Help! Bermuda Grass taking over

dinajean(upstate SC -Zone 7b)August 11, 2007

I am actually posting for some friends who I am going to help on Tuesday weed their garden. They have all the right stuff down, the weed guard, the mulch, the rocks around the bed...but the bermuda grass wont stay out! I am going there Tuesday to yank it, but I was hoping someone could give me some tips as to how to keep it away!!! It is hard for my friends to get out and weed even on a weekly basis as they have triplet toddlers who keep them very busy! Any suggestions would be awesome. Any do I need to know anything special when I pull the stuff? I dont have it where I am, 2 towns over, so I dont have any experience with it, thank goodness!

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I have bermuda, though I grow it on purpose because it doesn't require water in the summer and it stands up to my three dogs.

There isn't any way I know of to keep it out, it's more of a maintenance issue. If I want to keep it at bay I have to go out at least once a week and pull.

If you use a straight edge shovel and go around the edge of the beds it usually pulls up a little easier. The weed guard, if you're talking about the mesh stuff, makes it harder to get out.

Good luck.


    Bookmark   August 11, 2007 at 1:49PM
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dottie_in_charlotte(z7-8 NC)

Yanking won't do it. Some of those cable-like roots are feet below the surface, especially when there is drought.
However, August is the prime month for killing bermuda with herbicides.
Or, you could move, like I did.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2007 at 3:16PM
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carolezone7b(Zone 8/Tega Cay,SC)

To kill bermuda grass in a garden....use "Grass-B-Gone". I have a golf course in the back yard that is all bermuda and has slowly been taking over my lawn. I ignore it mostly but when it starting growing in my rose gardens it was time to do something. It took several applications but I finally won. And didn't bother the roses one bit. Just be sure you get "Grass-B-Gone" and nothing else.


    Bookmark   August 11, 2007 at 4:05PM
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It depends on the variety. I bought a hybridized bermuda that has a shallower root system and isn't as aggressive as some I've seen. I can yank mine pretty easy and other than what creeps back into the bed it doesn't come up again.


    Bookmark   August 11, 2007 at 4:05PM
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The weed fabric just makes it worse because the runners get in under it and by the time you realize it's there, it's in there good. Weed fabric is really only sort of effective against weed seeds that drift in, not stuff with runners.

You definitely want to minimize the edges on bermuda (and other creepers). Having a lot of islands within the bermuda only increases the amount of work you have to do. Everywhere bermuda meets mulch, that's a place you'll have to weed.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2007 at 5:23PM
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dottie_in_charlotte(z7-8 NC)

oh dinajean...wash your shoes when you get back so you're not transferring bermuda seed to your area.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2007 at 11:43AM
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nckvilledudes(7a NC)

Try googling a product called Ornamec. It is supposedly a weed killer that can be sprayed around a long list of other plants and it won't hurt them but can kill bermuda grass. You have to apply it a total of three times-early spring when it starts growing, mid summer when it is growing, and then in the fall when it is storing nutrients for next year. If you can once eradicate it from your beds, making deep trenches along the edges of the beds and religiously keeping it free of the runners can go a long way of keeping it out of your beds. Oh yeah, don't blow any grass clippings towards the beds or you can transfer more seeds into them.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2007 at 2:37PM
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If you use a string trimmer, any piece of Bermuda grass that gets flipped into your garden will root there.

So says Paul James, the Gardner Guy. He says barriers have to be deep and high to stop Bermuda grass.

Despite these problems, he loves Bermuda. I HATE it.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2007 at 4:05PM
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pfmastin(8 N. Carolina)

If you can't find Ornamec, you can look for Grass-B-Gone by Ortho or Over-The-Top by Fertilome. Read all label directions.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2007 at 7:53PM
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Are you talking about "bermuda grass" that people purposely plant that looks great on golf courses or are you talking about the grass I refer to as "WIRE GRASS" which is a weed and is sometimes refered to as bermuda grass. I assume Paul James would not plant "wire grass" nor anyone else for that matter.

