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destroying bermuda/crab grass

 
Aaron McCarty
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new to the forum. I'm sure this has been discussed ad naseum here, but I couldn't find it.

I've tried sheet mulching with cardboard to kill the bermuda to no avail. The roots outlive the cardboard and shoots emerge.

My plan now is to lay down clear plastic to solraize and surround the growing areas with landscape fabric with mulch on top. Is this the best way to beat back the onslaught of bermuda? Any better ideas? I can't grow anything without the crab grass moving in. It even attacks my compost piles. I have a pile of cypress mulch with grass growing in it. It's very frustrating.
 
Leila Rich
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Welcome to permies Aaron
Hopefully someone familiar with this grass will help, but if it's like the hardcore running grasses I'm familiar with, I imagine you have a battle on your hands!
I will recommend keeping away from landscape fabric; I hate the stuff, and most running grasses will just laugh at it.
 
Aaron McCarty
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I'd prefer not to use it either. Maybe I could just solarize large swathes and then boarder growing areas with green manures like clover, vetch, comfrey? On another thread here I fond after I posted this I came to the conclusion that I'd just focus on planting fruit trees and perennial next season and just let the trees choke out the grass. Plus I'm going to integrate some hugelkulture beds...but my plan is still up in the air. What I do know is that I've got to get rid of this grass somehow (pretty sure it's bermuda...but I've always called it crab grass, it's rhizomous and it sucks). I've got several compost piles that are ate up with it now as are my beds.

This last season was the first time I've tried growing here. It's compacted clay with grass and some hardy weeds growing. I tilled in horse poo with a walk behind tiller and planted. Annuals grew great but the grass slowly dominated. It's relentless. I'm not trying to fight crab grass which is why I'm willing to resort to land scape fabric...whatever works at this point. Plus I have a lot of it and my tiller is broken (it's old and I had to have it worked on 3 times last summer). So question is, if you're not going to till, and your not going to use landscape fabric, than how are you going to garden in grass short of digging it all out and losing all of that soil. Then you either have to find a way to make a lot of your own soil, or buy it, and you never know what you are going to get when you import soil/compost from elsewhere. It's a lot of catch 22's. I just want to grow food, not grass. I'd love to integrate goats, but that's not going to happen. I've got chickens, but after a full season this grass is still growing in parts of their run. I thought about digging infiltration swales around the beds and filling with mulch, but as I have said I've got a cypress mulch pile with this stuff thriving in it.

So I agree landscape fabric sucks, as does tilling, but both are better than nothing. I'll probably end up doing some combination of all of the above.
 
edwin lake
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Aaron McCarty wrote:I'd prefer not to use it either. Maybe I could just solarize large swathes and then boarder growing areas with green manures like clover, vetch, comfrey? On another thread here I fond after I posted this I came to the conclusion that I'd just focus on planting fruit trees and perennial next season and just let the trees choke out the grass. Plus I'm going to integrate some hugelkulture beds...but my plan is still up in the air. What I do know is that I've got to get rid of this grass somehow (pretty sure it's bermuda...but I've always called it crab grass, it's rhizomous and it sucks). I've got several compost piles that are ate up with it now as are my beds.

This last season was the first time I've tried growing here. It's compacted clay with grass and some hardy weeds growing. I tilled in horse poo with a walk behind tiller and planted. Annuals grew great but the grass slowly dominated. It's relentless. I'm not trying to fight crab grass which is why I'm willing to resort to land scape fabric...whatever works at this point. Plus I have a lot of it and my tiller is broken (it's old and I had to have it worked on 3 times last summer). So question is, if you're not going to till, and your not going to use landscape fabric, than how are you going to garden in grass short of digging it all out and losing all of that soil. Then you either have to find a way to make a lot of your own soil, or buy it, and you never know what you are going to get when you import soil/compost from elsewhere. It's a lot of catch 22's. I just want to grow food, not grass. I'd love to integrate goats, but that's not going to happen. I've got chickens, but after a full season this grass is still growing in parts of their run. I thought about digging infiltration swales around the beds and filling with mulch, but as I have said I've got a cypress mulch pile with this stuff thriving in it.

So I agree landscape fabric sucks, as does tilling, but both are better than nothing. I'll probably end up doing some combination of all of the above.


Hello Aaron. I live in western NC near Tryon and have the clay soil. I also have a lot of Bermuda. It is not clumpy like crab grass. The blades are thinner. The rhyzomes you described sound like Bermuda, also known as "wire grass" because when you pull it out of the soil, it feels like you're pulling a wire.

