Lasagna garden over bermuda (ok, it didnt work)

Nancy FryhoverMay 4, 2009

You guys tried to tell me! Heavy cardboard, thick composted manure, more compost...and i have lots of grass coming!

Hey, I am not afraid to admit...I WAS WRONG!!!!

I guess my next wacky plan is to put down black plastic when it gets hot....and then on to the chemicals if need be.

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I spent my morning digging out bermuda sprouts from my newly planted veggie garden. Those buggers sure are deep!
Very easy to dig out with all the rain we've had...

    Bookmark   May 4, 2009 at 8:33PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Bermuda grass is evil.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2009 at 8:41PM
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Best way is:

Spray with round up, when green and growing! Wait about 4 weeks, and spray again all that green that is coming back.

Now, dig out as much rootstuff as possible.

Then try lasagna, if you really want to do lasagna, and the following spring plant.

That should take care of it pretty well.

Good luck with what ever you try. I am working on eliminating that evil in my yard as well.


    Bookmark   May 4, 2009 at 11:29PM
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Lisa_H OK(7)

I did it successfully but my cardboard was large and very overlapped.

I also did another one, but it was in the fall and I used probably more than a 18" of woodchips over it, then I lasagna'd over that.

I don't know what you are growing, but the Grass Be Gone (safe for landscapes) stuff works fairly well on bermuda. It takes a while, but it does work.

Bermuda is evil!


    Bookmark   May 4, 2009 at 11:31PM
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I completely agree with what Californian's (and others I'm sure) call bermuda ... devil grass :-)

    Bookmark   May 5, 2009 at 4:02PM
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For my 12" deep raised garden bed, I

1. While everything was still dormant (early march), dug up as much grass as I could in a rectangle 2' wider on all sides than the bed. managed to pull up about 90-95%, leaving essentially bare dirt.

2. covered entire area with large sheets of thick cardboard, followed by the bed frame and 2-3" deep mulch covering the rest of the exposed cardboard.

3. filled raised bed approx. 9" deep with soil and started gardening.

The result: I have not had a single stem of bermudagrass in the bed proper, and at this point I don't expect to. some has been poking up through the outer fringes of the mulch, but it's a manageable amount. "someday" that whole area of the backyard will be stripped of grass as my garden expands, but that's a long-term project. Unfortunately...I have not had as much luck with controlling the bermudagrass in the ornamental bed out front that came with the house. I would rip the bed out and start over in much the same manner as the raised bed, but I want to keep most of the plants that are already established. I'm intrigued with the Grass Be Gone, but need to do some reading on it...

    Bookmark   May 6, 2009 at 5:49PM
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Last year I started the "conquest" of a new little chunk of land, off the the side of our main vegetable garden. I laid down cardboard and stuff we cleaned up from the barn. I even dropped about 2 1/2 feet of old hay over the spot. This year I'm planting winter squash in that spot. I know the Bermuda will be coming back. But the idea is that, with all that composting material, on top, I'll be able to weed it out more easily. I've done this in a couple of spots, but never before in one which had never before been worked. Compost and mulch seem to soften the soil, which makes the task of cultivating much easier.

Another thing which has worked well for me, is to plant corn where I'm trying to conquer Bermuda. The corn shades it, and for the next year there is a lot less of it to deal with. I love corn for this reason!


    Bookmark   May 7, 2009 at 6:57AM
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George, I love the idea of the corn. You inspired me to plant field corn from a different thread. I too am trying to open up new areas for planting. Trying to overcome Bermuda grass and the wet soil.
I wonder if a cover crop could be broadcast over a plot of ground that would smother out the devil grass. What about buckwheat or clover? Peg

    Bookmark   May 8, 2009 at 7:26AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Momfryhover, Plastic might work for you and it might not.

