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March 2012

QuestionI have fought the Bermuda grass battle in my beautiful Iris bed for years. I am about ready to throw in the towel. Can you tell me if there is anything that can be used to kill the grass without harming the Iris?


AnswerGrass tends to be the most common weed in iris beds because we plant the iris rhizomes in full sun and cannot mulch them. Lack of mulch allows the grass free reign. I often think Bermuda grows better where it is not wanted versus in our lawns! I would recommend getting in there now with a sharp hoe and scrape off any dormant grass. Then pay attention this spring. As new growth begins and the grass begins to run, that is when you can use a grass specific herbicide such as Grass-b-gone, Ornamec, Over-the-top or something similar. It will say it kills grass within flower beds. It works quite well on Bermuda, but timing is important. It can kill a lot of grass at the end of the season, but then you are left with a lot of dead grass growing in your iris beds—which is not attractive either. Good luck.

February 2012

QuestionWith the warm weather, we have healthy winter weeds and tops of tender bulbs and other perennials coming up. Is there a herbicide that will kill the weeds and not hurt the perennials?


AnswerAnything that will kill the broadleaf weeds will also kill or damage your emerging perennials and bulbs, so either use a hoe, or spot spray, making sure there is no contact between herbicide and desirable plants. Round-up or a glyphosate product will work, if you can shield the desirable plants. I prefer the hoe or hand pulling to avoid damage.

June 2010

QuestionI have a fifty foot border of monkey grass along my front walkway. I am threatening to dig it up and replace it with a rock border because I can't keep the Bermuda grass out of it. Other than hand pulling it out, which would be a daily chore, do you have any suggestion to getting it and keeping it under control? We love the look of the monkey grass but the Bermuda makes it very ugly. I would appreciate any suggestion you may have.


AnswerI have two suggestions. One is to invest in a grass specific herbicide that can be sprayed on the monkey grass or liriope (Liriope is in the lily family, and is not a true grass). Poast, Fusilade, Grass-b-gone, Ornamec and/or Over-the-top are all brand names. Try to get these products sprayed as soon as possible, since the grass is getting a strong foot hold and dead grass can be just as unattractive as live grass in the liriope. Once you have the grass under control, create a buffer zone between your lawn and your monkey grass. It should be at least six to twelve inches wide. You can use some type of edging or mulch here, but it gives you some space to keep the lawn in check either with a weed-eater, edger or chemical. Whenever we have our beds directly adjacent to running grasses, the grass takes over.

June 2008

QuestionOur daughter has moved in to her great grandmother's house and would like to reclaim the garden from the weeds and Bermuda grass so we can plant it next year. How do we do that and can we keep the Bermuda grass in the yard and not in the garden?


AnswerIf you aren’t planning to use it until later—even this fall, you can solarize the site now and kill out most of the grass and weeds. I would scrape the surface free of as many of the weeds and grass as possible, then till the soil and wet it thoroughly. Once wet, cover the site with clear plastic, getting firm contact between the soil and the plastic. Weigh down the sides with soil, rocks or bricks to exclude air. Leave it covered for two to three months this summer and you can generate enough heat under there to kill out the weeds. You could then plant a fall garden, or if you want to wait until next spring, leave it covered until you plan to plant. Bare, exposed soil tends to invite weeds and grass.

June 2008

QuestionI have a small flower bed, 4ft. X 8ft. max that has been taken over by the Bermuda grass in our lawn. When I cleaned it up this spring I put wet newspapers all through out and up close to the plants that are there and then mulched well with cypress mulch. The bed has some hostas, day lilies and a peony bush. This is our fifth summer in this house, the grass was sodded when we built the house, and little did we know how it would spread. I thought maybe this fall I would dig up my plants and treat the area and the border around it with something to kill it off. Any suggestions or help you could give me would be appreciated.


AnswerBermuda is a tenacious weed and often seems to grow better where we don’t want it. There are some grass specific herbicides you can use and now is an ideal time to use them. The key is to let the grass green up and start to spread and then treat. Brand names include Grass-b-gone, Over the Top, Ornamec and Vantage. This will kill the grass without damaging your daylilies, hostas or peony. Once the grass is killed, pull out the dead grass and mulch well. Keep a buffer zone between your lawn and flower beds to give yourself an area to keep clean.


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