When I moved to my property, I put my garden in where the owner before kept her hog. I did till up the area because it was compacted pretty tightly. That was before I realized that "if you till it, you kill it." I now suspect that I may have chopped up some of the bermuda rhyzomes and facilitated its recovery into the garden. Else, it just expanded rapidly from my bermuda infested grass around the pen.

This year, I covered up the entire garden area (except for my winter raised beds) with cardboard. I put 9 month old horse manure compost on the cardboard. I have now covered everthing up with about 9 inches or so of wood chip mulch. I plan on throwing down more of the horse compost and chopped up leaves on it this fall. I read if you can bury the rhyzomes deep enough, they cannot get the oxygen needed to emerge.

For other areas I plan to develop, I will try to enclose my chickens in with the grass and see if they are interested in eating it. So far my free rangingn chickens have not indicated any interest in bermuda. It is is not a nutritious grass like crab grass, which is pretty good for horses. Maybe Bermuda is not nutritious to the chickens either. But if their forage is limited in a confined space, I hope they will dig down and eat the bermuda rhyzomes. Then, I am going to plant clover, peas, black locusts, blueberries, apples, etc. Anyway, I am interested in this topic because I have the same doggone problem with the bermuda.
 
Aaron McCarty
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yep, definitely bermuda is what I have. After a while I'll put gloves on because it starts tearing my hands up when I start with that evil grass. I swear the secret to immortality can be found in bermuda. Thanks for the explanation on the difference...I never knew that. Crab grass is benign compared to Bermuda.

I hope the cardboard works out for you. I'm still on the fence with it myself. I have some success and some failures. Only one true success actually. My humanure pile. When I started the pile I did so where an old compost pile had been. I left a couple inches of the old compost and covered it with a couple layers of cardboard and began with the humanure operation. That was around June. So far no Bermuda has infiltrated...so far. Another application of carboard sheet mulch was for a willow tree that I transplanted. Once I had the tree in the ground I put cardboard all around it in about a four foot radius. Crab grass began infiltrating this fall. It's those dang runners man. I had a runner go about five feet up behind the siding of my garage. Like I said, that grass is relentless.

I'm gonna try solarizing a few of my beds with clear plastic from now until spring, and I think I'll plant some cover crops come spring and start working on slowly beating it back. I know solarizing kills it to, but I think it's worth it if I'm going to make it my job to recover it. I don't know about Bermuda, but I know with bamboo you need a 26 inch deep rhizome barrier. I know that Bermuda that was under the willow tree sheet mulch was beneath three layers of card board and six inches of cypress mulch and it grew straight up and through it all.
 
Leila Rich
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Aaron, I have a rather pragmatic attitude toward most things, and I loathe landscape fabric because, in my opinion, it just doesn't work!
Trying to pull it up from under happy running grasses really sucks
I'd keep the Bermuda away from young trees with regular mulching; mature trees can handle grass, but I don't think they will kill it.
Are your various piles etc close together? I ask because if I had to battle such a foe, at least I'd want my metaphorical wagons circled...
BTW, old nylon carpet placed upside-down works well as a permanent weed barrier: it can be swept off with a stiff broom to stop plants germinating on top of it.
I think one of landscape fabric's problems is it usually lets the light though and is reasonably easy to tear, allowing rhizomes trough.
I wouldn't ever recommend putting an inorganic material around trees though: I've had some sad times trying to release trees that have grown bigger than the space left for them by plastic carpet backing.
Old wool carpet without the plastic backing is a fabulous mulch, although it breaks down very fast.
Often very old carpets come with jute underlay. Great stuff.
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
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Aaron are you in the Carolinas or surrounding area?

I like to trench around planting areas. I pull out by hand (painful at best) and / or heavily mulch with newspaper the areas that I am planting. The trenched areas are so I can see the incoming runners and keep them pulled or ripped out with a hoe before the go into the planting area.

Raised beds with out a trench around the outside are the worst in my opinion - the runners get in there and just fill up the bed.

I'm afraid there isn't an easy answer on this one.
 
Leila Rich
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Aaron, you might find this link interesting; just ignore the herbicide talk gardenweb thread
 
Aaron McCarty
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Jeanine, are you in SC?!!! I thought I was the only one in this state that knew what permaculture is. You mean there are others? Where are they?

Leila, on a couple of the permaculture job's I've done I've had to contend with landscape fabric. It sucks, but it's no match for my mattock "axcalibur." It's always a couple of inches under great top soil all pointless like as well. I've considered using it out of desperation, and because my wife brought home three rolls of it. I might just experiment with it, maybe roll it out into an area of grass, weight it down, and leave it for a while to see what happens.

