Tx weeds are killing me, please help

greenthumbnick(8b)September 18, 2010

We've been very discouraged with our garden this year. The weeds are out of control. I made the mistake a few years ago to let Bermuda and centipede grow in the paths between the beds. That stuff is super invasive. This year we had a baby and haven't had much time to weed. I've tried several applications of roundup but it the weeds are back quickly each time. I have heard about solarization of the soil to kill all the weeds and seeds. Thinking about laying out black plastic over the winter and let it cook the garden over the next summer. Any suggestions and help would be appreciated. Also, if you think solarization is my best bet please give me the skinny on how to do ut properly. I don't want to waste a year in my garden only to end up doing something that didn't get rid of the weeds. Here are a few pictures of the garden. Bermuda, centipede, Baha'is, and more...


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 2:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
taz6122(N.W. AR.6b)

Mow it then put the plastic down using rocks or bricks to hold it in place. You only need to keep it down a few months in your zone. It'll be ready to plant after tilling in some compost around spring. You could also use the no dig method and mulch the walkways and beds with hay or straw. Just remember when new weeds pop up from wind blown seed to pull them before they get established. Letting them go to seed is the big mistake made by most ppl. When I let my lawn go to long and it goes to seed I bag and burn the clippings and use the ash in my beds.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 3:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Weeding is an every day or every-other-day affair. The method doesn't matter. You can get in there and pull those grasses out by hand or with a fork or whatever. After that to have a fairly clean garden there is no avoiding pulling weeds all the time. The more often you pull them the fewer there are to deal with and the lower the weed-seed reserve in the soil becomes. That reserve can take a couple years to get largely reduced but there is no other option.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 5:06PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My garden is beyond "pulling". It would be like trying to mow the lawn with scissors.

Do you think the plastic would work during the winter months? I have mainly Bermuda and centipede which go dormant in the winter.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 7:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We used a torch made for burning weeds last year. We scorched everything above ground. It burned the weeds and their seeds and very few came back.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 8:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I am sure you have a propane tank locally.

This works extremely well. It even works in the summer when you have plants growing. a little practice makes perfect.

Farmers use this technique with a tractor doing several rows at one pass.

Your garden is not really that weedy to me. And you can pull the weeds by hand. But one of these propane weeders works like magic.

There are videos of this on the internet.

Here is a link that might be useful: weeder

    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 8:39PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Burning and winter plastic will have little effect on the weeds described. I'm not sure solarization will kill Bermuda grass even if done properly. Solarization needs to be done during the hottest part of the year, May thru August. You wet the soil and put down large sheets of clear poly with all sides sealed. This will kill the tops but maybe not the deep rhizomes of Bermuda and such.

You can kill any weed by keeping down black plastic or such for 2-3 years. You starve the roots to death. During that time spray around the edges or anywhere runners push through with Roundup. Then you must be vigilant about avoiding reintroduction.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 8:58PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We had a lot of grass in our back yard just like yours. I have done it and burning the weeds/grass does work. Plants have a certain amount of energy stored in the root system. Kill them to the ground and the roots will do their best to replace the top growth. If they have enough energy in the root system they will come back. If they do just burn them again before the root system gets paid back for its effort.

When the roots run out of energy they will stay dead no matter what fruitnut says. Been there done that and bought the tee shirt.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 12:42AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Hey thisisme, what weed exactly are you talking about in AZ? I'm not familiar with centipede or Baha. They are too winter tender here. And if a simple winter freeze can kill them then burning off the tops likely will also. But Bermuda is another story. It has deep rhizomes and is very difficult to completely eradicate.

