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 before planting a garden: Our backyard makeover in 10 steps
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.
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.
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.
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.
Step 7: Add soil mix to beds
You can read more about “The Best Soil for Raised Bed Vegetable Gardening” in this article.
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.
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.
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.