Flower beds or vegetable garden with bermuda

melissia(7)April 27, 2008

As some of you know, we are trying to get our gardens going at our new place. . . the bermuda seems to already be taking over -- I just cannot keep up -- please offer some solutions. I havent planted flowers in the beds yet, but I tilled them the same time as the vegetable garden and grass is already trying to creep in -- should I just do containers because it is a lost cause?


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If you want to get rid of Bermuda grass, never till it. Every teeny tiny part of it that gets chopped up seems to take root and grow and you end up making things worse. (I learned from experience). Best to just keep at it and dig it out as you go. Also, plant thickly so that the other plants create so much shade that the Bermuda cannot grow - it needs lots of sunlight. Weeds know how to get rid of it...they shade it out!

You can spot spray it with Round-up in your flower gardens, but you will have top protect your flowers and shrubs from getting any spray on them.

There maybe lots of remedies other than these, but it still requires that you do it over and over and over.

It just takes time to get rid of it and then you have to stay vigilant as it likes to grow in from other places.

Not the news you wanted, I know, but it is the only suggestions I can offer.

Maybe someone else will come on and give you some other advice. I'd like to hear it, myself!

Best Wishes.
~ sweetannie4u

    Bookmark   April 27, 2008 at 5:27PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


The only way to garden without bermuda grass is to move somewhere really, really cold (like Alaska) where bermuda grass won't grow. Aside from that, I still think hand-digging is the best answer. Understand, though, that hand-digging is not something you do only once....you have to do it over and over and over again for as long as you live or until your landscape either: (a) becomes so shady as trees mature that bermuda will not grow there, or (b) you give up, pave over the bermuda, paint the concrete green and call it a "lawn".

We've been here 9 years and I still have to hand-dig bermuda out of veggie beds and mixed tree/shrub/flower beds, but I don't have to dig out as much as I used to. There really is less and less every year as long as you don't let it come back into a bed and totally take over.

If you want to go the preferred organic route, you could try Scythe, which is about the strongest organic herbicide I've found.

If you want to go the chemical route, you can use Ornamec 170 in flower beds, but I don't believe it is labeled for use in vegetable gardens or under the drip line of fruit trees or bushes, berry brambles, or edible herbs. You'll have to check the Ornamec 170 label (usually available online in a PDF file) to see the approximate 500 flowers and plants--including many grasses--it is safe to use on. It is an over-the-top herbicide, meaning you spray it into an existing bed of something desireable--like your flower beds--to kill something undesireable--like bermuda grass. I first became familiar with Ornamec 170 via my favorite wildflower seed company, Wildseed.

You do have to read the label very, very carefully and follow the directions precisely. Ornamec 170 only works if used precisely when they say to use it and in precisely the manner they describe.

You can use Round-up, but even with the use of Round-up, the bermuda will keep coming back. And you cannot spray Round-up over the top of a planted bed because it kills everything.

Bermuda grass will invade ANY and ALL bare soil, and will invade mulch as well. You HAVE TO be more aggressive than it is. Gardening in containers works to some extent, but bermuda grass will grow up into containers if it gets the chance. (At least when it invades containers, it is easy to pull out of the containers' loose soilless mix.)

Putting down a woven fabric landscape mulch, covering it with bark mulch AND aggressively going after every bit of bermuda that attempts to sprout on top of or underneath the cloth/mulch is what has given me the best success rate.

I'm also beginning to see some success with shading it out as the trees and shrubs mature.

There's no easy solution to bermuda grass. Oh, if only there were!

Good luck,


Here is a link that might be useful: Ornamec 170

    Bookmark   April 27, 2008 at 6:05PM
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barton(z6b OK)

Dawn I had to laugh about the landscape fabric. I tried that. The bermuda grew under and over and through it. Maybe if I had kept at the edge with roundup it might have worked. As it is, I had to put roundup on the whole landscape fabric/mulch area and I still can't get the fabric up; I will have to keep at it with the Roundup and wait till the bermuda roots totally rot.

If I could only get it to grow that well in the lawn.. Oh wait, that's still solid rock underneath..

    Bookmark   April 27, 2008 at 9:49PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

I have had landscape fabric that hasn't worked too, but it was the cheap kind. I bought it at Wal-Mart and it had a million little perforations that were supposed to let water and nuutrition through. I'm sure they did, but they also let bermuda grass and every weed around through too. Then I tried a kind of landscape fabric that was a sort of plastic-ey/papery kind, and it wasn't any better.

FINALLY, I bought some good woven landscape fabric. It cost more, but it was worth it. As long as I remove the bermuda before planting, and put at least 2 inches of mulch on top of the fabric, then I can keep the bermuda under control. Does it try to creep under the fabric? Yes. Does it try to grow over the top and root into the mulch. Yes. So, I STILL have to work aggressively to keep it out, but with the landscape fabric and mulch, at least I have a fighting chance. (And, with bermuda grass, a fighting chance is about as good as it gets.) LOL

If they send people into Outer Space and bring them safely home again, why can't they invent a way to successfully control bermuda grass?


