or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Natural Living › The Mindful Home › Gardening › epic crab grass battle
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

epic crab grass battle

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

My husband and I have been in our house for 3 years now.  We have a nice sized back yard, about 1/2 of it is devoted to a vegetable garden and I have a big bed in the front that also gets veggies/berries (have to make use of every inch of sunlight in our tree-studded neighborhood).

 

Problem;  the back yard had basically gone fallow for ages under the previous owner.  It wasn't watered enough in our desert climate and the crabgrass claimed it all.  In the front, the neighbor's crabgrass is constantly sending over scouts.  I have strawberries there, so it is difficult to get in there and pull the runners without disturbing all the berries.  An obvious solution would be to do the strawberries somewhere else, but there really isn't anywhere better (as far as the grass or sunlight is concerned).

 

The first year, I turned the whole back yard and pulled two 40 gallon garbage containers of runners.  The garden was OK, and last year we built raised beds with cardboard underneath.  Thought that might keep them at bay.  Nope.   Now I have runners coming up under the bed, and I simply can't keep the grass out.  This is only sort of a solution; every time I dig them out, I end up chopping up runners for the next generation.

 

So, anyone have any fantastic, miracle solutions to winning this battle?  Everything I look up isn't very hopeful.  DH sprayed conventional grass killer in the areas of the yard we don't garden to try to get an upper hand.  That helped, a little, but I am not comfortable with this solution in the garden.

 

HELP!  I need reinforcements!

post #2 of 5

First, I don't think you are dealing with crab grass.  That is to  say, this is not crab grass that is causing you the trouble.  Crab grass is an annual that creates problems because it reseeds so profusely.

What you are dealing with is a running grass, possibly quackgrass.  And unfortunately, you can't do much about the neighbors (except offer to weed it for them!)  What you can do is maintain a buffer between your garden and the neighbors (on every side!)  You will have to regularly weed this buffer, but it is easy to "trick" the grass into running through it instead of attempting to plow through the packed earth below.  DO NOT PUT A BORDER DOWN!  Grass runners will find perpetual refuge there.  

 

Speaking of refuges, you will need to look under every shrub and perennial in your yard.  I have dealt with this in a neighbor's yard (when I was paid to do this kind of work!)  It was so badly ensconced in her garden I had to dig up every single perennial, set it temporarily in a nursery, weed the bed, diligently weed the rootball, and place the plant back.  Do not attempt to sheet mulch over this when it is invading from all sides!  Sheet mulch will only kill quackgrass when the borders are a far distance and the cardboard sheet is super-tight and the mulch extra thick--like 2 or more FEET!

 

As a rule, don't start spraying stuff that is not identified properly.  Again, I don't think you are dealing with crab grass.  And do NOT compost the runners in your home compost.  Either send them to a huge commercial composting facility or to the trash.

 

Or to your neighbors......... mmmm..... OK, not that!

post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetSilver View Post

First, I don't think you are dealing with crab grass.  That is to  say, this is not crab grass that is causing you the trouble.  Crab grass is an annual that creates problems because it reseeds so profusely.

What you are dealing with is a running grass, possibly quackgrass.  And unfortunately, you can't do much about the neighbors (except offer to weed it for them!)  What you can do is maintain a buffer between your garden and the neighbors (on every side!)  You will have to regularly weed this buffer, but it is easy to "trick" the grass into running through it instead of attempting to plow through the packed earth below.  DO NOT PUT A BORDER DOWN!  Grass runners will find perpetual refuge there.  

 

Speaking of refuges, you will need to look under every shrub and perennial in your yard.  I have dealt with this in a neighbor's yard (when I was paid to do this kind of work!)  It was so badly ensconced in her garden I had to dig up every single perennial, set it temporarily in a nursery, weed the bed, diligently weed the rootball, and place the plant back.  Do not attempt to sheet mulch over this when it is invading from all sides!  Sheet mulch will only kill quackgrass when the borders are a far distance and the cardboard sheet is super-tight and the mulch extra thick--like 2 or more FEET!

 

As a rule, don't start spraying stuff that is not identified properly.  Again, I don't think you are dealing with crab grass.  And do NOT compost the runners in your home compost.  Either send them to a huge commercial composting facility or to the trash.

 

Or to your neighbors......... mmmm..... OK, not that!

You are absolutely right, I am pretty sure it is Bermuda Grass, based on the different grass species that are in our area.  It is a nasty runner that is coming from under the sidewalk!

 

This is exactly what I have been doing;  digging it out in chunks and gently removing my strawberries.  I have dug down below the sidewalk and runners are coming from underneath!  I will be much more diligent in the future of getting them often through the season.  A friend has a torch deal for weeds, he is hoping that after repeatedly torching the sprouts that the runners underneath might eventually run out of energy and die.  Even if it doesn't work, it will be satisfying to torch the suckers!

 

I am going to pull up the stones in the firepit and put multiple layers of barrier fabric down underneath.  I know it won't keep them out forever, but hopefully it will delay them.

 

Great idea on the buffer; we will work on that!

 

THANK YOU!!!!
 

 

post #4 of 5

NO NO NO NO BARRIER FABRIC!!!!!!!!  Grass runners, like the ones you are dealing with, will live and thrive under there, and as soon as there is the tiniest crevice, they will send up a shoot of grass.  The runners will stitch themselves into that fabric and you will have a harder time getting them out because instead of one stone, you need to tear out huge chunks of a fabric that does not want to get cut.  AAAAAAGH!  I have spent countless hours (and getting paid for it, mind you) undoing barriers like this that have not only been rendered meaningless, but is making the problem even more difficult.  The works sucks, even when you are being paid $25 an hour!!!!

 

Grass runners are the worst.  *Grass* is the worst weed (way worse than any dandelion or thistle).  If you can get at *both* sides of the sidewalk the torch idea might work.  Grass roots can go fairly deep, but remember they are actually underground stems and will not go that deep.  Dig dig and dig down and start waging trench warfare on the runners.  

 

Then again, you could plant lawn and trees and mow the whole thing.  Might be better off!  Bermuda grass mows just as easily as any other, and even stays greener!

 

I know, the stuff of nightmares....

post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 

thank you for the tip!!!!

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Gardening
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Natural Living › The Mindful Home › Gardening › epic crab grass battle