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How to Kill Bermuda Grass Without Chemicals Before Planting a Garden

To expand our garden, we needed to kill the Bermuda grass and 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 the 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 in your yard. 


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

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How to remove Bermuda grass without chemicals 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

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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 groundwork for the irrigation system. Because our area 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 thick layer of wood chips on top of the weed cloth between the beds helps keep the Bermuda grass from returning. 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.comI’m currently using the wood chip mulch from Arizona Worm Farm in my garden and garden beds.

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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If this post about how to kill Bermuda grass was helpful, please share it:


Angela

Tuesday 5th of March 2024

Hi Angela, Love your site and how you explain everything with photos to easily follow along. I have a garden area where burmuda has crept in. I now put down weed barrier and cardboard and used concrete blocks for beds, is one level of blocks 12" high enough to fill with soil or should I go 2 levels high? Thanks for any help you can offer! Angela

Angela Judd

Thursday 7th of March 2024

One level is ok, two would be better. Yes, weed cloth is a must if you are planting over Bermuda unfortunately.

Bonnie

Monday 12th of June 2023

Hi Angela, I am in the process of killing off my Bermuda so I can put in my first raised bed to grow my first veggies and herbs. Gardening has always taught me patience, but this time I'm chomping at the bit to get going! I was not able to remove several inches of the Bermuda due to physical limitations. It is nearly all dead and I am wondering if laying down weed cloth will be enough to kill off the very small amount that is still trying. Life finds a way, doesn't it? :)

Angela Judd

Tuesday 13th of June 2023

If the Bermuda isn't thriving, weed cloth should be plenty. Best of luck to you!

Michael

Monday 3rd of April 2023

How has this held up years later? Any break through Bermuda into the garden space?

Angela Judd

Tuesday 4th of April 2023

It's been great - the first year I had a couple places come through where there were gaps in the weed cloth. Now if I come across the weed cloth in areas I pull it up - no need anymore. No Bermuda in the beds at all.

Joyce Pendleton

Monday 19th of September 2022

This is great! Very helpful. Thanks for sharing the steps both with pictures and wording. I do best when I can "see", on that note "seeing" your new shade a few weeks ago helped me to design mine similarly. Found someone to help us with the metal poles, but with my HOA I couldn't go as high as yours. The pictures of the steps has my husband on the right path for final instal. Again, THANK YOU!

Angela Judd

Monday 19th of September 2022

Wonderful! So glad it was helpful. Best of luck with your garden.

Tosin

Monday 23rd of August 2021

I’m not a fan of weed cloth. I prefer using just the cardboard even though it MIGHT need to be redone after a number of years. We are currently struggling with a large property covered in weed cloth that is now tangled with vinca, weeds, and tree and shrub roots. It’s terribly hard to pull up! That said, since you ended up covered your whole area, why did you cut the cloth into pieces under the planting beds instead of just laying it down as solid sheets across the whole area, overlapping each section a bit?

Angela Judd

Monday 23rd of August 2021

Good point about the weed cloth. It's hard to come up with that much cardboard at times. As far as cutting it - I also used the cut weed cloth to finalize my design. I wanted to play around with placement and weed cloth was an easy way to do that without moving heavy beds around.