Apparently this is just about the crappiest condition one could attempt to grow growies in, compost, or just practice permaculture in general. I wish I had some help with this, as in people, in my community, that would be willing to help. It gets overwhelming trying to relearn the old agriculture, pre-petroleum, by yourself. Luckily (i guess) I'm only an hour and fifteen minutes by personal transport vehicle to Asheville NC, a beacon of permaculture in a society gone made with petroleum sugar. But this thread was about Bermuda grass....maybe I should start a new thread in the community section.
 
Austin Max
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Location: South Central Kentucky
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If you can figure out a good way to get rid of bermuda grass there is a crowd of southern gardeners who would probably give you a medal.

I did read somewhere recently of a determined archaeologist who dug out her entire lawn and sifted every bit through screen to remove all the rhizomes.
 
Richard Nurac
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Location: north Georgia
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If the area you are working on is not overly large, the best is just to pull it out. I did that recently on a 100ft by 10ft area. Waited for rain to soften the ground so when I pulled, the whole grass stem came out. It took a while and every few days I go back and look for the tell tale sign of a piece I missed. I used a long spike weeder to loosen up the grass before pulling. Especially required for the anchors - the horizontal growth comes up much more easily. Also important to secure your borders to prevent infiltration. You can look at my 9/11 and 9/21 posts on my website for a more detailed account.
 
Shelly Randall
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Location: Central Valley California
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I have given up going aggressive against bermuda. I'm tired of giving it the evil eye when I pass by, imagining the hours of work it is costing me. I may be even the only one who sees some virtue in this otherwise arch enemy of gardeners. For example, during the hot, dry summers of the Central Valley, California, bermuda becomes a protective mat, locking in moisture. Our tiny front lawn of solid bermuda was moist all year round while just an inch next to it was dry as a bone at the end of the season in September. For this reason, I planted some new bushes, currant and rose, in the lawn to keep them alive through the summer. It will be interesting to find out what their long term health will become.

Another example is the flower bed next to the house. When we first moved in, I did the intensive, thorough weeding to get the mat out that had spilled over from the lawn, but after I planted some catnip in there, it all but smothered it, at least where the catnip is located. Nothing, I mean nothing grows above the catnip. It's a soft, velvet blanket.

So, my new philosophy with bermuda is to use it if you can, and smother it with an "umbrella" plant if you can't. I'm tired of fighting bermuda.
 
Alder Burns
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I've posted about bermuda elsewhere on this site and others, based on my 20+ years learning to live with it in Georgia (and now I have it here again in CA, though it is not so aggressive in the dry summers). We tried just about everything....tilling weekly for a whole summer, hand digging, penning hogs and chickens on it for entire seasons, solarization, and sheetmulching....nothing works as a permanent solution except to dig out the entire soil volume to 12-18 inches down and sift it through a piece of hardware cloth and then put edging around the area. That worked for a very small --say 10 foot circle-- flower garden. A very dense planting of something else vigorous, say cannas for instance, can subdue it somewhat and also act as an underground barrier to the rhizomes....the problem there is that the cannas can become pretty aggressive themselves.
The only thing that worked for annual vegetables was yearly cardboard and paper mulch....either preceded by tilling, and applying the paper around the seedlings and over the sprouting grass, or covering the entire area and transplanting vigorous transplants through holes punched into it. The bermuda will find a way through....whether right next to the plants, or elsewhere, but you will usually make a crop anyway because the delay caused by the mulch gives your plants a headstart.
Committing entire areas to heavy mulch of cardboard or carpets is a good strategy too....plant the next season or even the next year...
Interesting that someone mentioned it being the secret of immortality....apparently bermuda is a valued Ayurvedic medicinal....
 
Mike Turner
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Another permaculturist living in SC. Bermuda grass is an amazing survivor. You can pile several feet of soil on top of it or tile square hay bales over it and it will just grow up through the soil or hay and start growing on top of the new raised surface. You can dig out the bed in the winter trying to pull out every bermuda grass rhizome and it will still pop up the following summer. The only thing I have found to control bermuda grass is to grow another plant on its location that can out compete and weaken it . The best I've found for this in the vegetable or annual garden bed is sweet potato, which loves the same hot weather the bermuda thrives in and it quickly covers the ground with a mat of large leaves that swamps out the bermuda's growth and by the end of the summer leaves bermuda grass in a highly weakened state. In my vegetable garden, I grow sweet potatoes in any beds where the bermuda looks to be gaining the upper hand, then will double dig the bed that winter to try to fish out any surviving rhizomes. Jerusalem artichokes will also out compete bermuda grass, but is a formidable conqueror/invader of vegetable beds itself. A case of the cure being almost as bad as the disease but at least in this case the cure is ornamental and edible.
 
