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.”
For additional information on sheet mulching over Bermuda lawns…


2 thoughts on “That Pesky Bermuda Grass!

  1. Hey Frank…..isn’t Bermuda grass a non-native species?

    I’m surprised they let that stuff in here in the first place.

    Just who imported that from Bermuda? Shouldn’t there be an investigation, then litigation?

    Just when did the environuts find out about this imported grass? Why didn’t they bring it to our attention long ago? Could they have been in a conspiracy with the importers?

    • Technically you are correct. However, Kentucky Blue is also a “non-native” grass. In any event, the Bermuda came onto our property under false pretenses.

      A few years back, I had a bare spot in the back and wanted to fill it in. I picked up a bag of seed called Golden Gate Grass-at a local retailer of course. The information on the box advised that it was ideally suited to our climate. I also seem to recall a claim that it was used in Golden Gate Park. So it must be good! Right? Native/Smative–I spread the seed.

      Well, it was Bermuda. Now, in some quarters, it is considered a desirable grass. As far as I am concerned, it is/was a weed. Impossible to control and almost impossible to get rid of…

      For example, in one case it crawled under two feet of stone, went under our house, and came back out through one of the foundation vents.

      Given my experience, plus the extreme effort and expense to have it dug out, I agree there should be a full investigation, as well as litigation, to seek rigid controls preventing the importation and distribution of Bermuda grass under any name.

      As there are no public issues of any consequence before us in Petaluma, perhaps a movement should start to petition the City Council to create an ordinance banning the growing, maintaining, or importation of Bermuda grass in any form.

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