[permaculture] Crabgrass, Bermuda grass, etc.

Steve Diver steved at ipa.net
Fri Jun 22 10:08:18 EDT 2007

Re-worded to clarify that the following methods
can be used in organic farming systems using
non-chemical vegetation control methods; i.e., 
without synthetic herbicides.  


Early agricultural literature used the common
name of "Devil's Grass" to describe bermudagrass 
for a reason.... it is a tenacious perennial
grassy weed that spreads and spreads.  

Digging up rhizomes is too labor intensive and 
it doesn't even control bermudagrass since it
comes back real easy from broken root pieces.

There are several reliable ways to control bermudagrass 
through non-chemical vegetation control methods. 

These have been discussed on this list and 
through the technical literature of ATTRA.  

*Clear plastic mulch as solarization.

*Black plastic mulch to block-out light 

*Geotextile weed barrier to block-out light

*Sheet mulch that combines cardboard with a 
top organic mulch to block-out light; absolutely 
do not let grassy edges to creep back across
the top or thru the mulch. 

*A sequence of shade-producing cover crops and
tillage, in multiple sequences over one or two
growing seasons, to disrupt and shade-out and 
smother-out the grass. 

*Green chemistry herbicides (acetic acid, citric
acid, etc) and/or thermal weed control devices 
(infra-red or steam) to knock back grass on edges 
of mulch.

*Place a chicken tractor over a patch of ground
and encourage eradication of vegetation for three

*Use a weed eater with rubber blades to periodically 
cut rhizomes and stolons that want to creep back 
into a grass-free growing area such as beds 
or gardens, then follow with a wheel hoe operation
to disrupt any root pieces running thru the soil.  
This is managed as a bare strip of soil about 3-4'
wide between turf and garden.

The block-out mulch methods will take about 
2-3 months; the aim is to completely deplete root 
reserves and/or set them back severely. Solarization 
takes about 6-8 weeks.   A sequence of shade-producing 
cover crops and tillage can take two full growing seasons, 
but can be effective on large acreages managed with 
a tractor.  

These methods will work if you follow the principles
and whip it good, then keep it out. 

Good luck,
Steve Diver 

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