Lasagne Garden over Bermuda grass?

addictedtoroses(z6TX)July 28, 2007

This Spring I tilled up and planted our first vegetable garden in this house, and by this time I'm ready to pull up all the plants and be done with it. The grass is fuller and healthier than it was before, it's very hard and time-consuming to get it out (then when you have it all pulled out you have to turn around and do it again because it grows back so fast!) Our plants are doing very poorly and are starting to die.

So, back to the drawing board.

I've heard about people making lasagne gardens directly on top of their grass with cardboard, grass clippings, composted manure, dried leaves and rotting vegetable matter. Can this really be done on top of Bermuda grass, with little to no grass growing in the bed?

Please talk to me. Tell me your success stories with lasagne gardening and keeping that pesky annoying grass out of the garden.

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karbie18(z5 IL)

Can't help because I don't know a thing about lasagne gardening, but I'm looking forward to hearing responses. I, too, am sick of battling the grass. I truly sympathize.

Another Karen

    Bookmark   July 28, 2007 at 6:46PM
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buford(7 NE GA)

Maybe another type of grass. Bermuda is noxious. It spreads horizontally, not by seed. And it is hard to kill. Even if the top green layer turns brown, the rhizomes will stay alive under the soil and eventually come up.

Your options are to 1) remove the sod layer and any rhizomes in the soil or 2) round up the grass, then put layers on top.

As you have seen the layers on top of live grass only make it grow fuller and greener.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2007 at 7:22PM
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My understanding is that Bermuda grass is one tough grass adn the most bestest way to keep it out of a planting bed is to remove it totally and get all the roots and rootlets as well. Covering it with newspapers and mulch or the "Lasangna" bed seldom, from discussions here, will eliminate it forever.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2007 at 7:29AM
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To add to the above:

From my experience lasagna gardening will not keep the grass out, but it will make it easier to pull out as it grows in, provided you have enough depth to your layers.

We have some undesired bermuda grass in our back yard, and we have tried to kill it organically without luck. I am largely organic, but do plan to round-up this patch since other methods have failed. I learned last week that in order to round-up the grass, it is important to have it growing lush, first, so that it is more receptive to the poison. So, we need to start watering it, etc.

Round up is not organic, and I don't really want to support Monsanto, but the research I have read on the effects of Roundup on the soil indicate that it is not terribly harmful, especially if used carefuilly and sparingly.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2007 at 11:33AM
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ceresone(missouri ozarks)

Round-Up dont work--Dont ask me how I know
Theres a product called "over The Top. thats supposed to kill Bermuda. I've battled it 40 years, its winning--I was told roots go much deeper than you want to did, believe me...

    Bookmark   July 29, 2007 at 11:55AM
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reg_pnw7(WA 7, sunset 4)

Bermuda grass is very tough stuff. Not comparable to other grasses. Bermuda, kikuyu, centipede and St Augustine grasses are in a class of their own. Here's my experience with bermuda. No, it does not grow here, it's a subtropical grass, but I gardened for decades in CA where it does grow well. Here we get quack grass and bent grass instead.

I once worked in a garden that had bermuda sprouting here and there and when I tried to dig to the roots I could not find them. The owner told me she had had a landscaper put down a foot (12") of topsoil over the old garden to make the new garden. The bermuda was coming up through the foot of topsoil from the old garden into the new garden. He had told her it wouldn't, but he was wrong. There was nothing I could do to it at that point - I could not reach the roots as they were more than a foot below the surface, and I could not spray it as it was mixed in with the new plants.

My own back lawn was bermuda and it did die when I didn't want it to. Living in a very hot dry area, bermuda lawns have their appeal. My husband plunked some woodworking project on the lawn that was there for most of the summer, so I could not water the lawn at all. Bermuda is very drought tolerant but not that much apparently. It was also totally shaded by sawhorses and sheets of plywood sitting on the ground. Add two active dogs weighing 60lbs and 120lbs and you have dead bermuda grass.

My grandmother in Alabama had 2 acres of bermuda grass she wanted to replace with zoysia. Took her 30 years but she got it completed before she died. She sprayed patches of the bermuda with Roundup and then covered it with newspaper. If you get the new growth, it will die. But you have to do it repeatedly. Don't plant your new garden until the bermuda is totally dead.

With all weeds, Roundup works best if they are growing actively, that means watering and even fertilizing the weeds before spraying.

A lasagna bed will kill off most turf grasses if it gets hot enough, but bermuda roots go too deep for that. I have cleared out bent grass with lasagna beds but the quack grass comes back.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2007 at 12:37PM
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gardenlen(s/e qld aust)

we have pic's of our raised beds that may give you an idea for your same lasagne bed, when creating a garden bed don't forget to incorporate a weed barrier of up to 1 meter around the bed this is done with the same layers of newspaper as in the bed so they are all overlapped and then cover with mulch hay or the like for the barrier/paths.


Here is a link that might be useful: len's garden page

    Bookmark   July 29, 2007 at 3:18PM
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buford(7 NE GA)

You can kill it with round up, but it may take a few applications. I'd also use a stronger than recommended concentration. Our bermuda is not growing well in shady spots, so we want to take it out and make gravel and stone paths. The lack of sun took care of most of it, and the round up is doing the rest.

