Round it Up, Dig it Up or Cover it Up

Grass can be tenacious and return to compete with new plants if it is not eradicated properly.

For all of the talk about grass dying or looking unsightly during drought, it’s surprising how hard it can be to eliminate it when you’re doing it purposely. Grass can be tenacious and return to compete with new plants if it’s not eradicated properly.

Here are three ways to permanently remove grass in preparation for installing your new garden bed through the WaterSaver Landscape Coupon program:

  • Round it up – A contact herbicide containing glyphosate, such as Roundup, is one method for killing grass. Read all label instructions carefully and avoid spraying it on windy days. Remember that these products work best on actively growing grass or plants. Then, let the product take effect for at least a week and observe to determine if a second application is necessary.
  • Dig it up – Using a spade or round nose shovel, dig and remove the sod and at least 1 inch of soil. This is most effective in yards that are easy to dig and do not have tenacious Bermuda. You have the benefit of instant gratification if it’s done well, but you will get a tough workout.
  • Cover it up – There is another method that requires persistence: solarizing. The principle is to eliminate light from the grass area long enough to kill it. A tight application of a tarp over the area for several weeks discourages much of the growth. Newspapers in thick layers (at least six to eight pages deep) can also discourage grass growth. The newspaper, which will decompose over time, should be wet and not allow openings for blades of grass to reach sunlight.

If you have Bermuda on deep soils, you may need a combination of all three.

Laying weed barriers (plastics or fabrics) under mulch is a personal choice. The barrier may prevent grass and weeds from returning, but it must be pinned down properly to be effective and to prevent it from protruding through the mulch.

Once you have killed your grass for good, it’s now time to plant your full sun or partial shade plant package!

Picture of Karen Guz
Karen Guz
Karen grew up taking family vacations to national parks and scenic rivers. A one-time kayak river guide in her home state of Pennsylvania, she got herself to Texas as fast as she could. Now as the vice president of Conservation for SAWS, she is responsible for meeting San Antonio’s long-term water conservation goals by leading a high energy, creative team of conservation planners. She first worked for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service providing a variety of horticulture and 4-H educational programs to the community before joining SAWS in 2000. When she’s not helping San Antonio live up to its reputation as a national leader in water conservation, she enjoys the outdoors as an avid hiker…continuing the tradition of luring the rest of her family to national parks and ranger talks.
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