Aaron McCarty
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Mike Turner...another permaculturalists living in SC? Does that mean you live in SC...or know others on this forum that do?

Funny you stated what you did about sweet potatoes. I did the same this year...just growing them, and the bed they grew in definitely choked out the bermuda...most of it, but I didn't realize this tactic as one to kill bermuda until you stated it. Guess I wasn't thinking about killing bermuda at the time.
 
Mike Turner
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I'm in upstate SC near Greenwood. Sweet potato won't completely kill out bermuda grass over the course of one summer, but it does greatly weaken it. Perhaps if you grew sweet potato for more than one season on the same ground, it might completely kill out the bermuda. But I like to keep rotating my crops through the various beds, so I haven't tried multiple years of sweet potato in the same bed. Also using the old sweet potato vines/leaves as mulch on the bed in the following year seems to help depress bermuda regrowth. You can never totally get rid of bermuda grass in your vegetable garden, if nothing else, dormant seeds in the soil bank and brought in on hay or on your shoes from the surrounding pastures will provide a continuing source on new bermuda seedlings. So you just have to manage it using sweet potato to knock it back in beds where it is threatening to gain the upper hand. Also, I've noticed that other grasses provide good competition for bermuda if left in place. If you relentlessly try to weed out all of the grasses in the bed, you'll end up successfully removing all of the relatively easy to pull/dig fescue, bahia, crab, and other grasses, leaving the bermuda fragments to go hog wild in the absence of other grass competition. So during the bermuda growing season, in locations where they aren't competing with crop plants, I'll leave the other grasses and weeds in place or cut back regularly with their roots left in place to provide competition for the bermuda.
 
Hanley Kale-Grinder
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It sounds like a switch to perennials is the answer...
 
Anthony Davis
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I did the following in an open area of Bermuda grass that I wanted to convert to garden beds. It took time and diligence, but it was successful. I did this over the course of the summer, winter, and following spring. I began the first week of July:

1. Till up the area to your tiller's deepest setting. Make sure you go back and forth, crosswise with your tilling. Most tillers leave an untilled swath between the tines. You want it all tilled.
2. Rake out every bit of bermuda - top growth, rhizomes. Note: you won't get it all, but you'll get about 50-75% of it.
3. Keep the area moist. The Bermuda will start re-emerging in a few weeks.
4. Till it again, as dutifully as in step 1.
5. Rake out every bit of Bermuda you can. You will note you will be removing far less this time than after the first tilling.
6. Again, keep the area moist. Bermuda will begin re-emerging in a few weeks. By this point, you can determine if it is worth tilling or going after it by hand. If you choose the by-hand method, the pulling will be pretty easy as what you will be pulling will be the rhizomes that are not anchored into the underlying soil.
7. Maintain soil moisture and continue digging/pulling bermuda as it sprouts. You will continue to do this into the fall, until what bits of Bermuda have gone dormant.
8. In the late fall, plant a crop of fava beans on a 2 foot wide spacing and mulch heavily with leaves, preferrably shredded. The favas will help with some of the nutrient damage you've done to the soil with the tilling. It will also provide spacing to see any sprouting Bermuda in the spring when the soil warms. The leaves will prevent/minimize erosion.
9. The following spring once the rains subside and the sun really begins to shine, rake back the mulch and allow the sun to warm the soil. Cut down the fava bean plants and go after whatever Bermuda comes up. If you've been thorough the previous fall, there won't be much but sporadic sprouts will inevitably be there. But your war should largely be won, and you are not down to smaller post-war battles that can be handled with garden shovel and continued diligence.
10. Your first crop in the late spring should be something like peppers or eggplants... something that can be planted with a heavy mulch of straw, and allows space between plants. Keep the garden bed moist, not just each individual plant. You want to give any lurking Bermuda an opportunity to re-emerge over the course of the summer. Your job through the rest of the season is to go after any Bermuda that emerges through the straw. Even if it means sacrificing an eggplant or pepper plant to get to the roots, then make that sacrifice. You're trying to get rid of Bermuda and growing a few veggies at the same time. Same thing you did with the favas. If you are diligent, you'll be BErmuda free by the second year and focused on growing food, not battling Bermuda.

