug that survived at the fringe. I also added one flat of Floratam St Augustine in the middle. Today it is all St Aug, again. Unfortunately now, instead of having St Aug invading the garden beds, the bermuda is in there from the past 2 years.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2013 at 2:36PM
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Several people have mentioned vinegar as a topical application to control Bermuda grass. Vinegar alone is not very effective. If you mix equal parts of white vinegar and lemon extract then dilute that mixture with 75% water (white vinegar and lemon extract are then 25% of total solution), you will have an effective organic Bermuda grass killer. Put into sprayer and apply sufficiently to wet the above ground leaves. Apply again in several days and keep repeating until the Bermuda grass no longer grows in your yard. Caution: this organic mixture will also kill garden plants. Another way to kill Bermuda grass is to keep it inundated with water for a week or more. The water will drown the roots. Regarding Roundup, this is a web page intended to inform organic gardeners of methods to use organic techniques to accomplish their gardening objectives. Just about every gardener is familiar with Roundup and its adverse impact on the environment. The amendments to the Constitution have nothing to do with what is posted here but good, civilized, behavior dictates you honor the intent of the web site. Therefore, if Roundup is your solution, you probably should go peddle that solution on a Roundup web page, thereby keeping peace with the organic gardeners who work hard to try to keep that "organic" label in their work and products.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 10:56AM
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WOW, I read this thread because I put raised beds in an area that had bermuda, after digging it out, but I am still pulling bermuda out of them after 4 years. I was hoping there was an organic answer, because, I don't use chemicals for my raised bed, Bird, Bee and Butterfly Garden.
Evidently Not....

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 8:48PM
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"Round Up and the other glyphosate products should not be brought up and discussed, much less advocated, in an organic gardening forum."

Gardenweb is for the dissemination of information, Not for pushing an agenda of ignorance.

If roundup is the least hazardous, most effective solution, it's what he should be using. Vinegar is a waste of time, effort, and money, and does way more damage than roundup does.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 11:14AM
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Debra, I'm luckier than you, I read this thread before starting a useless war against bermuda grass, hence saved time ;-)

Now I just feel sorry for the plants in my garden who don't like growing among BG !

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 9:31AM
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Has anyone seen if goats + chickens that scratch up ground

will work ? on old 1800 pics. settlers will have a dirt yard & chickens in the front .

    Bookmark   June 15, 2014 at 12:21PM
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Has anyone seen if goats + chickens that scratch up ground will work?

Only on the above-ground parts, and they nibble them to nubs, not dig them out. As soon as there is water, it sprouts again.

HERE'S THE DEAL WITH BERMUDA GRASS FOLKS: It's an African grass that comes from an area with crappy soil and months-long dry seasons. It is regularly eaten to the bare dirt and stomped on by migrating swarms of wildebeest and gnus and locusts and regrows with the next rainstorm. It can regenerate from any fragment of underground rhizome that has a "node".

You are trying to kill it with diluted organic apple cider vinegar? Hand-pulling? That's like using a pea-shooter on an elephant.

You have to use something that can kill the deep roots and the underground rhizomes or it WILL come back like Freddy Kruger. The clear advantage of glyphosate is that it kills from the roots upwards by messing up the metabolism of the plant ... it is moved from the leaves to the roots by translocation, and kills the roots and rhizomes. Eventually. Even glyphosate usually needs a series of applications a couple of weeks apart.

Used meticulously, and used in a way that takes advantage of translocation in vigorously growing plants, glyphosate will kill Bermuda grass with no collateral damage. (Basically, get the grass growing well, then spray, then mow short a few days later. If you withold water, mow and pull and till and try to use glyphosate to "kill what's left" it will fail.)

For sprig-killing, look up The "tongs of Death" or the "Tongs of Doom"

    Bookmark   June 15, 2014 at 6:58PM
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Death to bermuda grass.

I fight a never-ending war.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 1:18PM
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slowjane CA/ Sunset 21

Just thought I'd add my 2 cents to the archive here...

I managed to pull the BG from our front yard last summer - only maybe 250 sq ft, so I could do it myself - took maybe 3 short days on hands and knees - using a garden weasel to loosen it and break it up, or hand fork with a big chopping motion if the ground was too solid - I sifted out the stolons and rhizomes carefully, and as best as I could - they were mostly in the top 4 inches or so and are connected underground like the stolons above ground.

I then solarized it (after loads of research about that process) using clear plastic (which heats up more than black and recommended for our climate/season) for 6 weeks. However, I started this in August so only a few weeks of that was really hot - and the second part of it basically just brought up the other weeds because the area received much less sun as the days shortened. But that was also beneficial.

I find a bit here and there coming up from a rhizome which are very easy to pull because they're orphaned underground, cut off from the network. I now have it planted with native CA plants, and mulched with free city mulch.

Bermuda is bad. But I have quite a few other things on my list that drive me nuts too. ;) I pulled up a stinging nettle with my bare hand the other day not knowing any better and that made an impression, for sure.