So talking in generalities isn't that helpful.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 10:00AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I started with thick 20+ year old bermuda sod last season and just turned it under. That killed about half of it and when the new shoots showed up it was easy to dig around and pull the entire rhizome out of the disturbed ground. It was a lot of work but I finally got ahead of it. Bermuda is persistent though so I have to stay on top of it as it reseeds or resprouts. In bermuda territory you will never be entirely rid of it.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 12:21PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

fruitnut we may not have those weeds but there is plenty of Bermuda grass and other weeds here. Plants need foliage to survive. If you burn the top at ground level the roots will expend energy to re-grow what has been burnt. Plants get energy through photosyntheses and some of that energy is stored in their root systems. Some plants have a larger reservoir of energy in their root systems than others and may need to be burnt more than once. Once the root system is drained of energy it has no more ability to push foliage.

Its the same with all plants. A mature fig can be killed to the ground and come back. In fact I would fully expect them too. However in the fig forum new members mistreat a freshly rooted fig cutting. All the leaves fall off. They ask if it will come back. The general answer is no. Reason being the root system has not developed enough to be able to store enough energy to push new foliage.

You being a frequent poster in the Fruit and Orchard forum have seen many posts on blueberries I'm sure. Blueberries have a small root system which is why they seldom come back if the leaves are damaged do to a ph issue or over fertilization. They are deciduous and can push new leaves in the spring. But if they lose their leaves once they have expended all that energy they seldom have enough energy reserved in their root systems to do so again and they die.

Burning works. It may take more than one time depending on the plant its being used on and how well it is established but it does work.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 1:08PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Sorry thisisme, but I don't think you have tried what you propose with Bermuda. You aren't going to totally kill it out in less than 2-3 years. That's with zero tops at any time. That's what I said in my first post and I'm sticking with it.

Hoodat says you'll never entirely get rid of it. Sorry but I'm with him on this one.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 2:48PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

fruitnut Bermuda grass is grown all over the place here. I know what it is. There is a difference between not having tops through covering and letting it grow and killing it before it gets any pay off for its expenditure of energy. If its just covered and not expending energy it can take years for the roots to die off.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 2:58PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Burning is probably easier in the dry sand/clay of most of AZ.

The cooling effect of soil moisture past even an inch of ground higher in organic matter can hinder burning a bit.

You can burn and turn...then burn again...then turn again...then burn again...etc. until it's under control.

That backyard in question has set a lot of seed, though.

Whatever method is chosen it's going to take persistence for years.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 3:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

nc-crn I think there is some truth in what you are saying. I was not trying to grow anything where the grass and weeds were in my yard and it is very dry here. I think that may weaken the plant and make it a little easier to kill than in other climates and soil conditions.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 3:47PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thinking in terms of having a new baby and changes in 'free' time.... I wonder if you might cover everything except one bed with black plastic and very thick mulch and let it stay for at least a year, when you will have more gardening time and the weeds/grasses will either be killed or fataly weakened. For the bed you will use this/next year, dig out as much bermuda as you can see and then plant your veggies [mulch between] and keep vigilant about weed pulling EVERY DAY. In future I suggest laying cardboard or old carpet in pathways...cover with THICK layer of tree chippings ... this is how I eventually did lick bermuda in my garden.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 4:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

I think if I were you, I would try a three pronged approach. I would spray with Roundup right now while the grasses and weeds are actively growing. Wait a week and then spray again. Roundup WILL kill Bermuda to the root.

Then, I would go ahead and solarize. If you have Bahaia, then you have millions of seeds. Solarization will cook them. It's true that solarization is typically done during the hottest time of the year, and, it is true that it's a bit late. But, here in my area of central Mississippi, they're calling for mid nineties this next week and it's entirely possisble that we could have high eighties throughout October at least. That really ought to do the trick.

The above poster was correct: you use heavy, clear plastic for solarization. Lay it over moist soil and weight it down well: I would use boards, so that the edges are consistently flat on the ground. Leave the plastic down throughout the winter, if you like.

Third, I would install black plastic edging around the borders of your beds. That way, you will have something to edge against, and can, hopefully, more easily keep runners out of the beds in the future.

Next year, and every year thereafter, be sure to mulch your vegetable beds. It will cut your weeding chores down to almost nothing, not to mention how much less watering you'll have to do. If you are setting plants into the ground, you can mulch the area from day one. For seeds, plant your seeds, THEN mulch after the plants get a couple of sets of true leaves on them. Just be sure that your ground is thoroughly warm in the spring before you mulch. I use pinestraw and use several inches. You want a couple of inches thick AFTer it settles down.