Yes, this method is time consuming (meaning, longterm) and indeed hard on soil structure due to the tilling. I did it this way three years ago on what amounted to a thick, lawn-like patch of Bermuda. After the one year war, I placed raised garden beds (2X6) on top, added compost, manure, soil from other parts of the yard. It's year three, and I've had only 3-4 instances of a stray Bermuda sticking its head up. Considering my starting point, not bad. And I know there's a few folks reading who would frown on the tilling I did, but longterm, the beds are now no-till, so it was an intentional one-time war that avoided herbicides that would remain in the soil longterm.

Anthony
Citrus Heights (suburb of Sacramento)
www.thecookhousegarden.com


 
jimmy gallop
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Location: east and dfw texas
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I have plowed and planted corn about 6"to foot apart the corn will use up the nutrients and starve the grass./ pigs will work it over good .I am going to try to go to an no till this next year.and my garden is surrounded by Bermuda grass .I have built 4ft /10 ft cage to hold Muscovy ducks .will move them around it hoping they will kill,keep in check. we'll see .
 
Richard Nurac
Posts: 52
Location: north Georgia
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I live in Georgia. I mentioned in an earlier post how I had hand dug out the bermuda grass and secured the area with borders. Another method I tried which requires less effort seems to be working. Last year I laid down cardboard and on top of it, lots of woodchips and, not surprisingly, the bermuda grass easily worked its way through the barrier. In September of this year I covered the area with black commercial plastic and left it alone for 3 months. In December I uncovered some of the area and was pleased to see the grass had not only lost its vigor but was being attacked by fungus, which I assumed migrated from the woodchips. The grass was easy to fork and pull out of the ground. My experiment continues and you can read the details in the 12/17 post on my website.
 
Todd Nease
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Hello,

I have heard good things about the method Anthony described. I am involved with a community garden and have a large plot of my own that I am making Homestead style. In my Large area i burred most of the plot in 6 inches of steaming hot manure. then about the same depth of wood chips. In a 50 foot square hardly any survived my first assault.

The gardens there are so infested with the stuff, I decided to do raised beds and a container gardening to control my weeds. It seems to be working well. And there is little maintenance required.

To utilize the soil. I cleared an area, and started mixing manure and rice hulls into a pile, and mixed in soil, with which I filled my beds and pots. The pile is now a 3 foot deep mixing hole. And we just keep going deeper Probably another foot or so. Before we are going to give pit composting a try and start another hole.

In another plot we did the method that Anthony mentioned, but the guy who's plot it was kind of gave up as it was so time consuming. I planted a feild of Garbonzo and Faba beans there. It is better than it was, but it is still pretty weedy. I am growing these beans in Planters/Pots/direct seed. And they seem to be doing well in all situations. If anything the potted ones are better. I look at the garden floor as a large compost heap. and this is how we are going to try it this year to see if we can eradicate the Bermuda. And it seems to be working.

The deeper soil has no seeds in it. What we plant in it sprouts, and no weeds come up at all.
 
S Bengi
Posts: 1356
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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http://www.permies.com/t/20039/permaculture/chickens-Geoff-Lawton-video

Chickens will bring it down to the bare dirt.
 
George Bowman
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Location: Catawba NC
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Bermuda, crab grass … I was brought up calling it wire grass, all the same basic stuff from what I can tell…. I’ve been battling it since I started gardening 37 years ago …
I’ve tried the cardboard, the plastic, the fabric (it loves the fabric something to grab hold of) …. Mulch before the above and after, till and till again, spend hours going through each square inch of soil by hand getting every sprig you can find … Pray over it, cuss it, accuse it and finally just admire it, for it’s strength and persistence….
All you can do is dig it out when you see it, be vigilant and smile …..
Never put it in a compost pile even if you think its dead, it’s not…. Dry it out and burn it…
 
wayne stephen
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Location: Western Kentucky-Climate Unpredictable Zone 6b
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We heavily mulched our garden and orchard area to kill grasses to no avail. We ended up giving the sturdier grasses - Johnson , Bermuda , Crabgrass - more opportunity and they took advantage. Where we left well enough alone you still see a mixture of grasses and herbaceous life. Fescue , Timothy , lepedanza , sweet-white-red clovers , dandelion , plantain ,etc. The berm in the garden I planted legumes and herbs , but those grasses won out in one season. I am giving up on trying to kill them. I will try and plant more perrenials, but will take the lands advice next spring. Grass is an asset if you are a grass farmer. Rotational grazing seems a better idea- we like grass fed meat alot. I am inspired by the idea of growing Sudan grass, buckwheat , etc. and growing my own mulches. Maybe there is hope. This spring I am going to shrink the size of my chicken tractors and move them onto the orchard and garden areas - this will help with areas where we do not want larger herbivores.
 
