The Q&A Archives: Removing Grass to Start a Fragrant Perennial Bed

Question: I live in Northwest Oklahoma. I'm starting a new flowerbed and first need the best way to get rid of the grass. Next I would like to plant fragrant perennials.

Answer: I assume you're talking about your lawn. Turf grasses can be tenacious, but here's a couple ways to get rid of them. You can dig/till it up, removing all the roots, rhizomes, or stolons. Depending on the type of grass, you may have to dig 2 feet or more. You can solarize, in which you let the sun do most of the work to kill the grass. You need to solarize during the hottest part of the summer, for up to 3 months. To solarize, moisten the soil, lay a 4 mm to 6 mm thick sheet of clear plastic over the grass, and seal the edges of the plastic with rocks or soil. This will naturally heat up to over 140 degrees F, in the top 4-8" of the soil, depending on soil type and temperatures. If you spread fresh manure on top of the grass before putting down the plastic, that will heat things up considerably. Or, you can use a product with glyphosate, such as Round Up. Glyphosate is a systemic. This means when it is sprayed on a plant, the plant absorbs and distributes it throughout its system. Eventually, it kills the entire plant, including the roots. The spray can drift to other plants, particularly if there is any breeze, and kill them also. Be sure to follow product instructions exactly.

Here's a variety of fragrant perennials in no particular order. I suggest going to some nurseries on a regular basis and sniffing plants! Calamint, Daphne, Pinks, Daylilies, Lavender, Lilies, Bee Balm, Peonies, Summer Phlox, roses, Salvias, jasmine vines. Don't forget sweet peas. Although they're an annual, they self sow and there's nothing sweeter! Good luck and thanks for writing!

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