If all else fails, you could always grow veggies in containers for a year, and solarize your beds throughout the summer. Even in that event, I would still install the edging and mulch. Good luck and don't give up!

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 10:15PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
mflocco(z8b Austin)

Good advice here. I would add that I've had my own share of Bermuda nightmares. I can't stand the stuff.

Personally, if you've got the energy and willingness to do it, I would suggest getting some deep edging down around the perimeter then solarizing for a couple of years. I would also move to raised beds for your next planting. One of the greatest things about my 2' high raised bed garden is that weeds just don't make it in.

Someone else can chime in here, but it may be possible to do both of these things simultaneously: build up a raised bed and put down something (poly?) to keep the bermuda under wraps. Add gravel, then your own soil and hope it gets smothered. You'd have to set up some drainage holes which shouldn't be hard.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2010 at 12:08PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

I think mflocco's idea is a very good one. Except, I don't think I'd put down the poly. If you use cardboard to cover the grass and weeds and then cover it with fresh soil several inches deep, I believe that would lick the problem.

I would have suggested the raised beds above except for the time and effort you'll need to build them (while coping with a baby). But, you could make it a winter project and maybe manage to have at least a couple (3?) beds done by spring. Smaller beds mean less work, less fertilizer, less weeding (even less with mulch), but not necessarily less food. My 9 beds are 8'x3' and 6'x3' and I feed my family out of them twelve months a year. (Not 100% but alot.) If you go with raised beds be sure to work a generous amount of peat moss into them from the start. This will help your soil hold moisture during our long hot summers. You only have to do it once.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2010 at 9:50PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
sandhill_farms(10 NV)

greenthumbnick - While some of the tips you've received in this thread about ridding your garden area of bermuda grass may work, they will only be temporary fixes at best. Solarize all you want, dump gallons of poisons on it and go through gallons of propane trying to burn the tops off and it will still come back to haunt you. The only way that you're going to have a chance, (and it will take some time), is to break-out your shovel and start digging. Dig in one section at a time and be methodical, digging every inch and deep. Remove every single piece of root you can see, even sifting the soil with your hands. With bermuda if you leave even so much as an inch long piece of root it's going to start growing as soon as it gets some moisture. You're not going to get it all the first time, but when you start growing your vegetables and you see some of it popping-up get on it right away and dig it out. This will all take some time but as long as you stay with it you'll eventually have some success. Good luck, I'll be thinking of you as I'm digging-out some that I've been battling for the past year.

Southern Nevada

    Bookmark   September 21, 2010 at 10:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
taz6122(N.W. AR.6b)

When I moved here my brick raised flowerbed was full of bermuda. I spayed with roundup, put down 2 layers of cardboard, added about 6 inches of soil on top, planted my flowers and haven't seen a sprig of grass besides newly sprouted seedlings from wind blown seed in over 3 years. Much of the soil I added has washed away now and the level is getting close to what it was when I moved in and still no bermuda. My bed is about 3'x 12' but this can be done on a larger scale. I think the edging and any material that can be used to smother the grass are the most important steps for containment. The roundup was just an added precaution and I only sprayed one thin coat.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2010 at 11:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Has anyone tried the burning method for nutgrass?

I'd rather deal with bermuda, dallis grass, and johnson grass than nutgrass.

Of course, I'd take the nutgrass over poison ivy any day!

    Bookmark   September 22, 2010 at 7:13AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
franktank232(z5 WI)

I'd scalp those weeds with a lawnmower, gets truck loads of thick cardboard...Overlap when you lay it... pile on some black compost and then top with a very thick layer of woodchips. I almost guarantee you won't have those weeds anymore. I've killed off large sections of lawn with just that method.

I think one key is to reapply mulch every year...