Wire grass is another story all together. Some of the above threads seem to be talking about the true purposely planted bermuda grass and others the weed "wire grass. (never could understand why they have the same name.) At any rate, the weed is very difficult to get under control and pulling is the first of many long steps. I have the same problem from a fill dirt I purchased. The wire grass takes over before you can sneeze at it. Round Up or the Grass B Gone is as good as any but it will take several times to be effective and a lot of pulling each time you see a new blade. Good luck. By the way, you are a saint to help your friends with such a labor task. Lots of elbow grease needed.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2007 at 12:11PM
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The bermuda I am talking about was purposely planted by evil developers when my house was built. This is not the pretty bermuda you see on golf courses, at least not when it's grown on the sandy soil we happen to have. I admit it does at least have a better color where it invades my amended beds, but give me a grass that stays put, even if it has to be reseeded ever year.

Now my neighbor's zoysia is lovely, but they paid a lot for it and it took years to overcome the crappy bermuda it replaced.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2007 at 12:56PM
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dinajean(upstate SC -Zone 7b)

Hey y'all thanks for the input! I started this morning at 8AM and worked till 11:30, then it got too hot. I got about 2/3 of it done. IF ONLY I HAD KNOWN....Oh my goodness. I need to go back and finish. One question. They left for 1 week today for vaca so they will not even see how incredible this garden looks if it grows back as fast as everyone says. Is that the truth???? Gosh, I sure hope they get to see the results before it grows back.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2007 at 1:35PM
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pfmastin(8 N. Carolina)

I was referring to common bermudagrass (wire grass). It's the species and the fancy golf course kinds are hybrids of that same species. It's only redeeming quality is that it's drought resistant. Most centipede lawns in my area are looking pretty stressed.

Yes, it's the devil. But it's what's mostly growing in my yard and I'm not starting all over.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2007 at 4:30PM
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NCKVILLEDUDES - Do you use the ornamec Over the Top product or the 170 Grass Herbicide. Both labels seem OK for the wire grass. I would order the 170 if using only for the wiregrass but thought maybe the Over the Top would have more uses?????

    Bookmark   August 15, 2007 at 11:03AM
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5 years of fighting Bermuda has me convinced....
The only way to get rid of it short of Napalm is to
plant Kudzu instead.... :)

Like the other poster said.... How do you get rid of Bermuda
grass in your yard? Move!


    Bookmark   August 22, 2007 at 3:37PM
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nckvilledudes(7a NC)

Ncgardner, I haven't used either. Luckily I don't have bermuda grass or wire grass. My mom does have bermuda grass, the developer sodded the entire neighborhood off of Rea Road in Charlotte with it. God knows why. I was researching something to use in her beds if the stuff got out of hand a while back and came across info about Ornamec. Luckily, I get down to her home in Charlotte frequently enough to keep it out of the beds so that I have not had to consider using it--- YET!!!!

    Bookmark   August 23, 2007 at 1:32AM
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coorscat(6 and 9)

LOL on the kudzu and napalm Lee. Thanks for the laugh! I really needed it this morning.


    Bookmark   August 23, 2007 at 10:15AM
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esha ga, or anyone who knows, how does the bermuda grass grow under weed fabric if it gets no light. Sorry for the ignorance, but I've always wondered and since you mentioned it....

    Bookmark   August 24, 2007 at 10:59AM
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dottie_in_charlotte(z7-8 NC)

It's the rooted rhyzomes(?) that grow under the fabric and the ends which will sprout the grass leaves are sharply pointed to pierce soil and mulch to get above ground. It gets through black plastic like butter but takes a bit longer to get through fresh fabric. In time, it will pierce the fabric.
Wild bermuda you have to dig very deeply to get out and because it is segmented, if you leave any small portion with rootlets, will regrow.
I had to fine sift out all my veg. garden soil to get rid of it. Believe me, that was the most arduous job but necessary because I'd mistakenly rototilled young bermuda into the soil one year thinking burying it would kill it.
The easiest to pull is young plants that sprout from last years seed(ha..could be seed from years ago brought to the surface by tilling).

Ultimately, I joke ..and no one is allowed on my lawn with golf shoes on since the golf course is primarily all kinds of bermuda.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2007 at 2:35PM
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Wow! I was hoping I might get some advice other than moving house!

