Raised Bed Idea...Need feedback

rjingaMarch 8, 2009

I have an area that is about 30 ft x 40 ft. Last fall I covered most of this area with OM (lasagne style) and come spring the ground was really nice, didnt have to til it, and full of worms etc. I planted a whole bunch of tomatoes.

Weeds(burmuda grass) got away from me and became an issue, recently I tilled the area with a big heavy duty tiller to remove the grass roots as best as I could.

I'd like to attempt to build some kind of informal, raised beds here using landscape timbers to frame out the planting areas, so they would not at the usual height (instead just the depth of the timbers), I'm thinking something much more shallow will work being that the lower soil area is very healthy and rich. My main objective with this idea is to create a weed barrier with the material (newspaper, peat, compost, etc) that I will place inside the timbers on the surface of the soil and at the same time have enough depth to plant into.

I'd appreciate any feedback. and any other ideas, suggestion would be greatly appreciated.

PS: this is still up for debate, but I will most likely be planting peppers, okra, beans, squash, turnip and corn in this area.

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garycinchicago(Z5 Chicago IL.)

I'm the bearer of bad news.

Bermuda grass, AKA "Devil's Weed", is the most evasive grass known to man because it has both rhizomes and stolon shoots, above and below the soils surface. Tilling will sometimes make it come in stronger for years to come. Evidence is bermuda is routinely "groomed" by grounds keepers where they cut the stolons using a power rake with flail blades.

The most effective way to eradicate bermuda is very expensive. Fumigate with Dazomet.

Or when the bermuda is actively growing (July) apply glyphosate (Round Up) and fallow the area for 2 weeks, trying to induce any further growth, then reapply glyphosate again. Follow up with clear plastic to solarize the area for another month or three, and then just maybe, you'll be bermuda free.


    Bookmark   March 8, 2009 at 11:00AM
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I agree with Gary about everything except the espensive fumigation and glyco part. I just solarize for a few months and it gets it all. You have to follow the solarizing steps diligently, making sure the area is moist underneath and that all edges are tucked/sealed to prevent heat loss. Sometimes it takes a bit longer than recommended, but not always. And it'd be a good idea to put an in-ground barrier around your garden once you solarize to keep it from creeping back in. Metal flashing buried vertically works great. Even then though you'll have to be dilligent about seedlings ~ seeds will still blow in and take root, but they're so much easier to eliminate than fully rooted clumps.

The other day, I heard a tv gardening show guy saying that you could use two layers of plastic with something between them to hold them apart, making an insulated air space to help hold in more heat. He said that would work in a matter of days. I plan to try that out this year.

I've heard a couple people say that making a weed barrier like you said works, but only if it's thick enough, using lots of cardboard. I've never done that, but have built a 12" tall bed on top of some bermuda I scraped and it didn't work. After years of fighting it, pulling it all season long, I dismantled the bed to find stolons/rhizomes still growing at the original ground level and sending up shoots.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2009 at 12:12PM
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Dan Staley

Yes, I had a classmate in undergrad do a term paper on Bermudagrass & I edited it for her, it is the devil's plant and most amazing in bad way for gardeners.

Having owned a landscape design/construction business in CA and having it in my 1/4-acre yard, Bermuda removal was a major part of my activity. One client had a root go under their slab into the bedroom thru a crack and under the carpet padding before dying - 15 feet if it was an inch.

Rototilling was the worst thing you could do. You must solarize with plastic AND Roundup, IMO, 2 layers of plastic will work better, but for that size you'll need bricks to separate them and the top layer will flop and tear if not held down.

Your in-ground barrier must be at least12" otherwise you are wasting your time. Deeper the better. And use something substantial that won't break down, like 3-4 layers of landscape fabric securely in place, and while you're at it put a product in between 2 layers like Preen or other preemergent.

Seriously. You cannot expend too much energy to keep this plant away.


    Bookmark   March 8, 2009 at 2:08PM
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garycinchicago(Z5 Chicago IL.)

Here is some advice from a sod farmer in Texas

>Well I know you and you will not like my answer, but here is a TX sod Farmer's secret Wait till the grass is actively growing and apply two applications of Round-Up one week apart, then cover the entire area with plastic and solarize the area until you reach a temperature of 140 degrees to a depth of 8 or more inches, about 4 to 6 weeks of good hot TX summer sun.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2009 at 2:33PM
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Dan Staley

I think the key to this thread is what Gary said upthread:

and then just maybe, you'll be bermuda free.

Keep this in mind. This plant has an amaaaaazing ability to persevere.


    Bookmark   March 8, 2009 at 3:28PM
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