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Bermuda Grass  RSS feed

 
Candy Mills
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Hi Everyone. My son wants to design the front yard with a xeroscape type permaculture, using mesquites, acacia and drought tolerant herbs and food species. The mesquite and acacia can be used as fodder for my livestock: rabbits, pigs and chickens.

We're located small, animal friendly town in the Inland Empire of Southern California and our rainfall last year was 3 in.!!! Our average is 13in. but we haven't had that in about 5 years. The area we're working with is small, about 20 by 50 and is covered in neglected bermuda grass.

I know rototilling will only spread the grass. I've been collecting very thick cardboard to cover it; and then cover with mulch. I know this is a long time battle, but is this something that works with this very aggressive grass?

Thanks, Paul, for all your hard work and to all you permies that supply so much great info in the forums. I've read bunches, but this is my first post.
 
John Elliott
pollinator
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is this something that works with this very aggressive grass?


Short of putting a pig pen on top of it and have them root out every last stolon? No.

You probably will have little shoots finding crack and cuts in the cardboard making their way up and sprouting. Just keep pulling them when you weed. Fortunately for your xeriscape, bermuda grass only barely survives on 4" of water. In places like Palm Springs and Las Vegas (both 4" of rain a year), bermuda can only exist where it is watered, and dies away after a couple years without irrigation.
 
Myron Weber
Posts: 67
Location: Orange County, CA, USA
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I agree with John. I've had to deal with the same thing in Orange County where we are not as dry as you but this year had been a killer.

Another thing to try is cooking it with plastic sheeting. Wet an area thoroughly with a hose, cover it with plastic and seal the edges with dirt, boards, or whatever. Let the hot sun cook that for a few days and the moisture you applied will heat up deep enough to kill the roots.
This is not 100% effective but would dramatically reduce the grass. That combined with the things John mentioned should give you success.
On the plastic, I used clear painters tarps. Some people say to use black because it will absorb heat better, but I used clear to create that intense greenhouse effect and it worked pretty well. Just move the plastic from one section to another until you've done the whole area.
 
Jordan Lowery
pollinator
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Location: zone 7
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bermuda grass cant be easy to get rid of if your moiving to a perennial system. converting to annuals is a bit harder. as geoff lawton says the only way to get rid of nasty plants is to disadvantage it while advantaging something else.

around here we put chickens on it with wood chips. this wont kill it but hits it back, we go in and plant our trees. then we sow cover crop( bell bean, vetch, rye, triticale, peas). after that grows all winter the bermuda is more sad, then we throw summer cover crop in there, mostly buckwheat, amaranth and sunflower into the standing winter cover crop. you can do this 2-3 times a summer season depending on where you live. after that i follow with one more winter cover crop and by then the bermuda is very sad if not existent. from here you can plant more perennials and if you want put the chickens back in with more wood chips.

the trick is to minimize digging the soil after. once the area is established IF the bermuda comes back it wont be able to dominate and it will just become part of the ground cover layer.
 
mark andrews
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FYI:

i put black plastic over a 1000 sq ft patch of mine and left it there for at least a month during the heat of summer.
It did NOT kill it.

I cannot tell you what will, but I can at least share my failures.

Good luck.

 
Zach Muller
gardener
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Location: NE Oklahoma zone 7a
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mark andrews wrote:FYI:

i put black plastic over a 1000 sq ft patch of mine and left it there for at least a month during the heat of summer.
It did NOT kill it.

I cannot tell you what will, but I can at least share my failures.

Good luck.



I tried similar with a tarp. I left it for probably two months and the grass was so significantly weakened that I could drag my hand down and tear out whole sections of the turf very easily. It could have been my timing, or the thickness of the tarp, but it was a success. I put the tarp on mid summer and removed it at the end of Bermuda season and sowed red clover as soon as I tore out the turf. The clover is covering the ground nicely and holding the top soil. I plan to sow in more seeds and perennials for next spring to secure the area against a relapse of Bermuda. We will see how it goes.

 
Myron Weber
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Location: Orange County, CA, USA
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mark andrews wrote:FYI:

i put black plastic over a 1000 sq ft patch of mine and left it there for at least a month during the heat of summer.
It did NOT kill it.

I cannot tell you what will, but I can at least share my failures.

Good luck.



Thanks for sharing your experience. Out of curiosity - what latitude or USDA zone are you in? I'm in SoCal, zone 9B, so the summer sun is pretty intense. I don't want to assume the difference is clear vs. black plastic if there's a different explanation.
 
mark andrews
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I'm in 7a in New Mexico.

It was sunny and near 100 degrees for most of the month.

I enjoyed reading about the success at 2 months.

If you have the patience it is bound to work if given enough time.

 
Myron Weber
Posts: 67
Location: Orange County, CA, USA
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mark andrews wrote:I'm in 7a in New Mexico.

It was sunny and near 100 degrees for most of the month.

I enjoyed reading about the success at 2 months.

If you have the patience it is bound to work if given enough time.



Interesting. The clear plastic worked for me in a couple days, so the greenhouse effect with the clear plastic might be the ticket.
 
Candy Mills
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John Elliott wrote:
is this something that works with this very aggressive grass?


Short of putting a pig pen on top of it and have them root out every last stolon? No.

You probably will have little shoots finding crack and cuts in the cardboard making their way up and sprouting. Just keep pulling them when you weed. Fortunately for your xeriscape, bermuda grass only barely survives on 4" of water. In places like Palm Springs and Las Vegas (both 4" of rain a year), bermuda can only exist where it is watered, and dies away after a couple years without irrigation.


Thanks, John. I'd love to put my pig on it, she's doing a great job of "decompacting" part of the back yard, but the bermuda grass is in the front yard and even though the neighbors didn't complain when I was growing corn, tomatoes and other veggies in the front yard. I think they'd complain if I penned the pig up out there. But maybe.....
 
Susan Pruitt
Posts: 57
Location: North Carolina, USA Zone 7b
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Bermuda grass not only produces runners that overwinter underground (as deep as 8"), but it throws out a ton of seeds every season so success in getting rid of it requires a multi-pronged approach for at least a year, and then you have to continue pulling any new sprouts from traveling seeds! Luckily Bermuda grass DOES NOT LIKE SHADE so the easiest, but slowest method is to overseed a heavy ground cover. I've tried every method, the fastest and most effective being turning over the soil 8", let the roots dry out and pluck any strays as they appear. I did this in my vegetable garden (50' x 50') and by maintaining a thick mulch over the soil it only took one season to clean it out. In my sunny lawn area which I want to turn into a meadow I let white clover grow to 18" last year. It did seem to stop the top leafy growth but then I decided to mow it because there were other undesireable weeds and grasses growing - and boing! out sprung new growth from the bermuda. So this year I'm going to try again and just let the groundcover grow until late fall. In a 35' x 40' area I'm naturalizing - I put down 4 layers of cardboard (thick boxes from an appliance store) and 6 inches of fresh shredded tree mulch from an arborist (be sure not to smother existing trees). This took about a year to kill the roots and worked very well except at the edges where it snuck out and found some sun. In any situation it's worthwhile to cut/dig the garden border about shovel deep every year to prevent runners from outside the bed from invading again. This is all by hand on my little urban homestead - I don't know what you folks on tractors on acreage can do
 
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