About 15 years ago my brother put down heavy-duty (I think it was 6 mm) black plastic over a recently rototilled ornamental bed. He had removed all the bermuda grass he could find, but knew it would come back, so he put down the plastic, cut holes through it, planted his shrubs and vines, and put a couple of inches of white marble rock chips on top of the plastic. Periodically grass would come up through the planting holes and he'd dig it out. After about five years, I was helping him redo his landscape and he pulled up that black plastic and still had huge bermuda runners everywhere. So, even though the black plastic kept the bermuda grass more or less under control, it didn't go away. Your results may be different than his.

Pegsol, It's a nice concept but if it worked, people would do it and would talk about and write about it all the time, and they just don't. The problem is that when heat arrives, the bermuda can outgrow everything else. I have clover and wildflowers mixed in with my bermuda. In the spring it seems like they have the upper hand, but then as the summer goes on, the bermuda outgrows everything and chokes out everything else.

Texas gardening guru Neil Sperry has said for years that even if you rototill and remove what you think is every single piece of bermuda grass, including roots and stolons, it will come back and completely regrow and carpet the ground within a few months if you leave as little as one 1/4" piece of stolon every yard or so. Grass that aggressive isn't going to be shaded out completely by any cover crop you interplant with it.

I think George's use of shading out the bermuda with corn works because corn gets so large and creates a great deal of shade.

One problem with buckwheat is that it is a cool season plant and bermuda is a warm season plant, so buckwheat could thrive early in spring with bermuda is still partially dormant, but the buckwheat will play out when the real heat arrives and the bermuda will win. Also, buckwheat needs well-drained soil in order to do well, so that's something you have to take into consideration as well. I think clover would perform about the same as buckwheat.

I agree with Moni that the best option is to spray with a herbicide, let some regrowth occur, and spray again. Even then you will have to dig out all that remains, especially the stolons. Then, you could build your lasagna bed, but as long as you have bermuda grass around, it will always try to grow back into places where you don't want it. So, like many of us, you'll have to fight it inch by inch and, eventually, you'll win, but it does require great vigilance.

In Fort Worth I planted plugs of St. Augustine right into our bermuda grass lawn and those plugs grew and spread and crowded out the bermuda in one season. It looked odd for a while, but as the St. Augustine areas got larger and the bermuda grass areas got smaller, the lawn just kept looking better and better. I haven't tried to do that here because we tend to get a smidgen too cold some winters for the St. Augustine. A neighbor of ours has lost his to very cold weather on several occasions, but I believe his is "Raleigh" and, if I planted it, I'd probably plant the more cold-hardy "Palmetto".

What has worked best for me is to shade it out long term by planting lots of trees and shrubs. In areas of heavy shade, the bermuda dies out. You cannot, of course, use this method to keep bermuda grass out of the veggie garden or flower beds where you are growing sun-loving plants.

When I build a lasagna bed I remove all the bermuda grass I can, but it still comes back from time to time over the years. You have to be as aggressive as it will keep trying to come back and you have to keep removing it. Keeping your beds heavily mulched helps, but bermuda will grow into mulch and root into it.

Most of my bermuda grass problems in the veggie garden are in the pathways where the grass creeps under the fence and into the pathways. It pretty much stays out of the raised beds because they are heavily mulched, but it tries to creep into the cottage border that surrounds my veggie garden. I have to dig it out of that border every year--I just dug some out on the east side of the garden the other day.

Bermuda grass will fight you for every square inch of sunny ground that you have, and you have to fight back just as aggressively.


    Bookmark   May 8, 2009 at 8:14AM
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I have found bermuda does not like wheat. In new ground I am trying buckwheat plots, wheat plots and plots containing both wheat and buckwheat.

Some beds are flush at grade and others are mounded. Building mounds (in clay loam) and cutting into the edges like you would for a flower bed to be mulched (about 6" deep) helps keep the bermuda from the walkways spreading to the bed.

Wheat only plots (level with grade or mounded): No bermuda sprouts.

Buckwheat plots (level with grade or mounded): Troublesome bermuda sprouts.

Buckwheat and wheat plots (Level with grade or mounded): Troublesome bermuda sprouts where wheat is not dense.

Maybe it's because corn and wheat are heavy feeders. I don't know, but I'm taking advantage!

