The Q&A Archives: Weeds

Question: In my flower bed,I have what I think is called Devil's Grass. I'm having trouble getting rid of it. It grows wild and has taken over my whole flower bed. I have a raised flower bed so I have no idea how this

Answer: Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon) is an aggressive plant and when it invades flower beds and ground cover, it's called "devil grass" by frustrated gardeners. Bermudagrass tolerates alkaline soils and poor soil conditions including prolonged drought, but grows rapidly if soil moisture is present. It strongly responds to nitrogen fertilizer, which means stolons or rhizomes which encounter fertile soil in flower beds will proliferate. Once established, common and hybrid bermudagrasses sink roots as deep as six feet, a desirable quality from the standpoint of withstanding environmental stress, but an obstacle when trying to eliminate the grass. Even if the above-ground turf is removed, new plants will regenerate from roots, crowns, and nodes on rhizomes left below the soil surface. In flowerbeds, around shrubs, and in vegetable gardens, persistent hoeing or trimming can be effective for removing nuisance bermudagrass.

Another effective approach begins by applying glyphosate (Roundup, Kleenupr) to unwanted bermudagrass. Glyphosate is translocated and will move from leaves into the roots, killing the entire plant. In autumn, bermudagrass begins to translocate a greater proportion of carbohydrates down to the its roots, and during this process a greater dose of the herbicide can also be carried to the roots. Glyphosate is not active in soil and will not move into roots of trees and shrubs; rather, it must enter plants through the foliage. However, it is non-selective which means other plants can be killed if the leaves are accidentally sprayed.

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