In order to expand our garden, we needed to kill the Bermuda grass and then add raised beds. In this post, I share each step of our project — from killing the Bermuda grass (without chemicals) to deciding what to plant. All the resources we used are listed here too. 

Don’t let fear of Bermuda grass ruining your garden keep you from starting a vegetable garden. Learn how to kill Bermuda grass organically, and add a space for growing vegetables to your yard. 

How to Kill Bermuda Grass Without Chemicals Before Planting a Garden

Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links. See my disclosure policy for more information.

How to kill Bermuda grass before planting a garden: Our backyard makeover in 10 steps

How to Kill Bermuda Grass Without Chemicals Before Planting a Garden
Before
After

Step 1: Make a plan

Decide how much of the Bermuda grass to kill. In our case, we still have children at home who play in the grass so we left an area for them to use. 

Adding a border like this concrete curbing helps designate each space in the yard

This article “10 Tips for Designing Raised Bed Gardens” may help as you make a plan for your new garden space. 

How to Kill Bermuda Grass Without Chemicals Before Planting a Garden

Step 2: Remove Bermuda grass

Once we knew where the new garden area would be, the next step was to kill the existing Bermuda grass. We did this project in the spring while annual rye-grass is growing and the Bermuda grass is dormant. 

Although the roots for Bermuda grass can go more than a foot deep, most of the roots are in the top 6 inches of soil. Removing several inches of the grass will help keep the Bermuda grass under control when it comes out of dormancy this summer. 

Using a sod cutter rented from Home Depot, we cut off the top layer of the Bermuda grass. We then rolled it and gave it to someone who was adding grass to their landscape.

How to Kill Bermuda Grass Without Chemicals Before Planting a Garden
How to Kill Bermuda Grass Without Chemicals Before Planting a Garden

Step 3: Install watering system (part 1)

With the Bermuda grass cleared out, we made a final plan for where we would place the raised beds by cutting weed cloth into the size of the raised beds and arranging them. 

We tried out a couple of different orientations before settling on where we would locate the beds. 

Once we knew exactly where to install the raised beds, it was time to lay the ground work for the irrigation system. Because the area we were using has a sprinkler system, we converted one of the sprinkler heads to a drip system. (The remaining heads were either abandoned or capped off.) From this drip line, we ran a main drip line between where the beds would be and then branched off the main line into each of the raised beds. 

How to Kill Bermuda Grass Without Chemicals Before Planting a Garden
How to Kill Bermuda Grass Without Chemicals Before Planting a Garden
How to Kill Bermuda Grass Without Chemicals Before Planting a Garden

Step 4: Lay landscape fabric to kill the Bermuda grass

Adding landscape fabric on top of the soil as an additional barrier to help kill the Bermuda grass is an important step.

Look for a permeable landscape fabric that will let water, air, and nutrients get to soil, rather than a plastic type that repels water. 

Cut the landscape fabric to size and then hold it in place with landscape staples

How to Kill Bermuda Grass Without Chemicals Before Planting a Garden
How to Kill Bermuda Grass Without Chemicals Before Planting a Garden

Step 5: Add raised bed gardens

We assembled the raised beds and put them in place. I use these Deep Root Cedar Beds from Gardener’s Supply in my garden. Read my review of them here

How to Kill Bermuda Grass Without Chemicals Before Planting a Garden

Step 6: Layer cardboard in beds to kill Bermuda grass

The garden beds and watering grids came in large cardboard boxes which were perfect for layering in the beds as an additional barrier to kill the Bermuda grass

How to Kill Bermuda Grass Without Chemicals Before Planting a Garden

Step 7: Add soil mix to beds

My favorite soil mix for raised beds is a combination of compost, vermiculite, and peat moss

You can read more about “The Best Soil for Raised Bed Vegetable Gardening” in this article. 

How to Kill Bermuda Grass Without Chemicals Before Planting a Garden

Step 8: Add wood chips between the beds

A layer of wood chips on top of the weed cloth between the beds helps keep the Bermuda grass from coming back. The wood chips also give the garden a complete, finished look. 

We used brown wood chips from Home Depot. You can also get wood chips for free from ChipDrop.com

How to Kill Bermuda Grass Without Chemicals Before Planting a Garden

Step 9: Install watering system (part 2)

I attached watering grids from Garden in Minutes to the irrigation lines we fed into each bed. The watering grids provide consistent and even watering, and divide your garden for square foot gardening. Best of all, they are simple to install. Adding a control valve in the line helps control the pressure to each bed. 

How to Kill Bermuda Grass Without Chemicals Before Planting a Garden

Step 10: Plant your garden

The hard work is done, and now for the fun part — planting. Use a planting guide meant for your area, and add seeds and transplants to your new garden. 

I planted roselle hibiscus, sweet potatoes, squash, beans, Malabar spinach, luffa, Armenian cucumbers, tomatillos, zinnias, sunflowers, basil, and more in my new garden beds. 

How to Kill Bermuda Grass Without Chemicals Before Planting a Garden

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2 comments on “How to Kill Bermuda Grass Without Chemicals Before Planting a Garden”

    • Bermuda grass is tough. My areas with weed cloth are Bermuda free. However, any spots that I missed laying cloth down now have Bermuda grass growing in them. I’m going back and layering more weed cloth and cardboard.

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