Removing Burmuda Grass for a New Vegetable Bed [With a Little Help From the Chickens]

Removing Burmuda Grass for a New Vegetable Bed [With a Little Help From the Chickens]

I want to start a new vegetable bed adjacent to our driveway, one of the few areas left in our yard with half day sun. The full sun areas were all taken up by my obsession with fruit trees long ago. The area I plan to use has been sitting pretty much empty ever since I let our Baba raspberry bed die out, back during Southern California’s last major drought. I know I have mentioned it before, but I really hate Bermuda grass. It does have its benefits, like the fact it is drought tolerant, easy to walk and play on, and loved by the tortoise and chickens as a forage. However, there is a reason that one of its common names is Devil’s Grass. If it’s ignored for even a few weeks, it creeps over the lawn edging and into the flower beds very easily. It also sneaks in through the drainage holes in the block wall from the neighbors’ houses and invades the non grassy areas.

There are lots of helpful tips on how to deal with or remove Bermuda grass at UCANR Intergrated Pest Managemnet. Round up or other Glyphosate based herbicides are probably the easiest to rid large areas of it, but it normally takes multiple applications while it is activitely growing to completely eradicate the grass. Anyway, as an organic gardener, Glyphosate is not an option for me, especially since it is in a part of the yard that the pets frequent. Other recommended methods are solarizing it under plastic or covering it with cardboard or weed barrier fabric topped with mulch. In my personal experience, those were not completely effective, especially in areas that don’t get full sun. I also hate weed barrier fabric.

Burmuda grass and pets is Round Up safe
The animals seem to want to hang around while I dig up the area I plan to convert to a veggie bed. The company is nice to have around, eventhough they make a mess of it, especially the dog with his digging.

When we first bought our house in 1998, the yard was almost entirely burmuda grass and weeds. Over the years, I have removed a lot of grass to make room for a vegetable garden, numberous fruit trees, and flower beds. The few times I tried other grass removal methods, most were only temporary or incomplete solutions that I had to eventually go back and dig out the remainder. The weed barrier fabric is a whole different problem. Now a days, I just dig out Bermuda grass and keep an eye out for any new sprouts that I may have missed or seeds that recently germinated, and repeat as needed.

Over this past week, in the late afternoons when the area was been in the shade, I sat down and slowly began to dig out and sift the grass and dirt to about 10 inches down, a shovel full at a time. An area about 3 x 3 takes me around two hours to carefully pick out every bit of root and rhizome. Althought it has been tedious, my activity has caught the attention of the chickens. Most of the time Miss Frizzle stands close by watching, scratching, and waiting for me to find a grub or click bug larva for her. As the top hen, she makes sure she gets most of them. Buffy has been working along side her, scratching away looking for bugs of her own. Hei Hei, the Black Silkie, usually just watches from a short distance nibbling on grass and trying to avoid getting in the way of the other two hens. Corgie likes to dig in the area too, but not while I am around. Tiger lily, the tortoise, has even stopped by to check on what I am up to over on her favorite patch of grass. Unfortunately, she will have to settle for graizing on other parts of the yard, at least for a few seasons until I get tired of veggie gardening again and probably plant yet another fruit tree in the spot.

Based on the size of the area and how slowly I am working, I am hoping to be done by the middle of this coming week. I need to keep at it daily because with all the heat we just had, the vegetable seeds have already sprouted in their cell packs and plants like zucchini and cucumbers don’t really like being transplanted from cell packs to begin with.

disease resistant varieties vegetables with powdery mildew tolerance
The newly sprouted seedlings are on the table, waiting out of the reach of chickens and slugs. Half of these are veggies and the other half are my heat loving summer and fall blooming flowers that I start from seed. The vegetables include cucumber, beans, and zucchini. The flowers are a ‘Sriracha Rose’ / ‘Bat Faced’ cuphea seedlings, ‘green envy’ and purple zinnias, ‘Torch’ Tithonia, gaillardia, and nicotiana.
The larger quart size pots at the bottom of the photo have Diospyros kaki seedlings that I hope to use for persimmon rootstocks. I started them back in the late fall in a handful of damp potting soil in a baggie in the fridge. They took about 30 days to sprout once I potted them up in late March.

While working on the boring grass removal project, I actually have been enjoying listening to my favorite garden podcast, the Davis Garden Show. I am not sure which garden media I like bingeing more, Gardeners World television show with Monty Don out of the UK or listening to the Davis Garden Show. Hmm. Its probably the podcast because I can listen while I do my own gardening projects. I was so happy they decided to continue to record new shows, since I am almost through the majority of the old shows. I started listening about three years ago. It is great for long car rides alone or dull projects like this one. Current and old episodes, up to ten years back, of the podcasts can be found at KDRT or at the Davis Garden Show website. The Davis Garden show website lists the main topics of each show, but it takes longer to load that the KDRT link.

What is the best way to remove Bermuda grass in your experience? I would love to hear about it. I hope you enjoy some time in your garden today, too. Thank you for stopping by to visit.

3 thoughts on “Removing Burmuda Grass for a New Vegetable Bed [With a Little Help From the Chickens]

  1. The area beside our driveway is the ONLY place in our yard that gets full sun, due to some good-sized trees front and back. I want to plant fruit trees there, espaliered, but I keep procrastinating due to the hard work of digging out the grass. So nice you had some great company for your job! You are inspiring me to get that job started. ~ Donna

I would love to know what you think about this.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.