I hate Bermuda grass. You dig it out, it’s back within a season. You spray it with herbicide, you just slow it down. Try to smother it (a la lasagna gardening), it laughs at you. This grass is considered an invasive species. Read more about it here: http://www.texasinvasives.org/plant_database/detail.php?symbol=CYDA What I really dislike about it is it never looks good (not to mention the whole family is allergic to it, including our dog.) This is the grass used in golf courses. For a golf course to look nice, it needs serious attention. Massive amounts of fertilizer and insecticides make living next to a golf course a chemical nightmare. You can’t kill Bermuda, so that’s a plus if you have drought, but you also can’t control it. Despite my attempts to keep it out of my flower beds I still have to aggressively pull it each season. This means eventually all things succumb to the grass. I won’t be able to keep up with it when I am at the age where I am only able to just putter around in the yard. Everything I am doing will eventually be erased or choked by this grass. That’s the bad news. The good news is you can create boundaries, you just have to police them and think ahead. Realize the way this grass grows: by seed, by stolon, by rhizome. It will have the upper hand if you don’t seal off your beds.
When we moved into this home the entire back yard was nothing but grass. That actually was a selling point. I wanted a clean slate that I could personalize to my taste. If it doesn’t feed something (either me, pollinators or predatory insects) I’m probably not going to be interested. Unfortunately, the blank slate was Bermuda. I have tried several times to rid areas of this grass and it has come back and created problems every time. So, I beat it by creating a sealed container of soil. I call it my: “Landscape Fabric Sandwich”.
1 year landscape fabric dissolves over a season. It is pretty worthless at long term answers but perfect at providing a temporary barrier to Bermuda grass. I needed something I knew the grass wouldn’t be able to sprout through but also something that was not going to present a long term barrier to future plant’s root depth. This was my solution.
Most of my solutions to Bermuda start with a good dose of Round-Up. My husband usually does this because I am a weinie when it comes to spraying. I have enough health problems, I don’t need to add herbicide sensitivity to them. This picture is from a tree hole we dug. But it’s the basics: spray thoroughly, wait three days and see how it looks, if you missed anything go back over it. Spray the whole area again within a week. (I’m sorry to all of you who want to deal with Bermuda in a green and natural way. If it’s possible, I haven’t been able to figure out how. Good luck with your attempts and let me know if you ever do it. I am also working with about an inch of soil over hardpan. You need a pick axe to get through it.) The next thing I did was have my husband weed eat it to the bare ground. This keeps the grass from poking through the cheap landscape fabric. This fabric will tear and blow through your yard if you put it down and leave it, so expect to finish the bed the day you lay the first layer.
I placed the landscape fabric down in overlapping layers and tucked it under the fence with a hand shovel. Then I put a layer of packing paper down.
Bermuda will grow under landscape fabric. Without a solid light blocking layer, it will come right back. I wet this as I went.
Next I put a layer of hay down. I use hay a lot. It is REALLY good at retaining water, you just have to get it wet before you cover it. It takes a lot to wet leaves of hay from a bale. They are packed so tightly that they are water resistant. Step on them as you water them and they will absorb the water like a squeezed sponge. Next I put the soil down. For this project I was light on soil. It was also in the upper 90’s and at this point I didn’t care. I should have used double the soil, but it will still break down fine over the next year. Because I didn’t have enough soil, I will need to wait to plant this bed. It just dries out too fast right now.
Soil in place. (But, this isn’t a sandwich yet!) Because Bermuda also grows from seed I cover every bed I clean up with a good quality landscape fabric and mulch. This will be much thicker fabric (and unfortunately, more expensive) than the 1 year fabric. While it took three passes to fill this area with the 1 year fabric, it took 1 and a half with the heavier fabric. I tucked it under the fence again, rolled up the edges of the fabric underneath and pinned it together with landscape fabric pins. There is no opening for the Bermuda grass to get into the soil in this bed. My husband will run the edger to cut a trough and we will insert a permanent rubber barrier. Ha ha Bermuda! Take that! I may have already ceded the war, but this battle is mine!
Two months later: zero Bermuda.
For once, I have triumphed over the scourge of the backyard.
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