Weeds and unwanted plants in your garden or yard seem to grow prolifically while the things you want to grow, like flowers, are stagnant. The gardener’s fight against weeds is long and protracted. Bermuda grass is just one garden pest, but sometimes you have to go at one problem at a time. So, how do you stop Bermuda grass from growing where you don’t want it?
What Is Bermuda Grass?
Bermuda grass has its place, but it isn’t in the flower bed or the vegetable garden. In the dry, hot weather in the West, Bermuda grass grows exceptionally well and makes it a good choice for lawns since it is very resistant to drought.
The same physical attributes that make it fit for lawns makes it extremely difficult to remove from gardens and flower beds. It has a network of underground roots that spread out and hang on, and it also has stolons, which means it is a runner and as it grows along the surface, it periodically produces nodes and puts down roots there also, hanging on to the soil tenaciously.
If you decide to go the chemical route, what we do not recommend! You could use the harmful product Round-up, aka glyphosate, but Bermuda grass is persistent, so you must be persistent too. Spray on Round-up and remove the offending grass and wet soil to force any other remaining roots to spout, then repeat the procedure (you may have to do this more than once) to remove any new sprouts.
If you, like many others, do not care to use a chemical pesticide, there are some more eco-friendly methods, used even by the pros.
- Try stripping all the grass down to the soil in the area you want to get rid of Bermuda grass. Then, cover the area with layers of cardboard three deep, add a few inches of mulch and leave for six months. This prevents the grass from sprouting and leaves the area grass-free. It will come back, but this gives you a clean start. As an option, you can also use wet newspaper in place of cardboard, using 6 to 8 sheets.
- For shrubs and flower beds once the grass is stripped, use heavy professional landscape fabric and cut holes for plants with just enough room for the plant, and cover with mulch. Water only around the base of the plant, not allowing water to get to the Bermuda roots under the fabric. This method is best for permanent plantings.
- A third method uses a thick clear sheet of plastic in sunny locations during the summer to bake the grass to death. The key to this method is the sun and the heat. It won’t work in the shade or in a cooler place.
- A different twist on the plastic treatment is to allow the grass to brown, cut as close to the ground as possible, remove clippings, water, and cover with the plastic for up to six weeks.
Weeds are definitely the bane of the gardener’s existence, but it’s just one hurdle that must overcome in the pursuit of planted perfection.