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PostPosted: Mon Jun 09, 2003 11:31 am 
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Location: Flower Mound, Texas
I am about to downsize my backyard lawn area and convert about 1000 square feet of lawn area to low water use perennial borders and native shrub areas. It currently has Bermuda sod which was installed 10 months ago. The soil is sandy and has no organic matter.

What is the best way to kill the grass all the way to the roots and runners? I am not keen on using using a sod cutter and removing the sod since I will lose some height along with the organic matter in the sod. Plus I will need to get fill soil.

My idea is to spray vinegar and kill the grass. Then spread compost over the whole area and let the grass(hope fully dead my then) decompose. Then till the area. I know this will take a while; I am willing to wait till next spring.

Any ideas, suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

Ruvan


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 09, 2003 11:41 am 
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Location: Garland, Texas
The vinegar spray will definitely kill the bermuda grass blades. What may not be totally killed off will be the below soil growth, which is how bermuda spreads. By tilling, you may push that growth further below the surface. Total removal of the sod and just below the surface probably will be required to prevent this from haunting you from now on.

I know you don't like the idea of a sod cutter because of soil loss. I believe the commercial sod cutters can be set to as low as 1" (I think). You won't lose that much top soil and if it does not completely remove the underground growth totally, it will at least expose it so that you can treat with vinegar solution.

Good luck.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2003 12:59 pm 
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Why are you getting rid of the bermuda? It sounds like watering is your motivation, but is there another reason?

I would suggest that even if you could get rid of it, the fact that you plan to have soil between plantings will invite weeds back in. Do you have a plan for weed suppression after the change over?

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2003 10:46 am 
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Yes, I plan on pulling the weeds by hand(these will end up in the compost pile). Also my backyard is irregularly shaped and I want to break the monotony of a large span of turf with some perennial beds to make it more interesting. I can also drip irrigate these beds thereby saving on water.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2003 11:49 am 
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The only thing I know of, chemical or organic, that will kill bermuda grass is shade. Even then I doubt if it is killed but probably just dormant waiting for a passing glimpse at the sun to come back in full force.

I'll admit that I'm not an expert on the chemical grass killers, so there could be one that works.

Now that I think about it, I've read that geese can kill it out, but that might not be an option.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2003 3:24 pm 
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Ruvan wrote:
...I want to break the monotony of a large span of turf with some perennial beds to make it more interesting. I can also drip irrigate these beds thereby saving on water.


Excellent reason and a really good idea in general. I think your results will prove much more aesthetically pleasing than a large patch of non-descript turf. I do think that some form of digging is going to be required to ensure the Bermuda grass doesn't turn into the turf that keeps on giving.

Let us know what you decide to do, and how it turns out.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2003 7:56 pm 
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I know the Dirt Doctor generally doesn't care for solarization, but I wonder if it might be a good option for your situation, depending on how much time you have to work with. I usually think that solarizing clays, loams, or silts can reduce the microbial activity in the solarized area (but see a somewhat contrary view at: http://eesc.orst.edu/agcomwebfile/garde ... dkill.html ), but that may not be as important if your area really is a sand desert. You may end up adding the kind of organic matter that one might add back after a solar treatment anyway, so it might not be a big deal. The chatter about solarizing BG seems to focus more on the hot, light form (using clear plastic) than on using the dark form (black plastic), but maybe your light conditions would affect the choice.

Some references say that BG seed is not killed by solarization (e.g., http://www.digmagazine.com/98/7-98/sylvia3.cfm ), but you probably will have trouble with seeds under any scenario if they are present. The possibility that there could be residual BG seed in the area is a good argument for planting your replacement plants in a dense fashion to choke new gernination.

I've seen a thread on another forum (in which Dchall participated, I believe) where the idea of covering the area deeply with shredded wood mulch was discussed (or maybe cussed). Sort of death by darkness and nutrition, I guess. In case you're wondering if you could use a salt spray and then flush/leach the excess out of the sand, BG apparently is fairly salt tolerant.

I wonder how much the root/rhizome/stolon system developed in barren sand in 10 months. It might not be as extensive and hardy as a long established situation, but there's one way to find out for sure. I guess you know you'll have to keep the surrounding BG (if there is any) out of your flower plot. I'd think that your job is easier for having very sandy conditions, but I could be wrong. I haven't tried any of this on BG, so no guarantees.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2003 9:10 pm 
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Enzyme11 wrote:
...where the idea of covering the area deeply with shredded wood mulch was discussed (or maybe cussed).


Based on personal experimentation, using a cover of @ 4" cedar mulch, proved this method ineffective in snuffing out Bermuda grass in one area of one of my beds.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2003 6:04 am 
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The one particular anecdote I saw involved using a foot of wood chips (imagine the breakdown time on that), and a concern about avoiding regrowth from iinfiltration of rhizomes from the surrounding area. It would seem that a shade cover on top of the mulch would help, but it might reduce the mulch breakdown rate. I don't know if it would help to knock out the crowns by scalping them down and then spraying them with an orange oil/vinegar/soap spray before putting on the chips or the solar cover. I've not seen comments from people that have tried that, but I imagine it has been done.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2003 7:05 am 
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Enzyme11 wrote:
...involved using a foot of wood chips (imagine the breakdown time on that), ...
:shock:

Enzyme11 wrote:
...and a concern about avoiding regrowth from iinfiltration of rhizomes from the surrounding area...
That is definitely a concern. My experience is that Bermuda grass can be as invasive as any noxious weeds. In fact I believe HG has referred to it as such in the past.

Enzyme11 wrote:
...I don't know if it would help to knock out the crowns by scalping them down and then spraying them with an orange oil/vinegar/soap spray before putting on the chips ...
I have sprayed the new growth as it pops up through the mulch, without much permanent results. Best results come from hand digging.

This particular bed is problematic for me. Between the Bermuda grass, Virginia Creeper, and wild onion/garlic it keeps me busy either digging, amending, or mulching. After 9 years, you would think those guys would have used up their energy and given up as HG suggests. One thing is for certain after the breakdown of 9 years of cedar mulch, I have some of the lightest and airiest soil. :)

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2003 9:29 am 
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I found that by using the solarization (didn't know that is what it was called), then covering with compost, then newspaper (5-6 sheets thick) then 3-4 inches of shredded cedar, it kept everything nice. I have a strip in front of the house I am killing this summer to plant some native, drought/heat tolerant perenials next spring.

I have another section that I dug out by hand and then put a barrier around. There were some pieces left, but I just pull them out as they show their evil faces. Either way, bermuda is almost impossible to get rid of without diligently making sure it doesn't come back.


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