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Unwanted Grass

August 19, 2005


How to get rid off grass for good? whenever I remove it by hand, it comes back again. I heard that it competes with other plants for nutrients. Please help!

Comments (11)

  • PRO

    Grasses often multiply by combinations of tillers, stolons, rhizomes, and seeds, making them difficult to control. Like weeds, it/they requires continual vigilance to keep your growing area rid of it. Aside from the occasional use of a non-selective herbicide, I rely on edging, mulching & pulling it out by hand to keep it controlled.

    I recently read a report that found that grasses, and particularly the cool season grasses, have allelopathic properties; so not only do they compete for water & nutrients, they also contain compounds in roots that inhibit the normal growth of nearby plant material.


  • meldy_nva

    How to get rid of it depends on where it's at. Grass growing *in* the flower bed or veg garden can be easily controlled by using a 1/2" thick layer of newspaper topped with 2" mulch (like the first layers used in making a lasagna bed). Grass alongside the beds which keeps creeping into the bed should be blocked with an edging, either ditch-type or barrier (personally, I think a barrier is much, much easier to apply and maintain!). Grass that pops up here and there in the mulch can be quickly plucked out (those will have sprouted from wandering seeds). Grass growing in driveways, sidewalks or paths can be killed by pouring boiling water over it, or using a flamer to wilt the leaves (used properly a flamer wilts, not chars). Grass growing under the fence can be killed with boiling water, and a narrow line of lasagna-mulch or a re-cycled rubber border will keep it from returning. Keep in mind that lasagna-style mulch eventually turns into soil, it must be re-layered once a year to continue the mulching benefits; thus, the rubber borders are easier to maintain under fences. The wrong grass growing in your lawn presents a problem, because it is so easy to kill the grass you want at the same time as the grass you don't want. If there are whole patches of the 'wrong' grass, they can be dug up - note all the ways of multiplying that Al listed! and removing all the soil that seems to contain roots. Replace the soil with a mix of coarse compost and garden soil, then re-seed with the 'good' grass. For 'wrong' grass stems scattered here and there, you can hand-pull the offenders, which is not such a chore after a long soaking rain. In lawns, do use a lawn grass that is specific for your planting zone, keeping the soil enriched, and watering properly.

  • rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

    AL, my friend! I am SO glad to see you mention allelopathy and 'grass' in the same sentence! We are really in the nursery school stage when it comes to that subject matter anyway, but the concept that our lawns can cause serious problems for our trees is a tough one to get across!

    We learned several years ago that bermuda grass is one of the best examples of grasses with strong allelopathic properties. And guess which tree species has suffered the most (in the South)? The gorgeous Live Oak! Don't you know that the golf courses love that!

    Anyway, to the original poster.....unless you kill the crown of the grass you don't want, it will continue to grow. That can be accomplished by long term covering, or with herbicides (non-selective OR selective for grasses).

  • Kathaab_hotmail_com

    I thank you all. Is it O.K. to do mulching with a newspaper? I'm afraid of the ink in the paper seeping into the ground and finally to the plant causing disease.

  • Ina Plassa_travis

    no Kathaab, they got over the poisonous inks more than a decade ago, when they found out that the soy-based inks worked just as well.

    I don't like using the colored glossy pages (ads, circulars, and such) but that's more of a superstition on my part at this point.

    at this point, you'll do more harm to the environment by starting up a gas-powered mower (my neighbor has one that belches smoke like an old deisel truck that keeps me in doors while he's working)

  • highalttransplant

    I've tried pulling the grass that migrates from the lawn into the neighboring rock beds, and it does come back even when I think I've gotten the whole plant. I'm torn between giving in and using chemicals, which I'm afraid may hurt my perennials, or removing all the rocks, putting down a new weed barrier cloth, then replacing the rocks. Am I overlooking an easier, safer solution?

  • meldy_nva

    The easiest (and safest) solution to stop grass creeping into your beds is "edging".

    A ditch-type edge is quite literally a border dug between bed and lawn, usually 4 to 6 inches deep. I'm not a proponent of that method, so someone else will have to give you the details; there was a nice article on it in Fine Gardening magazine but I don't remember which issue.

    Otherwise, use ready-made barriers of plastic, steel, aluminum or rubber in strips or pound-in; or make your own of stone, brick, concrete, hypertufa, or wood. I don't really recommend wood because it's either treated to resist pests and weathering or it doesn't last long enough to make the effort worthwhile. Weed-fabric isn't recommended except occasionally as a liner in raised beds because sooner or later it decomposes - usually sooner unless you consistently keep it well-covered with mulch. With fabric, the mulch has to be replaced periodically and decomposed mulch must be removed else weed seeds sprout in it. Partially-rotten fabric does no good at keeping weeds down and is a nightmare to remove. If you want an equivalent horizontal barrier, use 1/2 inch sopping newspaper, topped with 2or3" mulch. The mulch will need to be re-topped every year or two, but the old, decomposed mulch nourishes the plant.

    A temporary solution is to *carefully* pour near-boiling water in line between bed and lawn - you can't make a neat line but it does very well at killing grass and weeds. A flamer also works well, with the same limitation. Another temporary solution (actually, I do this with my veg beds) is to find a source for shredded paper: fill your wheelbarrow about half-full of water and mix in the paper-shreds until you have what feels like a damp mess. Let it sit while you dig a spade-width wide, 5" deep trough around the bed, then fill the trough with the wet paper (stomp it to get as much paper as solid as possible). This will last about 10 months in my zone - just long enough to keep the grass out of the vegs; then the decomposed paper is tossed into the garden while re-making the trough. A permanent edging would be less labor-intesive but carts and barrows roll more easily over the paper.

    Here is a link that might be useful: two types of edging

  • Jesus_is_1_hotmail_com

    I am remolding the yard, and adding brick to an area as well as adding rock to another area. But I do not want grass growing which is Bermuda. How do get rid of the grass so that it does not grow back anymore besides keep on pulling it all the time.

  • sylviatexas1

    I've had good results with lasagna gardening, suffocating the grass with many layers of cardboard or paper covered with shredded wood mulch.

    The key is lots of layers & lots of overlap.
    (grass is sneaky).

    Here in hot ole Texas, I can kill it over a summer.

    but I still have to pull new sprouts.

    The only place I've gotten rid of it & not had it return is a pathway where I dug it out to a depth of about 10" & replaced the soil with cardboard & mulch, & even there I have to edge to keep it from spreading via runners.

    Bermuda grass is an evil weed.

    Bermuda grass & fireants deserve each other.

  • jrkuzara_comcast_net

    my husband and i moved into a new house and were eager to get some landscaping done. we dug up the grass behind the house and instead of shaking out the clumps of grass and throwing them out, he thought it would be easier to turn them over in the bed. figuring the clumps of grass would die under the mulch. now that the warm weather is here, (michigan) the grass is coming up everywhere! too much to pluck.(i have tried) we don't know what to do. we have perenials planted throughout, and dont want to damage them. any suggestions???

  • blazeaglory

    I just dug up an area around my orange tree. I dug down to a depth of about 3"-4". The grass is a bluegrass type blend. I threw out the chunks and all that is left is dirt. The dirt feels like it could have some roots left. I plan on mulching and fertilizing around the tree with manure but I dont want to cover any grass roots that could grow back.. You know?

    Does this mean that eventually the grass will grow back? Im so afraid. This grass is even taking over the burmuda in the front yard! I can hear it growing at night!

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