Permaculture Tip of the Day – Suppressing Bermuda Grass

suppressing-bermuda-grasses3A permaculture design course will empower you to see that there is no such thing as a true “invasive” species. However, in small plots for vegetation such as kitchen and crop gardens – grasses have been known to be a nuisance. A few years of trial and error, we have found there are some highly desirable methods and approaches for keeping grasses at bay.

  1. Where the future garden plot will be – make sure – repeat – make sure to dig up the grass layer and turn it over. This is usually best done at the end of winter when the grasses are dormant. Also after it has lightly rained to make it a bit easier to dig.
  2. If possible sheet mulch with “two” layers of cardboard or very thick newspapers. Old Carpets are good too as long as they were not heavy laden with cleaning chemicals. (learn more about sheet mulching here).
  3. Straw, as the top layer of sheet mulch, has shown itself to be the best at suppressing invasive grasses compared to woody mulches or leaves.. Highly recommend 8-10″ of straw as the top dressing.
  4. Add a layer of both compost (at 3-6″) and straw (at 8-10″) two weeks before every growing season.
  5. Last and certainly not least, plant comfrey, lemon grasses, and canna lilies as a living barrier between the grasses and and the garden plot.

These steps will greatly benefit a garden plot in weed and grass suppression at it’s genesis. We are currently in the experimentation phase of suppressing grasses on beds that have been poorly sheet mulched and where grasses are taking over – updates coming soon.
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