Also,regular edging will keep it out of your beds after they are established.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2007 at 5:05PM
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habitat_gardener(z9 CA/Sunset15)

I got rid of bermuda grass (and bindweed) in the paths around my garden plots at the community garden by pulling any stolons and rhizomes I could see, then putting down cardboard or newspaper and 6-8 inches of mulch. It went from being a constant lush nuisance to a once-in-awhile easy-to-pull straggler within one season. Also, since surrounding gardeners still allow it in their garden beds, the roots are fed and watered regularly. It has not reappeared in my garden beds.

Other people who have mulched without the cardboard and prepulling have had it reappear, but (if they bothered to pull it) it's easier to pull when it comes up through thick mulch. Even in the paths near my garden where the gardeners do not mulch, I've found it satisfying to dig up the long stolons and rhizomes occasionally, and over time their number has decreased.

I think the bg was such a huge problem because you started out by tilling. That's how bg is planted!! The stolons and rhizomes are cut up into little pieces, then scattered. Each one develops into a new plant.

One of the people at the community garden digs and sifts the soil (half-inch mesh) down to about a foot when starting a new garden. He removes rocks as well as bg rhizomes that way.

I would not use poison on food-growing soil.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2007 at 10:19PM
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buford(7 NE GA)

Round up breaks up very quickly in the soil and will not have any effect on anything planted after it is applied.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 6:37AM
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ceresone(missouri ozarks)

I have to smile reading this--evidentaly everyone elses B G is tamer that mine. I covered a 12' area with plastic, cardboard over, and chips over that. 8 years later, I moved it--I had white root reaching everywhere--going out each side.Scotts rep told me roots go down 8'. And, Round-up says it will not kill BG, I mixed it double-they're right, it didnt. Over the top, cant remember the chemical, is made especially for bermuda-but even it takes 3 or more sprayings. Nueclar blast, 2 things will survive--roaches, and bermuda grass.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 8:37AM
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Cersone - I'm giggling a bit here too. I pretty much did the same thing you did, and 4 moths later, and 1 rain, all the grass came right back. We ended up tilling & digging to remove the roots. We are currently 8" deep, and the soil is still chock full of bermuda roots. So I've sprayed the roots, and put down more landscape fabric. We'll just have to see where it goes from here. :-)

    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 6:37PM
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I don't find Round Up all that effective on Bermuda, it will look dead, but it seems to green right back up! There is an ortho product that works pretty well and it is safe to use in a "landscape"...not sure I'd use it around food, but you could read the label. I've used it in flowerbeds and had good results. It takes longer and probably several applications, but I would start with that and then build the lasagna on top of it.

I did create a bed over the top of bermuda without killing it first, but I did make a VERY DEEP bed...several feet, the majority of which was wood chips. Bermuda still gets in, one way or the other, but it is easier to keep on top of.


    Bookmark   August 1, 2007 at 3:11PM
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maureen1953(Z4 Central NY)

From what I've heard, Bermuda grass is similar to Quack grass which we have in the Northeast, spreads by underground runners, long white knitting needle sized roots that can pierce a potato! We have had success with "controlling" it by putting down cardboard or thick layers of wet newspapers and layering lasagne style at least 8" thick, or just a deep layer of spoiled hay. As long as you keep on top of it, literally, with renewal of organic matter, covering up any occasional green shoots you see. Another ESSENTIAL part of this treatment is to trench all around the garden area you are treating, and keep it trenched, at least 18" deep, to prevent the burmuda/quack grass roots from invading the garden. The roots already in the garden will eventually die from lack of light, and even if that takes a long time, it won't bother you with sprouting all over your garden. This has to be kept up for as long as you have your garden, and will tremendously improve the soil in the meantime!

    Bookmark   August 2, 2007 at 12:26PM
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My arms are sore from pulling up all the stinking BG in my rose / daylilly area. My neighbor's lawn is 1/2 BG, the other 1/2 weeds (supposed to be 100% fescue), so I think I have an uphill battle - their lawn care professionals often "spray" the mower over into my yard. I was planning a round-up session this week at the edges of the bed (the source), but I think I may reconsider. Where did you all get the over-the-top stuff? I have not seen that around here in middle TN. Or maybe I should just encourage my DH to get busy on a woodworking project and borrow a big dog or two to sit on the BG. Thanks for the laughs, y'all!

    Bookmark   August 6, 2007 at 12:20AM
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macfairman(10 N. CA)

I was very successful in killing off bermuda under cardboard. I used a LOT of cardboard and was compulsive about overlapping and making certain there were no areas open. Throwing down a whole extra section of cardboard was often done.

Then I covered the area in wood chips to 3". I did this in the fall before the winter rains (in CA) and I believe the bermuda rotted. I have clay soil.

In another area I put down that weed cloth stuff -- the plastic type with little holes -- and 4" of rubber mulch for a play area. I had bermuda popping through there constantly. Each section would get roundup, die and then new sprigs of bermuda would appear. I pulled back the plastic and indeed there were a large number of pink bermuda stolons just waiting for a chance. I had to use roundup a fair bit but it did eventually die off.

I had no such trouble with the cardboard/wood chips. I do think that cardboard and thick is the trick. I now have raised beds and a veggie garden in that area. The lawn I seeded in another part of the yard has some bermuda trying to compete but that's something I expected in a lawn area.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2007 at 12:23AM
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