what to do about pesky grass in a garden bed... - Mothering Forums

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Old 01-10-2014, 08:09 PM - Thread Starter
 
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The rental property I currently live at (an plan to live at for some time) came equipped with 3 raised beds (score!) and I am considering adding more in the spring. Possibly. Or just adding some large containers to the mix because I want to grow more medicinal herbs alongside my regular vegetable growing...

 

So here is my issue. One of the raised beds went rogue before we ever moved in. It was overgrown with TALL wild grass , and I couldn't believe how hard it was to remove from the bed!! But I managed to, thought I'd won, and used it. The following spring (last spring) it was overgrown yet again! Early!! We were pretty busy at the time with life so I just worked the other beds and left that one alone. I cut down the grass a few times but it is still there (dead now). I want to use the bed this spring, but I want to know how to get rid of the grass for good! naturally! :) (I'm a pretty inexperienced gardener, if you can't tell. I've had other gardens before but never had this problem!)

 

 

Thank you for any insight :stillheart

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Old 01-10-2014, 09:05 PM
 
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Depending on the grass, you have several strategies to use.  There is a good chance the grass roots go far down into the bed.  Also, notice whether the grass spreads by runners or if the roots are just clumped or matted.  Finally, how much grass is growing around the perimeter of the bed's base?  

 

Assuming this is not the grass from hell, I would take a shovel and go around the outside perimeter of the bed and shovel out the grass there (to 4-6" down into the soil and 4-6" away from the bed).  Then I would start in the raised bed, careful to not pry apart the wood, and shovel out the grass, roots and all.  You can shake out any loose dirt, but know you are going to lose a lot of soil in the process.  Haul the clumps off and stack them, grass side down, in a large pile, preferably in deep shade.  Continue until the bed is free of any visible grass.  At this point, explore the next layer of soil in the bed.  You could be done now, or you might have to loosen the soil with a spading fork and weed out any more roots.  Since this is a raised bed, you could be seeing grass runners (white, wiry) up to around 6" below the level of the ground surrounding the raised bed.  Fish around down there with some tools, but you will probably be good for the season, even if it's not perfect.  (When finished, cover the pile of grass with a tarp and weigh it down and leave it there for a couple or three years).

 

Finally, top off the bed with some homemade compost, or a mix of commercial compost and native soil and sand.  Before you put away the tools, look at the other raised beds, and if they have grass surrounding them, get the grass from right around the base the same way you did the first one, and you might be able to avoid all that work in the future.  

 

Hopefully this won't be the worst grass, and hopefully you won't need to haul in a huge truck load of soil.

 

Grass From Hell?  Worst Case Scenario, disassemble the bed (I know, I know) and bust that stuff out of there with shovel and mattock and some high school kids who aren't wise enough to not overwork themselves :p.  That bed will get in the way and make the work harder than taking the whole thing out and reassembling (and anyway might get inadvertently wrecked in the process).  It really, truly, is the best way to get it out at that point.  


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Old 01-10-2014, 09:13 PM
 
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P. S.  There is no "for good".

 

ETA: Sometimes when you pull the roots out around the outside of the bed, you undermine the boards a bit.  Just tamp some soil around the base when finished.  


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Old 01-10-2014, 09:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh my goodness thank you sweetsilver!! I think the mistake I may have made last time was not looking for more roots deeper down- I DID lose a bit of soil the first time, it's just so weird that it's a different grass than the grass surrounding the beds (the grass around the base is just regular lawn)- And in only one of the beds! Our area is kind of wild though, even though it's newer houses, which I love- Mullien and yarrow grow on the side of our house if I let it. Just don't like the grass in the garden bed, lol! 

 

Thank you again, I will be putting your advice to use in the spring!

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Old 01-11-2014, 09:11 AM
 
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It might not be different from some of the grasses in the lawn.  Lawns are mowed, they are compacted, and usually the good soil is not very deep so the roots do not have far to grow.  Once in extra-deep bed with light, loosened soil that has probably seen some compost additions, the grass is going to grow, upward and downward, to monstrous proportions.  The chances that this grass is wholly different from any in the lawn is next to zero.


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