Removing stray tulips from Lawn

brian6464(4a)April 23, 2014

Long story short. Moved the edge of a landscape bed and then filled in with dirt and sodded. Didn't think about the tulips since it was late in the year and they were essentially gone already.

Is there a way for me to remove/kill/eradicate these without digging up my lawn? Is there something I can brush on them that will get down to the bulbs and kill the bulbs?

If there is no way to permanently remove them without digging up the sod and finding the bulbs, please let me know. I am willing to do this as a last resort since the last thing I want is for them to keep spreading across the lawn.


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This is the kind of micromanaging I don't understand. How is flowers growing in your lawn a bad thing? It's pretty. Why do people think a uniform field f homogenous green is the best possible result? Tulips rarely spread in the United States...if yours do, you are really lucky. Anyway, you can dig up the tulips or use an herbicide that only kills broadleaf plants. Or you can mow your lawn short early every Spring...the tulips will use up their stored energy making leaves that just get cut down and die out in a few years. Or you can irrigate your lawn every summer...tulips don't like wet ewnvironments.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 7:41PM
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No offense, but I much prefer a lush green lawn without random flowers everywhere.

Sure, tulips are pretty, but I do not want them in my $3000 sod. I wan't them in my flower beds or pots with the rest of my flowers.

I suppose there are some people who don't mind their urban lawn looking like a prairie. I don't fall in that group.

Thanks for the input.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 11:12PM
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iris_gal(z9 CA)

I think if you cut off the foliage now they will die off, Especially with lawn watering thru summer. Ought to rot them:-)

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 2:40AM
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xiangirl zone 4/5 Nebraska(5)

Can you use a hand trowel, slide it down beside the tulip, pull back the grass and pull out the bulb, laying the grass back down? Don't actually dig a big hole. Just carefully life the sod, slide it out and lay it flat again. Your sod shouldn't have a very deep root system yet. I would be nervous about putting chemicals on them that might leave my beautiful green grass with polka dot yellow circles of deadness.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 2:36PM
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aviastar 7A Virginia

just keep mowing

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 3:11PM
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Xiangirl, I thought about painting Roundup or some other chemical directly onto the leaves, but I think some will invariably get onto the grass and kill it, especially with rain in the forecast. I wanted to avoid digging, but your idea might be best.

AviaStar, I'm in Minnesota and the lawn is just coming out of winter dormancy. I won't need to mow for several weeks yet. Technically supposed to be keeping off the lawn right now to avoid compaction.

I could just cut them right at ground level to keep them from absorbing energy from the sun. I guess I'd have to do this for multiple years before they eventually fizzle out?

Any thoughts on how deep the bulbs might be? I assume my wife planted them an inch or two down at one point. The sodders were supposed to add a 1/2" to 1" of topsoil and then then sod. Is it really possible they could be coming up from 4" to 5" underground?

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 7:12PM
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iris_gal(z9 CA)

Probably the most asked about bulb is the tulip. How can I have them come back?

Most advice is to chuck them and start with new ones as most types will not return. They die out easily. Cutting off the foliage now will deprive them of storing any nutrients and your new lawn will not suffer disturbance. Summer water rots these bulbs.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 9:39PM
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Grass is also a plant that you can ... plant.

Dig up some of the grass along with some of the soil/dirt. Put it aside. Did deep into the soil to get the tulip bulb (a bulb planter would help minimize the width of the hole).

After getting the bulb out, backfill with dirt, then plant the grass on top. In a short time, the spot should be OK again, especially if you are taking care of it as an expensive investment that you did.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 1:42PM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

Just yank the leaves up. Nearly all the energy is in the foliage right now and pulling it off will likely exhaust the bulb. If they have the energy to grow again next spring, yank them again and it should kill them..... save your digging energy for dandelions.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 11:21PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

Digging a plug of grass to remove tulip bulbs, then putting it back won't hurt the grass at all, the deeper the plug, the better. This is how it's able to be moved around as sheets of sod. This is also how they move the hole around on putting greens.

To be specific, chop around a tulip or clump of them with shovel, very deeply. Pull the 'plug' out with the shovel without breaking it up though the bottom part without roots in it might crumble back into the hole, that's OK. The tulips will either be left at the bottom, sticking up, or if they come up with the plug, you can pull them out from the bottom, leaving the top of the grass unmolested. Either way, replace plug of grass gently, to make sure there's not air under it, but don't smush/compact it. You'll never be able to see that this happened. If it happens to get very dry within the few weeks afterward, that area would be the first to get too dry, so keep an eye on whether or not you might need to water it. Chopping the tulips off at the grass level before digging would probably make this easier.

I've excavated thousands of bulbs from grass without altering the appearance of the grass. If you're nervous because the sod is new, you could try mowing the tulips this year, then excavate if necessary next year. The digging should be pretty easy right now, since the sod is so new, at least at the first few inches.

Also thinking, if your wife originally added the tulips to the yard, maybe she would be interested in doing this, or at least have an opinion about what to do? You may have already discussed it with her, IDK. I would want the tulips 'back' though, as a personal opinion. They would also make a nice gift if you know anyone with a yard that needs more spring flowers. You're absolutely right about how it should be how you want it though, it's your yard.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 11:57AM
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