how to kill bermuda grass?

lemonlime(Denver 5)May 21, 2007

quite awhile ago, i posted about converting from a bermuda grass lawn to desert. finally decided to get started on the project by killing off the lawn last summer - some of the advice i got was to simply quit watering it. which i did -- the lawn got no water last summer and seemed to be dead beyond all doubt.

in january, i hired a landscaping company to help with the project, explained my concerns about completely eradicating the bermuda grass, etc.... so they used some grass killer, probably roundup.

for the last couple months the bermuda grass is back -- all over the yard, in spots where it gets drip irrigation by the new plants, and in completely non-watered spots. it's driving me crazy....besides water conservation, i wanted to have a zero to low-maintenance yard that looked neat and tidy. i've used round up which works, and i've called the landscaping company a million times because a) i paid him to get rid of the lawn and b) he said he would come spray if the grass did grow through the gravel. of course he never responds or shows up, but that's another topic.

help please :) is there anything i can do to win this battle? if i spray diligently with grasskiller everytime i see a new piece of grass will i eventually destroy it all?

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If you quit watering, Bermuda can still come back even after a very long time.
You fell for an urban legend and that can cost you time and money.
No fears, good info is available from reputable sources like the Cooperative extension.
Their Central AZ websites: There is a search function at page bottom. for central Arizona monthly gardening tips

Great, I can't find the part about killing lawns.

Anyhow, I did get rid of my bermuda lawn and here's how.
First I watered and mowed, then watered again, got it going real good. Then I masked plants I wanted to save with newspaper wrapped around them. Then I sprayed the grass with glyphosate. (this is the Roundup without the other chemicals). I got the concentrate and followed the directions for killing bermuda.
Then I waited.
I used it in the summer. Since glyphosate spreads through the whole plant even to the roots, it takes some time before the grass looks dead. We got a good root kill on this one time spray on the whole lawn one summer. There wasn't much coming up after that.
I sprayed the minor traces that came back the next two following summers and that was that. Ok, I kept looking around and digging out whatever looked suspicious but it's all gone now.
My shrubs don't have grass coming up through them, it's great.

Bermuda is a tough grass and spreads through the roots and stems lying on the ground an by seed, too! Glyphosate moves through the whole plant. Some other stuff will just kill the top and leave the roots.
You might notice that it takes a while before the grass looks dead. This is normal. The quick kill look can mean that only the top was killed and that won't do it for Bermuda.

Glyphosate works only when used when the grass is actively growing. That means watering the grass and mowing it. Mowing stimulates growth.
Time of year matters, too. Bermuda grows actively when it's good and hot. Not fun to be out there then but that is when the glyphosate works it's wonders.

Since killing that lawn, I planted lots of great stuff that doesn't need a lot of water and have big desert trees now shading the house.
I do not water more than I need to. That makes seeds that float in less likely to take and keeps weeding down.

Here's a good book for your new desert yard:
Earth-Friendly Desert Gardening: Growing in Harmony with Nature Saves Time, Money and Resources
by Cathy L. Cromell, Jo Miller, Lucy K. Bradley, Austin Janice (Illustrator)
Cathy Cromell is a reliable local garden writer and has other books, too.
Her monthly notes at

    Bookmark   May 21, 2007 at 4:18PM
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Forgot one thing. When I mixed the glyphosate, I added a couple of drops of detergent to it. That helps it stick to the grass and that helps.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2007 at 5:09PM
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Just one thing. After it's all gone?..... it will be back. Look at the size of Bermuda seed and look at all the bermuda in your neighborhood. Wind will re-plant it for you and the best way to stay ahead of it is to use a pre-emergent regularly after you have everything cleaned up and planted... and keep the bottle of roundup handy.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2007 at 6:23PM
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Here's a good link on killing Bermuda grass. Remember, if it's not done properly, Bermuda grass will live FOREVER.

Here is a link that might be useful: Killing Bermuda

    Bookmark   May 23, 2007 at 11:06PM
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cactushugger(Phoenix AZ)

The method I'm using to suppress Bermuda is to create DENSE
SHADE. My yard has open stretches where the Bermuda lawn is
desirable, but in other areas among the trees and shrubs the grass is a devilish nuisance. Roundup is used judiciously to control unwanted spread here and there, but shade is the main weapon by closely placing trees, plus varieties of dense shrubs and vines, to gradually develop an inpenetrable summer "jungle" canopy. All citrus trees are currently allowed to branch down to the rootstock, only suckering on the rootstock itself being pruned off. Cheap stepping stones sunk into the ground circle the base of smaller trees and shrubs to avoid mowing/weedwhacking too near the trunks and some hand work is still necessary to clip grass right at the trunks until the shade canopy is dense enough to make mowing and stones unnecessary. Careful intermingling of certain deciduous with evergreen trees allows fall/winter sun to reach evergreen fruit trees (citrus, loquat, etc). One large grapefruit tree I know in Phoenix has its canopy drip line touching the ground and is hollowed out underneath creating a tent; the grass, rife in the open, is non-existent under that canopy tent. Of course, this shade method is kinda slow to take effect and larger yards need correspondingly more plants or larger trees with long term planning.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2007 at 3:24PM
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That's good advice on how to kill the bermuda. It has to be healthy and happy, otherwise it is almost impossible to kill. Once you kill the grass consider using a high quality weed barrier. This will not only prevent grass from coming up, but also prevent future weeds or grass grown by seed. A good investment over time. Pioneer sand and other landscape supply companies carry this product (it looks like spun fiberglass). Don't use the stuff from Home Depot.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2007 at 3:30AM
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Where can you get the glyphosate?