Wendy Blackwell
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the real question to ask is "why does the crab grass grow?" the following link reveals some clues. http://www.sierra-worm-compost.com/soil-fertility.html

weeds are pioneers of disturbed land. Indicators of soil quality, deficiencies, and excesses. crab grass grows in dry, compacted, low fertility, low calcium soil. fix those problems, and your cg problem will lessen.

I have a 1/4 acre in Sonoma County. 1/8th of my plot is a weed patch. wild carrot, wild radish, daikon I introduced, prickly sow thistle, bind weed, frog fruit, crab grass...more nameless weeds than I can identify. I mow my weed patch once a month, starting in spring and by now, late july, its still green and growing, yet I do not water my weed patch. Everywhere else the ground is dry, cracked, dusty and sad. My thought is to return the nutrients that the weeds are pulling from the earth, back into the soil, and let them do the hard dirty work of breaking up the clay. I've turned my weeds into a living mulch and tiller. In the winter I run the chickens in the weed yard, so I can sow the orchard (where they spend their summers) with ryes, legumes, and chicken forage and let them decimate Weedlandia, and in the spring, before the last rains I seed the weed yard with whatever I want. its usually a mix of green manures, soil busters, legumes, beneficial incest blends, wild flowers, and any extra seeds I might have lying around. This is my second summer of this plan, and the soil is already improving, and some of my seeded plants are taking root.

in permaculture we don't see problems, we see solutions. Turn your weed "problem" into a solution, and remember, slow and steady wins the race.

also, if you must have a garden to tend while you remediate your soil, lasagna garden a small space intensively, that way if you have to weed, or pile on more and more mulch/manure/cardboard/mulchmanurecardboard, at least its on a small space, while you work on the bigger projects slower.

I know my reply wasn't about destroying crab grass, but maybe destroying it isn't the answer.
 
Zach Muller
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I have tried multiple things with various results.

1. Cover it with a tarp for a few weeks until the grass is almost completely dead. Once it is in this state you can use your hands or rake to pull all of the dying grass out. I did this and then planted purple clover pretty densely. So far the Bermuda is nowhere to be seen in that area, the clover is pretty overbearing and can keep the grass from encroaching. In the clover I was able to plant some perennials, which are doing well.

2. Another area I kept the chickens on it for half the summer and into the winter and they destroyed the grass down to the soil. After this I did a light forking and planted a seed mix of lambs quarters, clover, and wild flowers. It is now mid growing season and I have a huge forest of lambsquarter and sunflowers, but below them the Bermuda has come back and covered what ground was exposed. I think beating the Bermuda back using this technique would take a few seasons.

3.i have followed what Anthony did and tilled the Bermuda multiple times and raked out all of the stolons. For me this worked to get rid of the grass, but also seemed to destroy the composition of the soil a bit.

Currently I have another section of a steep grassy slope covered with tarps and plan to use purple clover after I pull out the existing grass.
 
Scott Strough
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Location: Oklahoma
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No need to kill it, just mow it. Great ground cover.
 
Brandon Begley
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Hi I just joined permies

I live in Oklahoma. It's bermuda country! Bummer. I have been converting bermuda lawns into different landscapes and gardens for quite some time. We tried everything at first. I'm currently converting my acre into 4 by 12 foot beds.

My goal was to do one of those beds each day. I haven't been on a huge streak yet but I have done many. Takes roughly 2 hours to complete a bed.

I use my broadfork to lift large sections out. At the same time this loosens the soil down to 16 inches. After I lift a section, I then break and shake the soil away from the bermuda roots. I prefer to let the grass grow tall. This way I have some thing to hold onto while I shake of the soil.  Also the roots are thick, so they so not break, therefore minimal bermuda is left underground.

Soil loss is minimal and if a little bermuda sprig comes back, it is easily removed without much digging.

Once the bed is complete, I make a sharp cut to make the shape visible and pull the soil in. Now you have a slightly mounted bed. Looks much like a grave. I then cover the bed with a few inches of compost.

I have grass in between my beds. I keep it mowed high. Eventually I will choke the bermuda walkways out.

It seems that as long as I cut it as high as possible, the bermuda is mostly satisfied where it is becAuse it has plenty of green height to absorb sunlight.

I went traveling for 3 weeks, came back and just had a few wondering roots.