    Bookmark   September 22, 2010 at 10:43AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
sandhill_farms(10 NV)

Below are two Photos I shot this morning of a small little piece of Bermuda grass root that I overlooked when I double dug a large patch of the stuff out of the garden earlier this summer. Cut the tops off - smother them - poison them and these roots will lie in wait, deep in the ground, and as soon as conditions permit they will start growing again, (as depicted in the Photos).

Southern Nevada

    Bookmark   September 22, 2010 at 11:29AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
taz6122(N.W. AR.6b)

They can't grow if smothered and getting no light. They may try over and over but eventually the energy stored in the root is diminished when it gets no light.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2010 at 1:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You could use black plastic mulch on your beds (it's commonly used for tomatoes and peppers). The plastic warms up the soil in spring allowing earlier planting, and no weeds can grow under it. They do try to come out at the base of your plants, but that's in the shade of your plant and they don't do well. This also results in much less area to weed. Do that a couple years and you should be in good shape.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2010 at 4:53PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

THis is what Im thinking of doing here in the next month or two.

Im going to cover the ground between beds with landscape fabric and then cover that with pine straw (lots of that here for free).

Then Im going to cover most of the beds with clear plastic and let it go for a year or two. My kids are babies so I dont have as much time to mess with a huge garden now anyways.

I will leave a few beds open for essentials like strawberries, onions, and 'maters. In the mater bed I will lay landscape fabric and cut slits to plant mater transplants.

Im doing this because it seems like the fastest for me considering my lack of free time these days.

How dos this sound? Any suggestions or improvements or comments?


    Bookmark   December 29, 2010 at 11:25AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
gpepper(zone 8 TX)

I know I am 2 years late to this forum but I've been battling bermuda grass, specifically, for at least that long. I am trying to kill a lawn full of the stuff to plant native plants here in Austin that don't use so much water.
I agree with Greg in S. Nevada. You must dig it out and then dig it out again. Bermuda grass is invasive and, as he said, it grows by rhizomes (root type structures that travel underground until it finds suitable conditions to send up shoots and grow). The key is to kill or remove the rhizomes, since these roots are the brains of the operation.
So, after many trials and tribulations involving much of the suggestions made here, this is what I've found works. I dig it up as deep as I can. Sift through the dirt and remove any pieces of root I can find. I know there will still be roots down in the dirt because it is pretty impossible to get all the roots, so then I solarize. I first rake the dirt to even it out and water it deep. You want to do these things before putting down plastic to break up the dirt and wet soil conducts heat better than dry soil. Put down clear plastic during the hot summer months(gotta be clear, black doesn't work to kill bermuda as well), which in Austin Texas is June through Sept. or longer but remember the hotter the better. Make sure the plastic is tight to the ground and leave the plastic for at least a month or until it starts to degrade. I use clear painter's plastic in 1ml to 4ml. You'll want to put brick or rocks around the edge of the plastic and seal it as to keep in as much heat as possible. Then I remove the plastic, mix in a good compost, and plant. I then keep a vigilant eye out for any stray bermuda grass that may have made it through this process. When I see a growth of bermuda, I get the shovel out and remove it.
This diligent process has kept my beds that I've dug and solarized bermuda free for 4 years. And, even after all this time, I will still see a little sprig of bermuda every now and then. But, put in the effort in the beginning and you will be happy you did. Otherwise, the bermuda will just grow back from underneath cardboard, through the bottom of your raised bed, from underneath black plastic, etc. Hope this helps someone! I hate bermuda grass. And, my friends all hate it, too, because they have to listen to me talk about digging it up all the time.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2012 at 4:06PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Too many seeds, not enough light
Right now, have basil, oregano, parsley, rosemary,...
weed or seedling
In the area of this seedling my daughter put radish...
Boo hoo! Purple sprouting broccoli didn't survive the winter!
I was looking forward to early broccoli this year....
ffreidl z5a
what varieties of watermelons are you growing?
what varieties of watermelons are you growing?
Planting where dog used to poop
We haven't had a god in two years. Is it okay to plant...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™