    Bookmark   June 16, 2008 at 12:03AM
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I have found that product sold at Lowes:
America's Groundskeeper (41% Glyphosate) the concentrate makes up to 85 gallons. The price is normally $49.95 I got mine on sale for $29.95

    Bookmark   June 16, 2008 at 10:51AM
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Hey thanks mudrakle, I can't say I've seen that product, but I did start looking for the glyphosate. My Dad has a neighbor who has a yard full of bermuda, which the neighbor thinks that is ok to have such a invasive grass in their neighborhood. My dad some how started using "poison ivy" killer by ortho and it has put a hault to any spreading into his lawn. No new shoots and the more mature parts have died off back to the neighbors yard.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2008 at 11:39PM
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Get a female dog :-)

Mine is doing a great job of killing my grass....and that is not my goal.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2008 at 5:48PM
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Bermuda is nasty stuff...I get it all over my yard from birds pooping out the seeds that neighbors have planted. *GRRRRRRR*

I will be planting about 400 sq. ft. of grass sometime this year, but decided on Tall Fescue, which is NOT invasive like Bermuda. And still tolerates drought. And stays green year round. But I am planting this on the east side of my house which isn't in direct sun the entire day, so that may be the difference.

You could not pay me to plant Bermuda. I've spent too many hours trying to get rid of it in my rocks. From what I have read, the roots are over a foot deep, and you need to kill those darn roots or it will keep coming back.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2008 at 12:50AM
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rogunit(z9b AZ)

Corn gluten. After killing it (or in aras you don't want it to spread to) sprinkle some corn gluten around. It prevents roots from growing. It will also prevent weed seeds from germinating too. All natural and safe... no poisons.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2008 at 8:42PM
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petzold6596(8b southern NM)

Glyphosate is found on the ingredients position of the label. Roundup was the first to market glyphosate. There a number of other brands, I just purchased a qt. bottle of 41% glyphosate made by Cheveron for $15.00 at Lowes. It takes 1 1/2 oz. per gallon of water.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2008 at 9:58PM
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I wish I had looked at this site last winter. It was then that we used a complete grass and weed killer (I think it was an ortho product) on our bermuda lawn. We did not realize that the lawn needed to be actively growing to absorb the poison...duh! We then laid a brick patio on the area. Now our patio is exploding with little blades of grass creeping out everywhere. We have since used two other grass killers but it is still coming up. Is there anything that can be done besides pulling up our whole patio and starting over?

    Bookmark   March 25, 2009 at 7:04PM
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petzold6596(8b southern NM)

You can continue to fight or start over. I would start over even though it seem like a lot of work now in the long run it will save time.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2009 at 12:27PM
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The only other options would be a total vegetation killer like Triox. But if you have any tree roots under the patio, the tree could die too. Same for any shrubs surrounding the patio. Its a very toxic chemical, and you should always follow the directions on the label.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2009 at 6:59PM
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This guy has good ideas about killing bermuda

    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 2:43PM
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You can't kill it with one application, and you can't kill it with neglect.

Read my article, please.

Here is a link that might be useful: How to kill Bermuda

    Bookmark   April 9, 2009 at 11:04AM
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After reading many good suggestions I have noticed shade and a female dog do the trick of getting rid of this nuscience that is choking out my garden. Also chemicals and a lot of hard work. I have tried corn gluten and it works minimally. So here is what I am going to try in the heat of the summer.

1. Water and feed my grass well for several weeks so every kind of grass (what I do want and the Bermuda) is doing well.
2. Let my grass grow long and tall (the Bermuda won't do this)
3. Apply a 20% vinegar to the Bermuda grass. (like dog pee but easier to spray)
4. Repeat till its not hot and in the fall or late August when the Bermuda is stressed from the vinegar and shade from the long grass, add the wheat gluten, grass seed, and fertilizer.

I'll let you know how it works.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2009 at 4:06PM
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greenlust(z9 Phx,AZ)

Some cities give upto $500 tax rebate for converting grass lawn to low water use Xeriscape. Phoenix doesnt do this but i heard scottsdale/chandler/Mesa has similar stuff.
Here is link to city of Mesa website
Before you guys run out to lawn and destroy have to have a city employee come see the lawn first then fill out paperwork then they will check the converted xeriscape and you get the rebate.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2009 at 9:24PM
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you won't kill it- this summer i poured bags and bags of solar salt onto our lawn, as well as copious amounts of herbicides. (worry not- this was far from any innocent plants!) for the most part, it worked, and we built a brick patio over it. however, a year later, and through complete neglect, i am seeing clumps of the stuff pop up again!

    Bookmark   June 19, 2009 at 3:23PM
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