The down side is that wheat and corn are heavy feeders and must be backed up with a nitrogen-fixer or dynamic accumulators. In some plots I will be planting local lambs quarters and dandelion and see how they might help as dynamic accumulators. But I will not be able to test the soil, but see how the next growth of cover or vegetables respond in comparison to those plots without dynamic accumulators.


    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 8:43PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


Lamb's quarters? Have you lost your mind, woman?

We had lamb's quarters growing here when we bought the place.

I have faithfully pulled out a billion little lamb's quarters seedlings in the 15+ years we've lived here. This year I've already pulled out tons of them. I try to watch for lamb's quarters plants in the pastures and pull them out when I see them or, if they are too big to pull, I cut them down and bag them so that if any seed has formed, it doesn't scatter in the wind.

Because lamb's quarters are so widespread here, seed blows in and comes in on rain runoff from the neighboring pastures on ground higher than ours, so I'll never be rid of lamb's quarters. I think my whole garden would be nothing but lamb's quarters if I didn't pull out every seedling I see sprout every single day.

I am truly horrified that you are contemplating planting them on purpose.

Do we need to do a garden intervention? I am thinking that friends don't let friends plant lamb's quarters without at least warning them that they are opening up Pandora's Box.

For the record, on our property and in my specific soil and climate, these are the most noxious weeds on our property, in order by how much I hate them, with #1 being the most hated: 1) bermuda grass, 2) Johnson grass, 3) lamb's quarters, 4) pigweed, 5) those blankety-blank little miniature wild cucumbers that sprout everywhere and climb everything. Even crab grass and dallisgrass are less annoying than the 5 items I listed.


    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 12:29AM
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LOL I happened to have all those others, too. I'll be pulling them before they go to seed. Because there's so much new disturbed soil, I have thousands of lambsquarter seedlings everywhere. They do have a great purpose in the soil.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 2:35AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

lol If you remember "Saturday Night Live" from the 1970s, all I could picture was Mr. Bill and Mr. Sluggo. You were Mr. Bill and were planting lamb's quarters and I was Mr. Sluggo and I was stomping all your seedlings to death while you said "Oh No!".

My dad grew lamb's quarters in the back corner of our yard right beside his compost pile, but he liked to eat them (as do many people) and harvested them constantly. I don't remember him ever letting them go to seed. He also grew poke weed on purpose and ate it too. During the Dust Bowl and depression years, you learned to eat those sorts of native plants that were edible and to appreciate having them too. He never could get me to eat enough of either of them for me to develop an appreciation of them.

Disturbed soil is full of surprises, and mostly unpleasant ones.

Sometimes when I rototill a new area, I get a pleasant surprise....once we got a native vine called hairy clustervine, but it flowered late and didn't have time to mature seed, and of course it didn't survive the winter. Another time we got showy milkweed. Most of the time, though, we get lambsquarters, pigweed....oh, and I forgot my all-time least-favorite vine, bindweed. If there is a more unpleasant combination of soil/plant than dense red clay/bindweed, I cannot imagine what it is. When those things sprout in my garden, I try to pull them the first day I see them, before they even can open up a true leaf. If I don't get all the root, they resprout in a couple of days.

Lambsquarters do have a great purpose in the soil, as do many weeds, and if you use them as dynamic accumulators they'll help improve your soil, as you know. However, if you ever let one of them go to seed, you'll rue the day!

One weed that I wanted and didn't have here was Devil's Claw. My dad loved it because it grew on their farm in Montague County, TX, when he was a kid in the 1920s and 1930s and the kids (they were poor and had no real toys) played with the seed pods, which somewhat resembled large mosquitoes. He'd bring home seed pods from his visits back to the old home place in the 1960s and 1970s and place them strategically around the house and then point out his "giant mosquitoes" to guests. In his gleeful mirth as the guests remarked on how they'd never seen mosquitoes that big, I could seea glimpse of the little boy who had to drop out of school in 3rd grade to help work the farmland---as a matter of survival, not for financial success. The little boy rarely showed up in him because he had to grow up much too early, but those silly Devil's Claw seedpods always did bring out the child in him. I suppose that's why I always smile when I see a Devil's Claw plant sprouting--it brings back a sweet memory of my long-deceased father. Who would think a weed could do that? Maybe someday your children will be talking about "mom and how she used those terrible lambsquarter plants to improve our garden soil".

