navajo
Cool Member
Posts: 72
Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2010 11:29 pm
Location: NoVa

OVERGROWN RAISED BED GARDEN

Hello fellow dirt lovers!

Been a while since I came through here. The last year or 2 have been rough. But once again I find myself in need of some advice and know this is the best place for it!

I have a raised bed garden in the side yard that has been doing very well for the past 5 years or so. Last Summer, I fenced it off to keep the rabbits and deer out and everything was doing exceptionally well. But then a LOT of rough "stuff" happened in my personal life and I was unable/unmotivated to keep up with the weeding so the bermuda grass (I think) has totally taken over and destroyed it.

Last weekend I went out to reclaim it and used the weedeater to take everything down to the dirt and then tried to dig out and sift the bed soil but the roots are so thick and tough you can't even get a shovel full out at a time. So i was just going to pull out the frames and start over but they are "glued" down by the weed roots and are unmovable without destroying them.

I am at a loss on how to proceed! I was considering tearing everything out and tilling the whole mess but that would just spread the weeds faster. So next, I thought about plastic sheeting and mulching the entire area but don't have the money for that.

Anyone have suggestions for how to proceed? The clock is ticking and I am just frustrated! I mean, it is only about 25'x50' but all I have are hand tools.

Thanks for any and all suggestions!

Tom

cynthia_h
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 7501
Joined: Tue May 06, 2008 11:02 pm
Location: El Cerrito, CA

[url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=130376]Here[/url] is my first-person account of how I eliminated Bermuda grass from the "lawn" of our former house. It was still gone when we moved to this house 14 years later.

The great advantage you'll have in removing it from raised beds is that the raised beds haven't been walked on, so the soil isn't compacted....correct? If you need the leverage produced by standing directly over the soil and ramming the shovel straight down, find a board long enough to reach from side to side of the bed and sturdy enough to support your weight and stand on it while attacking the Bermuda grass.

Best wishes for success! :D

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

navajo
Cool Member
Posts: 72
Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2010 11:29 pm
Location: NoVa

Thanks for the info, Cynthia!

I was figuring it would have to be something like that. Might just do "spots" around the garden big enough to plant the stuff I need to this year and work on the rest of it as I get time and energy.

OH! And no the beds do NOT get walked on nor are compacted but I swear the weed roots are almost a solid mass! HA!

Happy gardening!

Tom

vermontkingdom
Senior Member
Posts: 141
Joined: Sun Nov 08, 2009 1:03 pm
Location: 4a-Vermont

Thanks Cynthia. I've had a terrible time with these darn things in my 12 x 10 herb garden. I was going to dig out, and sift, all the soil in there and had thought of flashing. I had even retrieved a roll of it from the shed but hadn't sprung into action. Your delightful story is the catalyst I needed. My weekend agenda is now set.
"Good gardeners do not have green thumbs. They have brown knees, soiled hands and big hearts."

Dillbert
Greener Thumb
Posts: 955
Joined: Sun Apr 04, 2010 7:29 pm
Location: Central PA

navajo -

methinks there's two different aspects to the the problem you outlined -
one is to "kill" the nasty stuff
two is returning the soil / root mass to a "diggable" state

if you kill off the weeds/bermuda, the root mass(es) will start to die/break down/compost 'on site' -

this 'composting in place' of course takes time. you approach of doing a bit this year and deferring the rest of the effort actually could work in your favor.

if you block the light from the weed patches, the stuff will die. black plastic is one option - it also keeps moisture out - which is fine for the "git'it kilt" part, but works against the root composting/rotting bit.

thick layers of newspaper and/or corrugated work as well, are usually a no cost item, biodegradable, and to a degree, allows the moisture through.

the one glitch may be: Bermuda grass sends out it's roots in every direction seeking nutrients and propagation. if the area surrounding the raised bed is infested with Bermuda grass, you will probably still get some invasion from the bottom up.

navajo
Cool Member
Posts: 72
Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2010 11:29 pm
Location: NoVa

Dillbert wrote:navajo -

methinks there's two different aspects to the the problem you outlined -
one is to "kill" the nasty stuff
two is returning the soil / root mass to a "diggable" state

if you kill off the weeds/bermuda, the root mass(es) will start to die/break down/compost 'on site' -

this 'composting in place' of course takes time. you approach of doing a bit this year and deferring the rest of the effort actually could work in your favor.

if you block the light from the weed patches, the stuff will die. black plastic is one option - it also keeps moisture out - which is fine for the "git'it kilt" part, but works against the root composting/rotting bit.

thick layers of newspaper and/or corrugated work as well, are usually a no cost item, biodegradable, and to a degree, allows the moisture through.

the one glitch may be: Bermuda grass sends out it's roots in every direction seeking nutrients and propagation. if the area surrounding the raised bed is infested with Bermuda grass, you will probably still get some invasion from the bottom up.
Hey Dillbert!

Yes, this is exactly what is/has been going on. The roots keep invading everything and coming up from the bottom of the beds (and anything else I put out there! HA!). As a test, one year I layed a half sheet of plywood in the area and left it for 2 years and when I removed it, the weeds/roots were still "bendy" meaning I assume, that they were still at least sort of alive. It is truly evil stuff!

As for weeding the beds, the weed root systems quickly become so entangled under the surface that trying to pull them during the Summer only succeeds in also uprooting the vegetables!

Might just take a multi pronged approach and dig out some smaller areas for this years cut back planting and cover the rest in cardboard and sift it as I get the opportunity.

Thanks for the idea!

Tom

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