Just moved to SC from England (we love our green lawns) and coming to terms with the amount of aggressive plants growing in my new garden. I've been attacking what must be the 'wire' bermuda and it's tough stuff.

My thinking is that pulling at the stems is pointless as they just snap off and leave the roots. You have to dig down and get your fingers right into the roots and tease the whole lot out. It's gonna take some work though. In the meantime I'll rake the lawn with a hard-tooth rake as often as I can to pull up all the runners which will at least be cut off when I mow it. And I've dug it out firstly around the borders and the walls of the house (where it thrives), covering over with several inches of pine needles after, this way it'll have nowhere to retreat... I hate it already!

    Bookmark   March 17, 2010 at 4:59AM
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pfmastin(8 N. Carolina)

Hi busy b,

I have a whole lawn of common bermudagrass (no choice, long story) and can give you all the horror stories. :) I'm finally resigning myself to the fact that a lawn in my part of North Carolina will never be like the Kentucky bluegrass that I grew up with or the tall fescue lawn we had in Pennsylvania. But I LOVE gardening in North Carolina.

You're right in that simply pulling it will make a dent. You have to get every little piece with a node on it. The roots and stolons can be VERY deep in the soil. I've had to clear out beds and start over again killing bermudagrass when I've been too impatient to wait and see that it was all killed before I planted. It's impossible to disentangle it from perennial, shrub or tree roots. I created many of my beds by layering newspaper/cardboard over the grass for a few weeks to kill the grass, but bermudagrass will grow right up through it.

I think you're on the right track by keeping it away from the borders. I try to leave a foot or so around each bed border without plantings so I have some leeway and a chance to get all the stolons out before it creeps into herbaceous plant roots. I have sandy soil, but in sturdier soil, you can dig a little trench around the bed border to separate lawn from the bed and it helps you to see what's happening with the invasive grass.

If you're not adverse to using Roundup, it works well. I've had to resort to that in some places.

Hope this helps!

    Bookmark   March 17, 2010 at 9:56PM
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You might win the battle but not the war. Though Bermuda Grass gets a lot of 'hate' from gardeners, it is no worse than a whole lot of turf grasses. It has its good points and bad. Personally I hate it for a completely different reason - it is known to harbor a fungus that lives on the stolons and in the thatch. Some people are allergic to that fungus, I am one of them. Mowing it or being nearby when anyone is mowing it sends my allergies into overdrive. I can sense it in the air when a neighbor down the street is mowing. Where I live now I am lucky that the lawn is mostly Centipede Grass which is just as aggressive as Bermuda but it stays so short it rarely needs mowing and it doesn't seem to harbor the fungus.

If you dig a ten inch to one foot trench around the front of all your flower beds and fill it with fluffy mulch or compost you will be able to keep the creeping weeds and turf grasses under control. The fluffy layer allows for easy pulling. BUT - you have to pull weeds almost every night in the summer. If you miss a week or so you'll be behind and the grass will win over the flowerbed.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2010 at 10:08AM
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dottie_in_charlotte(z7-8 NC)

Yeah, I moved and not fighting the wiregrass but fighting the Poa annua grass and the lawn crew who persistently blow grass trimmings back into my border gardens (no matter how many times I explain why not to)
But, anything is better than wild bermuda imbedded into chunks of solid red clay deep underground.

Welcome to busy b.. everything right now is gloriously green until you look and see how much is weed grass and how little might be sod grass.
That poa annua is a small clump..about 2inches wide and maybe 2inches tall but sets about a hundred or more seeds in late winter early fall. In SC it's probably mature enough to shed the seeds. I'm on the border of NC/SC and what remains of the poa annua is just trying now to develop the seeds. One of those pull by hand weeds.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2010 at 2:18PM
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dottie_in_charlotte(z7-8 NC)

Farewell to our wonderful gardener Miguel, nckvilledudes, who posted with much wise advice to this and many other threads. Miguel..we shall miss you greatly and hope in this 'move' you shall find only pretty flowers and sweet scents and no darn wiregrass.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2010 at 2:24PM
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