Sunday, November 10, 2013

Bermudagrass Nightmare

It has been quite awhile since my last blog post - over a year.  I'm hoping to get back in the swing of things and have much more frequent posts on my Texas Garden.

This summer in Texas was a brutal one.  Between the heat, drought, and my multiple travel excursions for work and play (California, Minnesota, Brazil, Turkey, Bulgaria, Poland and the UK), my garden was extremely neglected.  On top of that, one of the worst possible things happened while I turned a blind eye to my veggie beds - BERMUDAGRASS INVASION!

You can barely even see the outline of the veggie beds, or where the mulch path use to be.

Bermudagrass is a common grass grown here in Central Texas, because it is so invasive and will fill every part of your lawn by multiplying through seeds and the extensive underground root system and rhizomes. It does well on limited water, poor soil, and in intense heat, making it perfect for the Central Texas growing conditions.  However, I did not do a very good maintenance job, and once the Bermudagrass found it's way into my nutrient-rich raised vegetable beds, there was no stopping it from a complete takeover.

I did try multiple times during the summer to till and weed the Bermuda grass up in the beds, only to have it grow back with more vengeance. After a couple of tries, each taking 4 hours or more, I gave up on trying to maintain the grass by just tilling and weeding.

You will notice that the two veggie beds that get full sun have the worst Bermudagrass invasion, since Bermudagrass thrives in the full-sun, but doesn't do as well in the partial to full shade.

Finally, as part of my birthday present in October, my thoughtful husband decided to help me tackle the mess.  With some insight from his colleague, who does some landscaping on the side, he first pulled up all the mulch and weed block that had been laid down around the beds.  This was originally put down to BLOCK the Bermudagrass and other weeds from the beds.  However, I have now learned that mulch does not stop Bermudagrass.  If anything, it actually acts as a perfect place for the grass to take root and grow.

Next, he tilled up all the roots in the beds as well as all the roots that had grown UNDER the weed block around the beds and pulled up and threw away as much as possible.

Then, he laid down several yards of crushed gravel around the beds.  His friend informed him that it will be much more difficult for the grass to grow over or under the crushed gravel than it was with the mulch.  This gravel will then be packed down by tampering the crushed stone and we will later put some more decorate stones or pebbles on top.

There will then be more work in store for me next spring and summer to maintain the Bermudagrass from getting out of hand again.  Fall and winter is the dormant season for the grass, so I will need to wait until the growing season next year to fully get rid of the remaining rhizomes and seeds that still remain in the beds.  Other than tilling and weeding, I plan to try solarization (using plastic sheets to mulch the beds and kill the seeds and roots with high solar radiation).  If that doesn't do the full trick, I might need to take an inorganic approach and spray the beds thoroughly with an herbicide like Round Up.  I will try to exhaust all organic methods first.

Here's to hoping the new gravel borders, tilling, and eventual solarization works to KILL THE BERMUDAGRASS!!

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