Anyway, that is my story in case it's useful. I don't think roundup is inevitable, nor do I think you have to accept bermuda if you don't want to and are willing to do the labor or hire other people to do the labor of removal.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2014 at 3:30PM
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Thanks slowjane,

I don't think RU is inevitable either. I got rid of all my front and back yard BG in Lexington KY by saturating it with water, about a dozen square feet at a time, and digging it up with a potato fork. I piled up the big hanks of sod on my driveway and let it desiccate in the sun. I immediately covered the bare dirt with a foot deep of wood chips. The big hanks of dried sod had too much dirt on them to go in the yard waste bin, so I piled them up, root side up, in a back corner. After a year they never did come back to life.

The most important phase of this process is saturating the patch before digging it up. Then the only problem is the pieces of sod are heavy with water, but if you chop them up a bit before piling them in the wheel barrow, they are manageable.

(Here in North FL it seems that my soil is too pine straw rich for BG. But the poison ivy grows like English. :) I think I'll try horticultural lime after my lizards and snakes are asleep for the winter.)

    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 8:21PM
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    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 1:21AM
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    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 1:57AM
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How to Successfully Kill Bermuda Grass...The Cheap way!

I have been combating Bermuda Grass in my San Diego Garden for 6 years.
I have tried many techniques, but there really is only 1 guaranteed method for Bermuda Grass removal.

List of Tools you will need:
- Large pickax
- Gloves
- Strong Back
- Time
- Water
- Rake

Pick a small spot on the yard, and start digging a hole, about 3 inches deep
(In my case, the Bermuda rhizomes/roots grow 12 inches deep)
Fill the new hole with water, and wait for the water to drain into the dirt. (This will soften the dirt, making it easier to dig deeper and deeper)

Then just keep digging, until you get all the roots out.

Yes, its back braking work
Yes, it takes a long time

But its cheap, and good exercise, and chemical free.

The trick is to focus on underground roots.
Once the dirt is soft, and the roots are chopped up, you can rake the Bermuda roots away, and let them bake in the sun, or just pick them up and throw them away.

Happy Digging!!

Sandro G

    Bookmark   January 30, 2015 at 12:17PM
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Bermuda grass roots can grow 6 ft down.
Didn't see anyone using several thickness of landscape
Fabric and mulch, cedar if you can get it.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2015 at 1:00PM
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slowjane CA/ Sunset 21

That's a common misconception about the depth of the roots - the water seeking roots may go that far - but not the *rhizomes*, which is what resprouts. Those are only about 6 inches down, like Sandro said. They run laterally like the stolons above ground. It is absolutely possible to dig them out. I did last year (granted on a small yard) by myself with a small pickaxe and have had almost no regrowth. The bits that do come up aren't attached to larger systems so are easy to pull. I agree with Sandro - worked for me.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2015 at 1:08PM
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In the Deep South they do grow that deep.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2015 at 1:16PM
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slowjane CA/ Sunset 21

The roots might - but not the rhizomes. Roots don't regenerate - rhizomes do. If you can pull all of those, you will get rid of it - even if you don't pull all the roots. It's easy to tell the difference. Rhizomes are much bigger and attached differently.

Also I would think that the roots would go as deep here in Southern California - since we get so little rain. Natives have root systems up to 30 feet deep.

Re: rhizomes vs. roots - See the link below.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2015 at 1:59PM
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Even here, roundup is recommended.

How about light exclusion? No matter what you do weeds can reseed or re spread from surrounding areas back into the controlled area. But walking around with glyphosate in a sprayer is not the answer people are seeking in an ORGANIC forum. Moderators???

    Bookmark   February 1, 2015 at 8:34PM
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9 years of posts and 90 minutes of reading later...I'm convinced that we are fighting a monster! I'm in drought stricken central TX and if we want any semblance of a lawn in any sunny area, then we need bermuda. Vegetable gardening is my concern. My thought is to place 11" raised beds for vegetable gardening over the bermuda with a 1/2- 1" layer of newspaper and cardboard. The NP/CB layer would be covered with 11" of veggie soil compost. May be a dumb question, but would the NP/CB layer coupled with the 11" of soil compost be enough to "drown out" any attempt from the bermuda to push through to the top of the raised bed veggie soil? Any successes or thoughts?

    Bookmark   February 15, 2015 at 8:51AM
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zeuspaul(9b SoCal)

That sounds more like a container than a raised bed. The newspaper layer will also contain the vegetable roots. Eleven inches for the roots in a dry climate doesn't seem like enough.

I would opt for large containers or an elaborate raised bed. For a raised bed you would need a bermuda barrier going down several feet. Two feet might not be enough. The bermuda will find the water from the raised bed and dive deep to get it. Three foot deep barrier might work. Perhaps a vinyl floor mat placed vertically around the perimeter with some way to join the ends.