I hope this helps. Once you do it for 30 days, its a breeze haha 😉
 
Jim Bryant
Posts: 42
Location: Piedmont Region of North Carolina
food preservation forest garden
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Thanks for all of the great input about Bermuda grass.
I am wondering, is Bermuda grass a constant struggle if one is only growing annuals? I have 2 - half acre parcels, one is Bermuda free and the other is our house and yard which is heavily infested with Bermuda grass. Should I grow my annual vegetable beds on the Bermuda free half acre lot and my perennials on the Bermuda infested lot?
Best regards,



 
Mike Turner
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Location: Upstate SC
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Bermuda grass is also a strong competitor for perennials, especially when trying to establish fruit trees in an area infested with Bermuda grass.  It is also bad in an asparagus bed, although with this crop you can lightly salt the soil to diminish the vigorousness of the grass and other weeds.
 
Jim Bryant
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Location: Piedmont Region of North Carolina
food preservation forest garden
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Mike Turner wrote:Bermuda grass is also a strong competitor for perennials, especially when trying to establish fruit trees in an area infested with Bermuda grass.  It is also bad in an asparagus bed, although with this crop you can lightly salt the soil to diminish the vigorousness of the grass and other weeds.


Oh well, I guess I have to join the ranks of the patient and learn to coexist with it.

Thank you,
 
Jim Bryant
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Location: Piedmont Region of North Carolina
food preservation forest garden
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There may be hope after all.

From 'Edible Forest Gardens' Volume 2 page 37. "We can reduce the chances that an unwanted species will invade by attempting to fill all the niches for the most important resources. For example, if roots from desired species occupy all the horizons of the soil profile, unwanted species have fewer opportunities to retrieve needed nutrients and water. A dense ground cover of shade tolerant plants under the tree canopy will make less light available for weeds."
 
Jim Bryant
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Location: Piedmont Region of North Carolina
food preservation forest garden
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Hello Everyone,

Well I dove in this week and actually started developing the soil. Step 1. is to get rid of the bermuda grass so my neighbor came over with his tractor and raked the lawn spaces with this attachment that has about 10 - fish hook thingys hanging from it. The lawn areas are nice and torn up so now I have to dive in and remove the bermuda grass manually. The total of all of the areas is probably about 3000sqft. Can anyone recommend a good bermuda grass rhizome barrier? Amazon has some pricey ones on their site but it would be nice to find a more permaculture solution.

Thank you,
 
Jim Bryant
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Location: Piedmont Region of North Carolina
food preservation forest garden
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So I am looking for covercrops to outcompete Bermuda grass here in central North Carolina. In doing so I stumbled upon this webpage. https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/summer-cover-crops Here is an excerpt from the page on weed reduction.

"Cover crops can reduce weeds in subsequent cash crops - While the cover crop is growing, it will suppress the germination and growth of early spring weeds through competition and shading. When killed and left on the surface as a mulch, cover crops continue to suppress weeds, primarily by blocking out light. Cover crops can also suppress weeds chemically - Some plants release chemicals, either while they are growing or while they are decomposing, which prevent the germination or growth of other plants (allelopathy). Researchers have effectively used cover crops of wheat, barley, oats, rye, sorghum, and sudangrass to suppress weeds. Weed suppression has also been reported from residues and leachates of crimson clover, hairy vetch, and other legumes."

There may be hope for us yet :)
 
Marco Banks
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One thing I've found is that by smothering it with heavy mulch, while it doesn't get rid of it, it becomes easier and easier to spot and pull out.

Throughout my orchard/integrated food forest, I have dumped hundreds of wheelbarrow loads of wood chips.  When the crab grass emerges, its much easier to pull out now as opposed to 17 years ago when I first started to develop this land.  Pretty much any week just pops right out now because the soil is so friable and loose.  I've never completely eliminated it but I'd say that I've gotten rid of 98% of it.  As I walk around, if I see it, I yank it out. 

Give your attention to building your soil.  Continue to add biomass any way you can, and you'll find that your crab grass problem will fade as the years pass, partly because you'll find it so much easier to root it all out.

Mulch, for me, is seemingly the answer to just about every garden question. 

 
Jim Bryant
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Location: Piedmont Region of North Carolina
food preservation forest garden
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Marco Banks wrote:One thing I've found is that by smothering it with heavy mulch, while it doesn't get rid of it, it becomes easier and easier to spot and pull out.

Throughout my orchard/integrated food forest, I have dumped hundreds of wheelbarrow loads of wood chips.  When the crab grass emerges, its much easier to pull out now as opposed to 17 years ago when I first started to develop this land.  Pretty much any week just pops right out now because the soil is so friable and loose.  I've never completely eliminated it but I'd say that I've gotten rid of 98% of it.  As I walk around, if I see it, I yank it out. 