In about our 2nd or 3rd year here, Fred brought me a trailer-load of cow manure from his barn. It was about half-decomposed. I used it as it was instead of waiting for it to fully decompose because our red clay was not yet very improved so it was like trying to grow stuff in concrete. The cow manure didn't really bring me any more weeds than I already had gained from disturbing the ground anyhow for the most part, but what it did bring me was Devil's Claw. I was so thrilled. That plant's descendants pop up every year now, and I pull most of them, but leave a couple so we can have giant mosquitoes of the non-biting type. I have since learned that Devil's Claw is a folk medicine (as are lots of other things we think of as weeds), so I am glad that it lives on in a corner of our garden.

Weeds are just plants in the wrong places where humans do not want them, but lambsquarters is on my personal hit list of plants I do not want anywhere (and so, of course, we have them everywhere).

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 9:10AM
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I'm constantly working now, but with limitations. I come in, occasionally, and read up on the posts and facebook and news and whatnot. But, sometimes, I'm just creeped out by the parallels. Ya'll must have a satellite feed to my back yard. I just came back in from foraging. Oh how I love spring. I'm the weird type that likes to sit in the soil and weed for as long as my body will tolerate. And when I take a break, all I can think about is getting out there for some more. And darn it, those kids must eat, huh?

But this morning I let the kids sleep in late because we're off schedule from last weeks holidays and I don't have their homework ready. So, I had finished hilling the potatoes. I'm was at my physical limitations right then, but continue because I dearly love foraging for the rabbits. I love the look of sublime pleasure when they get their dock, dandelion and wild lettuce. And this morning was a rare treat with such beautiful moisture coating everything. I have not had to fill their water bottle in several days. We have so much wind, this moisture is rare. And this morning I understood their pleasure. I couldn't resist snagging a dew-soaked spinach leaf for breakfast.

So, then, I'm crawling along the fence line on all fours. Looking for bunny food. I'm pulling the bind weed seedlings along the fence at the same time. It gives me an excuse to got at a slow pace. With the basket nearby I'm certain the neighbour knows I'm picking bunny food. Right? Then I see it. The bind weed has begun rising beneath the ploughed garden area three feet from the fence. I've never seen such bindweed. I covered the logistics in my head and no where near ready to attend to that section of the garden. I began imagining a forest of bindweed. Well, it has pretty flowers, but those crappy small white ones and what the heck am I thinking? It's bindweed! My next thoughts were on how to manipulate others to pull it for me when I reached over to grab some of it. It came into full view. It was ENDLESS. A hundred feet or more of the most righteously bindweed I've ever seen. My mind gave up.

Then there were the lambs quarters on the same edge of the disturbed soil. Thousands of lambs quarter seedlings stretched that same area.

The knees of my sweat pants are soaked and I've a hole in the crotch that exposes my green shorts. My movement is clumsy because my lower back is screaming. There's nothing graceful going on. As I'm looking at the lambs quarters I think of your post about garden intervention and imagine members showing up and seeing me this way, much less my neighbours as I crawl amongst the lambs quarters. And you are there standing nearby with your arms folded and your face stern about the invasion of the lambs quarters. It hurts but I cannot stifle the laughter. The noise that comes out is some type of weird coo because I'm in a strange position and must hold my head stiff because of its plate. I'm a crazy woman crawling around the yard inspecting weeds on all fours in wet prairie land with my hands caked with mud from hilling potatoes and grasping bindweed thinking of imaginary people standing nearby. And I'm making this cooing sound.

I had to fall over onto my side so I could laugh out loud. Wanting to be in the middle of the joy my dog came over and played with me. That's it. I was just playing with the dog.....