I don't know how big of a garden you want. You might try a group of 25 gal nursery pots raised off the ground. Bermuda will creep into the drain holes if given a chance.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2015 at 1:44PM
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"any successes or thoughts ?" I can just tell about my failure, sorry ;-(

Last year, I tried to dig out by hands all bermuda stolons from 2 beds, it took me several week ends. Then I put about one foot of manure and straw, and 2 months later I planted in holes filled with vermicompost. Those 2 beds were the worst invaded ones. The BG stiffled all tomatoes plants, and those were the best plants I had grown from seeds. The zukes did a little better, because they're fast growers and shade the grass. So in August I started piling grass cuttings on top of everything, plants included, and put about a foot of a hot slimy mess. Then I put whole newspapers and straw. At the end of September, those pointy heads of BG were already appearing through everything :-(

I also built 2 or 3 other beds without digging (no time), I just put some manure on top of BG then planted tomatoes and obviously BG grew amongst the toms but was less aggressive than where I had tried to dig it out.

I'm going on experimenting this 2nd year, it's a war with multiple strategies :

Raised mounds, about 2 feet high, built with 2 or 3 layers of card board and newspapers at different levels. They'll be covered with Crimson clover and I'll interplant the veggies in the clover. I started raising them in October, and add stuff on top along the way. I introduced worms in the mounds, hoping they'll eat some of the, I hope, agonizing BG.

On top of the "lawn", a lot of white clover seeds in Automn (15 kg/30 lbs for a 350 m2/3500 square feet) and same again in a few weeks. I hope the clover will stiffle the BG, but that might be just a dream.

Fertilize the "lawn" only till January when BG is dormant to feed all weeds and grass but BG. Though I'm not sure that'll work since organic fertilizers have a long term effect that could benefit BG.

The patches of pure BG has easily seen in winter since they're ugly and brownish, so I buried them in sawdust mixed with bags and bags of decaying pine needles to encourage saprotrophic organisms to feed on the agonizing BG underneath.

I guess I appear as crazy and honest I think somehow I am. I can't help noticing all the BG growing everywhere now when I'm driving around, our roadsides, roundabouts, countryside, everywhere here nowadays is just covered with this brownish grass that you can't help noticing when you've started to fight it in your own garden. Why do some people feel the need to buy seeds of BG is just beyond my understanding !

I'll keep posting with my war's results next spring and summer when heat brings the monster back to life.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2015 at 12:09AM
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Hi all,

This has been a fascinating thread, and I thought I'd add my experience. I purchased my one acre property 14 years ago and the was pretty much all Bermuda grass and non-native shrubs. I hate mowing. I'm also too cheap to pay someone to dig out all that Bermuda, and too lazy to do the digging myself. I am patient and persistent though, and this is what worked for me:

I only worked on one small section at a time. I mowed the grass short in the area I wanted to work on, spread 2 layers of wet cardboard down, then covered the cardboard with large piles of horse manure. (I have two horses who were happy to provide the manure.) As others have mentioned, the Bermuda will come up through the manure, BUT it is super easy to pull at that point. It just comes up in long strings. I would hand pull it, or use one of those garden forks to lift it out. I think the key is to have such a thick layer of manure that by the time the grass leaves get to the surface, you are pulling out most of the attached rhizomes. The cardboard slows the grass down too, so I can keep up with it.

It took a long time to get rid of it all, but I was spending about the same amount of time on each section each week that it would take to mow that section anyway. I'd start a new section when I wasn't spending too much time keeping the previous section Bermuda-free. I was also planting natives in the former lawn while the process continued.

Now, it doesn't come back anymore. It's gone. It was easy work compared to all the digging I'm hearing about, and I think the process looks better than all the clear plastic other people use to solarize the stuff. Yes, it did take about three years per section for all the Bermuda to be completely gone and not come back, but like I said, I'm patient, persistent, lazy and cheap, so it worked for me.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2015 at 12:23PM
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gardnerbecky- So if I understand you correctly, you placed 2 layers of cardboard and then some manure and the BG came through anyway. How thick was the layer of manure?

My plan for my veggie garden is to place at lest 3/4" of cardboard and newspaper first and then place the 11" of veggie soil compost on top of that within a 12"Hx4'Wx18'L self contained bed. Do you think that the BG will work it's way through the 3/4"cardboard/newspaper and the 11"+ of soil?

    Bookmark   February 16, 2015 at 1:43PM
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slowjane CA/ Sunset 21

how big is your veggie garden? i agree that the cardboard will stop your veggie roots from going down into the soil which could stunt at least some of your plants depending on what they are. if it's not such a huge garden i would say just fill your beds, plant them and hand pull the bermuda when you see it. it will take a little while for it to come up through 11" of soil - and you'll be pulling weeds anyway. maybe i'm crazy but three years is a long time to wait! ;)

1 Like    Bookmark   February 16, 2015 at 2:43PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Anything but chemicals?

You apparently didn't finished reading the entire thread before posting. Contrary to popular belief, bermuda can be eradicated by smothering it with almost anything that's 2 inches deep. Even compost will take it out. It will also disappear by growing St Augustine and mowing the St Aug at 4 inches tall. The St Aug will invade the bermuda and the shade from the coarse blades of the St Aug will thin the bermuda until it's gone.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2015 at 5:53AM
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