Give your attention to building your soil.  Continue to add biomass any way you can, and you'll find that your crab grass problem will fade as the years pass, partly because you'll find it so much easier to root it all out.

Mulch, for me, is seemingly the answer to just about every garden question. 



Gotta love it.

Thanks....
 
Jim Bryant
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Location: Piedmont Region of North Carolina
food preservation forest garden
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I am starting to realize how important mulch will be in my future food forest. I guess this is why comfrey is so highly valued. I ordered 6 - comfrey roots on Saturday and may order a dozen more. I believe that I ordered the Russian Bocking 4.
I have a lot of brush in my woods that I can mulch. A 12" mulcher rents for $415 a day plus paying someone to mulch it may run about $120. That is a lot of money but mulch seems to be a necessity. Dave Jacke recommends mulching established areas but not much for newly developed areas which describes me. He wants to make sure all of the nutrients are established before the mulching takes place. I guess I will just let the mulch sit in huge piles for a few years until my gardens are ready for it.

Last week my neighbor came over with his tractor and broke up the bermuda grass on about 3,000 sq. ft. of lawn. I sent a soil sample to be tested and when it comes in I will probably do as follows.

1. add fertilizer needed per the results of the soil sample. Probably use a rock powder and organic. Probably till that in and then plant a cover crop, something recommended by Jacke's 'Edible Forest Garden' book. Maybe white clover and some fava. Then I will cover with straw, water and see if the cover crop takes over the bermuda.

2. install a rhizome barrier. Probably something from amazon.

3. If the cover crop is keeping the bermuda grass at bay then I will plant the comfrey, sochan, basil and other plants yet to be determined. If by the summertime the bermuda is taking over then I may try sealing it in black plastic.

4. This strategy is just to get the soil started on the road to improvement while I design the ultimate forest garden dujour.

Thanks,

Take care.....
 
Jim Bryant
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Location: Piedmont Region of North Carolina
food preservation forest garden
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Okay so last week I rented a 7" chipper for $290 and hired a helper for about 8 hours total Saturday and Sunday. We mulched as much as we could pull out of the thickets and thorns and even though we did not produce much mulch the 1 acre looks cleaner. I could have just spent the money on a load or 3 of mulch for the price of the chipper and the laborer but at least the acre looks cleaner.

Friday we bought 10,000 sq ft of 6mil black plastic from Lowes for $500. Today we are going to repair the damage that we did with the tractor a couple of weeks ago when we used it to rip up the sod. Now the sod is all clumpy and the black plastic will not work until we break up all of the sod and smooth it out in order for the black plastic to be in direct contact with the sod.

We decided to use black plastic to kill the Bermuda based on internet research, books and mostly Rett Davis a local Ag Ext agent. We plan to keep the black plastic on the Bermuda til at least late September. I am thinking til next spring. Rett advised us to put some type of mulch on the black plastic for appearances sake.

Best

 
lisa goodspeed
Posts: 3
Location: southcentral kansas, south of wichita. zone 6b-ish. more like oklahoma.
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so i am feeling pretty fortunate after reading this feed.  i live in kansas in a small town and my back yard 4 years ago when i moved in was nothing but this wiregrass and ornamental flower beds.  the first year here i wanted a swimming pool, just a cheap above ground one, so i went to work clearing a 10 foot circle in the middle of the yard to put it.  i spent a week loosening up the ground with a shovel and then sitting on the ground pulling out all the grass and roots i could get.  luckily with the hard soil i started with it wasn't rooted very deeply in the soil, but rooted more in the 3 or so inches of dead grass laying on the surface.  this actually worked pretty good so i got to put my little pool up, which killed anything underneath it for the next season too.  i now do this anywhere i want to put a new piece of garden. most of my beds are raised which works well here. now i go around at least once a week to make sure there is none in each bed and cut back any that is.  the fortunate part of my experience is that slowly clover started taking over my yard.  my 3rd spring of working this yard i noticed clover starting to come up in some bare spots that were tending to stay bare because we walked on it so much.  then it started spreading and i was so excited.  the last 2 years i have had more and more wild clover and less and less of the nasty grass.  i do put the cut up stuff in my compost, but i also sift it out any of it growing before adding the compost to my beds.  when i started i hadn't heard of permaculture, but have watched alot of videos since then and have come to think that if you can't deal with it there is probably something going on in the soil that needs to be addressed.  i have never had my soil tested or anything like that, just doing things that i can in these videos, but it seems to be working for me.   i think the biggest thing i did was stop looking at it like it was a problem because that causes worry and worry causes overthinking for me.
 
 
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