My rabbits are going to be eating a lot of lambs quarters. Too bad they cannot eat the bindweed.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 10:39AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Your description of you crawling around on your knees pulling weeds sound perfectly normal to me. In fact, it sounds like me. lol. We are two of a kind except I don't have back problems. The aches and pains I have merely are from overdoing it in the garden.

At the end of a good day in spring, I am like the Peanuts cartoon character "Pigpen", walking into the house with a cloud of dirt, dust, weed seedlings, etc., flying off of me as I walk. It never fails that when I take off my shoes and socks after coming in, I look at my arms and legs and say "I got a suntan today". Then, I take a shower and wash away the dirt, and there goes my perceived suntan.

In some places, bindweed perennializes and has great spreading mats of roots underground. People who have it like that never really get rid of it. That is one reason I am careful to remove every bit that sprouts in spring.

I do, by the way, inevitably lose part of the bindweed battle every year. Because I use my 8' tall anti-deer fences around the garden as trellises, there's always someplace that the bindweed sneaks in among the pole beans, cucumbers, melons, pumpkin, summer squash and gourd vines, and all the ornamental vines I grow (generally some morning glories, hyacinth bean vine, moonvine, cardinal climber, cypress vine and black-eyed susan vine) and at some point in the fall, I realize there is blooming bindweed mixed in with all the desirable vines. Normally it happens after some combination of venomous snakes, extreme heat and wildfires have conspired to keep me mostly out of the garden. When my garden time is limited, I run out to the garden, harvest, yank the nearest weeds, see a snake, scream, run into the house with my harvest basket full of produce and then don't step foot into the garden again for a couple of days....and that is when the bindweed starts winning the current year's war. I generally win the bindweed war in March through late July. Then, the bindweed gains the upper hand from late July through September. In the fall, I start yanking it out and trying to remove every bit I find. I always think I am winning at that point, until a million bindweed seeds sprout the following spring.

If someone could find a useful purpose for bindweed, you and I could become bindweed billionaires.

I am in and out all day too. I find that with regular rest breaks, I can work virtually from sunup to sunset even in pretty high temperatures. When I was in my 30s and early 40s, I could work all that time without even taking a break, but now in my mid-50s, I have to work at a slower, more deliberate pace so I don't totally wear myself out.

When I come inside at sunset too tired to (a) eat, (b) watch TV or (c) log onto the computer, that's when I know I had a really good, albeit exhausting, day in the yard and garden.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 11:44AM
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Bindweed billionaires! Sounds like a lotto ticket. ROFL I love it. all.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 12:18PM
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I was minding my own business this weekend in the garden, and a fight broke out between me and the Bermuda. Twice.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 11:19PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Charles, Who won the fight?


    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 11:42PM
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You Pros have all the fun. My daughter told me I was so hard to buy for, and she would like for me to give her a hint of what she could buy me for Fathers Day. I told her a that I would like a small package of Bermuda grass seed to plant in my garden. She told me that she would buy me some gloves instead, and I could come over to her house and dig all the Bermuda I wanted out of her flower bed. I have such sweet kids.


    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 10:19AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


Your sense of humor is so wonderful. You make me smile every day when I read your posts. Thanks for being a day brightener.

You have terrific kids (and grandkids). Be sure to share the joy by teaching all the grandkids how to dig bermuda grass out of your daughter's garden too.


    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 10:52AM
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Very perceptive. You noticed that I didn't mention who won. Before I read this post I would have declared myself the victor in both cases. But now I have a gnawing fear that the bermuda is just toying with me.


    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 11:22AM
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haha Larry!

