Summertime in Petaluma…

…”and the living is easy…”*

“The corn is as high as an elephant’s eye”…*

And the Bermuda marches on…
More and more people are converting their residential yards to create gardens and low water landscapes.  Most likely, this is partially due to the efforts of IGrow Sonoma plus the willingness of homeowners to have a little fun with their land.
 
Unfortunately, local Bermuda Grass firmly resists sheet mulching efforts to kill it.  At times, I think Bermuda Grass is probably the one plant that will survive The Apocalypse. However, if a serious effort is made to dig it out before sheet mulching, then the sheet mulching effort stands a higher chance of succeeding. On this point, I have followed three different locations that used sheet mulching last winter to “transform” residential lawns into low water landscapes. 
 
If you do not attempt to have it removed, this is what you will get within a few months after the rainy season…
 
 
To reduce the risks of this happening, pay the extra money to have the Bermuda removed before sheet mulching. The one location that did so is still Bermuda free.
 
*Apologies to the Gershwins and Rogers & Hammerstein

That Pesky Bermuda Grass!

It has been an excellent rainy season for lawn conversions and sheet mulching. Susan Garbert (Petaluma’s Duchess of Mulch) recently alerted me to another residential project on the East Side she had just completed…

Sheet mulching is an effective and economical way to transform a turf landscape. I have written about this technique to a veritable fare thee well.  (See Journal Of A Lawn Junkie)

However, there is one situation where it is a somewhat problematic solution–lawns with a significant amount of Bermuda grass are not amenable to traditional sheet mulching. And so it was for the one remaining patch of turf in our back yard–the secret turf stash held back by this Lawn Junkie –half of which was Bermuda!

Nonetheless, there are some ways of dealing with the Bermuda problem and we took on the challenge last December.

The approach recommended by Susan was to remove as much of the Bermuda as possible before sheet mulching. 

In anticipation of the project, I made the traditional last cut…

Then, I placed the last remaining piece of lawn equipment in the driveway with the usual Petaluma Disposal Sign…

Within the hour, the neighborhood mail carrier claimed the lawn mower.

A few weeks later, Susan Garbert showed up with her crew to begin digging out the ubiquitous, persistent Bermuda grass… 

In short order, the ground was ready for cardboard and mulch… 

A few months later…February 2010 to be precise…a new landscape ready for Spring…

So far, there are no signs of any new Bermuda grass. However, we will keep an eye out for attempts by the Bermuda interloper to return.*

The next few months will be spent “planning & planting” the new landscape.

*NOTE: From time to time a question comes up about sheet mulching over sod lawns. Lawn sod has plastic netting in its base and a few people have asked me whether it has to be removed before sheet mulching. According to Susan Garbert: “You still just sheet mulch it. The plastic from the sod is there, and you have to tear through it when you plant. As the soil texture improves, it is not that much of an issue at all. Remember that all perennial plants are put in. It’s not like you need to have it clear for roto-tilling and planting rows of corn.”
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For additional information on sheet mulching over Bermuda lawns…