grass overtaking my garden

Mertie(Z5 MI)March 9, 2012

I used to have beautiful gardens. Over the years, I haven't been able to maintain them like I once did, and now have a lot of grass growing in my groupings of perennials. The main garden is 50' long and short of digging everything up... which I find overwhelming... is there any product on the market that will kill grass and not harm my plants.

Thank you, in advance, for any help you can give me.


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I lay down thick, heavy, corrugated cardboard between my perennials and top it with 4 inches of bark mulch. It
(1) smothers the grass & weeds; and (2) attracts worms. Worms enrich the soil so the cardboard/mulch does double duty. I use a box cutter to cut the cardboard to fit between the plants. The edges of the cardboard pieces need to be overlapped or the weeds/grass will find the tiniest space between them and grow right up through the mulch. The cardboard/mulch has really saved me from hours of strenuous work in the garden the past several years. If I want to plant something, I just cut the cardboard back and dig a hole for the plant.

I originally tried using thicknesses of newspapers but they break down too quickly.

For along the edges of my beds and along stone walkways I use vinegar. I pour it--carefully--out of a large bowl that has a handle & lip. Vinegar kills everything it touches--grass, weeds, whatever--so it can't be used between plants but it does help keep the outer edges of the beds from looking scruffy & unkempt.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 4:55PM
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Look for a product called Grass Be Gone. I found some today at WalMart. It kills grass but won't harm your plants.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 5:44PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

but wont you have to sever the grass at the edge of the bed..

or else it will draw it back into the lawn ???

a well grown lawn is not a collection of single plants... they are almost like an underground vine in some cases ...


    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 6:45PM
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Yes, Ortho Grass-B-Gone Garden Weed Killer.

It's a wonderful product. You can safely overspray MOST other plants. It will kill ornamental grasses, of course, and it can burn a few other plants, including sedum, baby's breath, and junipers. There is a list of plants to AVOID spraying on the label.

Just one note of caution -- Ortho markets several products under the Grass-B-Gone name -- another one is a crabgrass killer for lawns. Please be sure to be VERY careful to only buy the one in a 24 ounce ready to use pump spray bottle labeled Grass-B-Gone Garden Weed Killer. The other Grass-B-Gone products are NOT safe to overspray around your perennials.

I love this stuff, and usually use 8-10 bottles a season. It's great for getting rid of quack grass and other weedy grasses in borders and beds. It kills them, root and all, with usually only one application.

Here is a link that might be useful: This is the RIGHT product

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 7:40PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I believe that the other Ortho products are Weed-B-Gon, not Grass-B-Gon. That makes it a little easier to pick up the correct stuff.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2012 at 6:15AM
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aquawise(zone 4 Utah)

Google this grass getter. it works awesome I had the same issues with grass in the flowers. I will keep a bottle on hand from now on.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2012 at 10:49AM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

I do the same as Gardenweed - cardboard or newspaper, with a shredded leaf mulch on top. It's environmentally friendly, good for the soil, won't hurt the "good" plants, and it's free.


    Bookmark   March 10, 2012 at 12:06PM
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It depends on the kind of grass you have.

Bermuda just laughs at the cardboard/news paper and mulch and grows right up through it.
You can kill it all with RoundUp, lay down a raised lasanga bed 12 inches deep, and with in a year you'll have bermuda back in that bed.

You have to use chemicals over and over to get rid of it and just when you think its gone... its back. :(

Forget about pulling it or digging it out.. Its roots go down deeper than you can dig. Around here everyone knows its an on going battle and you have to work at keeping it under control.
Eventually it does get to the point its not ever-present but let your guard down for a minute and suddenly its growing back!
I'm pretty sure the OP doesn't have bermuda though.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2012 at 1:06PM
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rhizo_1 wrote: "I believe that the other Ortho products are Weed-B-Gon, not Grass-B-Gon. That makes it a little easier to pick up the correct stuff."

You are correct. The other product that was previously labeled as "Grass-B-Gon" has been relabeled as "Weed-B-Gon Max". Possibly due to the potential for confusion I alluded to above? Whatever the reason, I'm glad they chose to rename the crabgrass killer, because the potential was there for disaster by those who didn't pay close attention.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2012 at 7:08PM
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I don't understand what you are saying. It has always been called Grass B Gon.

I have the bottle right in front of me.
It says:
ORTHO Grass B Gon and under that it says garden grass killer.
Then it says: kills weedy grasses with out injuring ornamental plants.

On the same shelf there were other bottles of weed killer, clearly marked as weed killer and another one called crab grass killer.

Grass B Gon has not been re labeled as something else.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2012 at 7:35PM
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northerngirl_mi(Z5 MI)

Cardboard/newspaper covered with mulch will do wonderful things to smother many weeds...
BUT - if you have quackgrass (it develops runners from rizomes) it will run under the cardboard until it finds the edge, and will pop back up - maybe right in the crown of a nice perennial.

I would recommend a three-step approach
1. cardboard covered with mulch in the open areas between plants
2. Grass-B-Gone or Grass Getter for the areas where the grass might still be
3. you must create a clean edge for your bed - a clear deliniation between lawn/grass and the bed...

Good luck!
Beth Z5 Northern Michigan

    Bookmark   March 11, 2012 at 7:58PM
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Mertie(Z5 MI)

Thank you all for your wonderful suggestions.
I haven't had time to get back on line before now to thank you, but I definitely will be putting your good advise to work in my neglected gardens this summer.
I just knew if anyone could help me... you could!
Thanks again!

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 1:45PM
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funnthsun z7A - Southern VA

Ortho Grass-B-Gone has the same active ingredient as Ornamec, but Ornamec is just stronger and a lot of us swear by it. Ornamec is safe around most plants (they list the ones that it's not) and it is concentrated, so more cost effective in the long run. I have Bermuda Grass invaders, so couldn't garden without it!

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 7:58PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Rather late to the party but once edged with a spade or half moon edger you can keep the grass out if you have edging shears. Ken is right - garden beds need a 'moat'.

re shovels/spades. Here you would dig with a spade and shovel with a shovel. They look different and do different jobs.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 11:29AM
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Heard the English style came from digging softer soil,
while the other, Ukrainian, (the pointed one) came from digging the harder soil of central Europe.

Not used a half-moon edger, but apparently those for sale here have a flange, to step on, that prevents the thing from going deep enough into the soil.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 12:06PM
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