    Bookmark   April 27, 2008 at 9:58PM
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Lisa_H OK(7)

There is an Ortho product that can be used in flowerbeds to kill bermuda. I believe it is called "Grass Be Gone" and the label should say "safe for landscape use." I saw some in Walmart this weekend. I used to be able to find it in Lowes, but I haven't seen it there in a couple of years. It's not a quick kill, it does take a while to affect the bermuda and the label does say it may take more than one application.

I use this in my garden, and I will testify to the fact that it does work. It is especially helpful in tight places (iris beds, for example!)

I'm not sure if it is labeled safe for a veggie bed.


    Bookmark   April 27, 2008 at 10:57PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

I think Grass-B-Gone is only labeled for use around ornamentals, shrubs, evergreens and groundcovers.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 7:40AM
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I try to kill bermuda in the late summer, while it is still growing. Doing it early enough to do at least two sprayings, you can get most of it killed (you need to do it early, to see if you got it killed, like before it goes dormant). Then over the winter I dig up the area and pull all bermuda grass roots out I can find.

Then, it is like Dawn said. I still have to dig some out here and there, till I guess, I REALLY got it all.

Takes the course of several years before I am happy with my beds, and "believe" they are bermuda free.

Meanwhile I do spray round up around the edge of all beds, two to three times a year to keep the bermuda at bay.

If you have bermuda growing in your beds now, use a shovel and turn over every square inch, and pull all visible roots out. Then, after planting your veggies or flowers, keep a close eye on the beds. Every time some grass pops up, dig there, and try to get ALL of the roots out.

Keep at it. Eventually you feel like you have the upper hand.


    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 8:10AM
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Well, like everyone above, I don't have an ultimate solution but may as well contribute what I do, which is cover the bed with a thick layer of cardboard and then lay various decomposable materials on top to serve as mulch and to feed the worms. This doesn't eliminate the bermuda entirely, but it's a little easier to pull once it makes its way through the layers. You can cut holes in the cardboard to plant what you want or add sand or some other planting medium on top to plant seeds. This is sheet composting/lasagna gardening.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 10:50AM
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We've had great luck with the Ornamec in the beds that where pure Bermuda 2 summers ago and that we just started landscaping last year. It's been a miracle worker where it's tried to pop-up in between the monkey grass that lines the majority of the beds, just spray right over and it gets the Bermuda and leaves the monkey grass alone. You have to have a bit of patience since it does take 1-3 weeks to work completely and you have to wait until the grass has a 4-8" runner before treatment.

The only thing that I had affected by it was a little bird's nest spruce, which didn't like the stuff at all and died. Other than that we didn't have anything else but the Bermuda affected. Oh, it is for non-crop beds only.

The only other things that we do are landscape fabric in the largest bed which is all shrubs, trees and perennials, lots and lots of mulch and then use the extended Round-Up along the fence lines.

We are not completely Bermuda free, but by treating it as we see it, I'm really really surprised by how little we have this year considering the size and amount of beds and the fact that they were pure Bermuda not 2 years ago. So far this year (fingers crossed) it has been so much less than what we fought last year.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 11:15AM
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sagenscotties(z7b Norman, OK)

Our garden has a 3ft wide "bed" around the edge of the entire garden (in the hopes of both having flowers around the outside AND defense against the grass). That grass is godawful stuff and I fight it every year. I have LONG since given up on "garden fabric and pins" I now have tarp...freakin' TARP (folded twice, sometimes 3 times over on itself) all along the outside with heavy bricks holding it down. "Attractive" was a word thrown out of my gardening vocab about 3 years ago. I always give the stink eye to those businesses that sell nothing but sod.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 1:34PM
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Thanks everyone -- It is so discouraging -- I wanted to do all raised beds, but we just couldnt get to building them this year we had other things that HAD to be done : ) I love to garden and in TX we had all raised beds, and I loved it because even though I had to get some bermuda out, it was easy and it pretty much stayed out -- here, the season is just barely getting going and already . . . (sigh)

I am going to try and lay cardboard down, also lots of paper (I like to recycle and we have lots of paper and moving boxes just waiting to be/do something).

Thanks again,

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 3:51PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


Hang in there. You know from experience that things WILL get better. And, honestly, all you have to do is "outwit, outlast and outplay" the bermuda grass....LOL

Of course, it is really rough the first couple of years, but persistence wins out.


    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 7:50PM
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Well, I have to tell you.....liriope is right up there with bermuda for me right now. In my raised bed, in which I put down cardboard box materials and lasagna gardened it - the liriope has still made it thru the cardboard! GRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!

I am constantly fighting the bermuda, though. And it seems I will ALWAYS be fighting it. It is the price I pay for letting things grow and not paying enuff attention to the bermuda that in some of my plants grows 3' to get to the sun!

Now, I am not going to dig out my lavendar just to get to that nasty bermuda vine! So I just cut and trim as I go.

Dawn - I bought some of the cheap landscape fabric, but I'm wondering if I can "double" it to make it work????? I'm thinking about the new bed I just put in.


    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 7:56PM
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