The Q&A Archives: killing grass without killing my roses

Question: How do i kill the grass around my roses but not kill the roses or hurt them at all?

Answer: There are several ways you can approach this. One is to hand weed and pull it out by the roots, replacing the disturbed soil with compost or topsoil taken from elsewhere in the garden. Another is to cut the grass short and then smother the grass and weeds under a layer of newspaper topped with several inches of organic mulch. Another way is to kill it with an herbicide containing glyphosate. Read and carefully follow all of the instructions on the label. This is a nonselective herbicide so you do not want it to contact your roses; you might try the wipe on application method rather than spraying, or use a shield to protect the roses, for this reason. If it is an annual grass such as crab grass you can prevent it by applying a pre-emergent such as corn gluten to keep the seeds from germinating. This must be applied very early in the spring, April is too late. Again, read and carefully follow the label instructions. Your local county extension and professional nursery staff may have additional suggestions based on a more detailed understanding of which specific grasses are causing your trouble and how your roses are arranged and planted. Good luck with the weeds!

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