More Front Bed Work

We had limited time to work today, owing to a social engagement and my need to return to school, so we tackled the front bed where Bermuda grass has grown thick and nasty for a very long time.

We started with this:

Front bed before

And an hour later we had this:

Front bed after

There's still a lot of work to be done, but it didn't go as painfully slow as I expected. I have some more natives I want to plant up there, and I'd like to put in the little retaining wall in front of the roses this summer. But for now, this is good.

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posted by ayse on 05/29/06


I think the tools you have are more suited to getting out a weed or two here and there. What the photo shows I would go at with a flat-ended shovel and just take an inch of soil or so off the whole area. The bermuda will regrow, of course, but this does give you space to mulch over the area and then put in natives as you wish.

We were using a flat spade and a pointed-end builder's shovel (that's what Noel's using in the top photo). We took about 2-3 inches of the top off, which was largely a mass of Bermuda grass roots and chunks of brick, then sifted the whole lot.

My other approach to the front beds has been to use a mattock or adze to rip the masses of roots out. But because this part of the yard is slightly higher than the sidewalk, and I want it level, we were removing soil as well as weeds.

That makes sense then. I couldn't see from the photos what the tool was and I had read the entry on the neat implements for weeding you have.

What sort of retaining wall/grade separation were you thinking about? You could easily put in a foot high wall or so.

The power of suggestion :)

The grade difference is only about six inches (there's a step just inside the arbor that we're bringing the rest of the up to). I was thinking a very very simple cast concrete wall, because it will laregly be hidden behind plants. Lots of older houses have them around here, mostly not original, but that doesn't concern me.

I looked into wall systems with concrete blocks, but all of them look terrible. And I briefly considered a brick wall, but got over that fast enough.

Smothering is my favorite technique for getting rid of a layer of ugliness like your Bermuda grass. Layers of newspaper covered with layers of mulch. Plant a few perennials through it if you like. And just wait for the business underneath to die.

It wasn't pretty but I smothered everything offensive in my front yard--vinca, grass, vinca.

Someday I should post photos from when we lived in Berkeley and I tried to kill the Bermuda grass out front by smothering it with plastic and weights. For three months it grew huge and strong under the plastic. When I finally lifted the plastic it was terrifying. And it most definitely wasn't dead.

Bermuda grass can grow through concrete. Even the Berkeley Extension, usually a bunch of hippies about herbicides, say to use Roundup on it. I compromise by digging it out where there's lots of it and using micro-applications of Roundup as needed.

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