Charles, it is. There are billions of little bermuda sprouts beneath your hard work.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 11:32AM
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Bon, so the bermuda *was* toying with me all along? Well, I knew it was tenacious, but I didn't know it was cruel.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 7:02PM
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AmyinOwasso/zone 6b(6b)

I just found this thread. I wondered what results Bon had with the varipus plots. I know we talked about wheat vs bindweed on another thread. I have 2 new 8 x 4 beds to put down soon and I must get some cardboard. We have been making raised beds with weed blocking fabric that really isn't stopping the grass. It would definitely help to go out a couple of feet from the bed with it.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 6:01PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

I'm thinking that gardening here would have been a lot easier if only we had poured a concrete slab first and then built raised beds atop the concrete slab. We might have had bermuda grass sprout in the raised beds, but at least it couldn't have also popped up in the pathways.

Bermuda grass is evil and I hate it. Also on the hate list? Lambsquarters, Johnson grass, any and all wild amaranths but especially Palmer's amaranth, wild carrots, wild bidens, crab grass, greenbrier and poison ivy. Other than that, I love practically everything else that grows here.

This actually is my best bermuda grass year in a very long time. I worked long and hard this year to try to keep it out of the garden. Was I 100% successful? Heck no, but I think I can say I was 95% successful and I'd been working hard to dig out and get rid of any that sprouts or creeps into the garden. I put down a commercial grade of landscape fabric in every pathway but one and covered it with a 4" thick layer of mulch. Prior to putting down the fabric, I rototilled each path and raked out all the weeds and plant roots I could find. The one path that didn't get the landscape fabric was the control path for comparison. Within 2 weeks, I had bermuda grass and other weeds sprouting in the control bed and have been fighting them there ever since. In the pathways where I put the landscape fabric, occasionally something sprouts in the mulch, but I always pull it out, no matter what it is, before the roots can grow down through the landscape fabric. When you use landscape fabric, you have to use a heavy, woven one that does NOT have those little holes punched in it to allow water (lol, and weed seeds and everything else) to flow through the fabric. You have to have the ground clean and bare when you put the fabric down and immediately put down a thick layer of mulch so it is so dark that nothing can sprout beneath the fabric and grow upward. And, you have to pull out every single weed that sprouts in the mulch the very moment you first spot it. Using all the above techniques keeps my garden pathways clear, clean and weed-free, but I have to be very persistent about keeping the weeds out. If you let weeds grow up through the landscape fabric from underneath it or grow down through it from above, you'll have a big mess that is almost impossible to clean out. Finding the right landscape fabric is important. I was really stupid our first year here and bought the one sold at Sam's and Wal-mart (still sold there all these years later too) that has all those millions of little pre-punched holes in it that are supposed to let water through. Well, weeds and grass grew up through every little hole. It was the biggest mess I'd ever seen. Then I found a really heavy-duty one at CostCo. I buy it on rolls that are about 220' or 230' long and 4' wide. It is woven and tough---the bottom is almost like felt. As long as I am careful to install it as described above, it reduces my weed-pulling time to almost nothing. I would love to find the same fabric 8' wide. If I did, I'd put it on all sides of the garden outside the garden fence and cover it with gravel....and dare the bermuda grass to find a way to get under, over or through that and creep into the garden. It would be a perfect solution.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 6:39PM
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AmyinOwasso/zone 6b(6b)

Currently we don't have paths. The beds are far enough apart to mow between, because that is what DH wanted, but I think they are going to have to become non grass. The thing is, I am trying to design it for accessability as we get older. I was in a wheelchair for 3 years. You can't roll a wheelchair around over woodchips or straw. I hope I will never be in that situation again, but I can't get down on my knees and I get vertigo if I bend at the waist too long. Eventually I want tall raised beds, with paved or otherwise solid paths. I can't bring myself to spend that much money on PATHS at this point, but I can dream.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 7:37PM
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Amy, I'm sorry you were in a wheel chair. *hugs* I haven't gotten there in any permanent fashion, but .... dunno. I keep putting off my lumber MRI.

It'll be interesting to see what each of us comes up with.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 8:29PM
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AmyinOwasso/zone 6b(6b)

Bon, I have 2 artificial hips and an artificial knee. It was a long haul, but I can walk and am mostly wIthout pain. I have arthritis, I will continue to have some problems, but hopefully nothing like before. Backs are tough. I hope things workout for you, too.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 9:31PM
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