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getting rid of the bermuda - 6mil plastic - garden on top of the plastic

elapsed time 1 year


remove the soil - cut the plastic

elapsed time : 15min


peel back the plastic - no bermuda to be found!


fork the native soil - lift and replace - no turning!


complete - remember ... no turning!

elapsed time : 30min

apply 12" of composted organic matter - let the chickens help!

elapsed time : 45min

apply mulch ... 4" of organic material (straw + leaves)


completed prep - its getting dark ... time for a shower!

elapsed time : 1hr + (1 year to get rid of the bermuda)

Views: 292


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Comment by Torrie B on March 25, 2013 at 5:38pm
There's hope in building soil AND eradicating Bermuda?!?! I am in!!! This technique feels intuitive to me for some reason. Happy to see all that dark, rich soil. Thanks :)
Comment by Heather Green on March 15, 2013 at 12:32pm

Nice, I'm not sure if I have room for that, but I will investigate.  I remember you mentioning the benefits of filtered light using desert trees.

Comment by bryanwhitebeyondthekitchengarden on March 15, 2013 at 12:16pm

try incorporating several native mesquite (thornless hybrids available) - they can act as nurse trees to your more productive non-natives as they grow ... help to fix soil bound nitrogen / provide wind breaks / produce mulch + biomass / provide shade / are self-regenerative ... they establish and grow super fast, are low water users ... then at year 5/7 you can remove them (chip+mulch with them) ... in favor of the non-natives ... this works very well at jump starting ecological functions / systems ...

this photo has mesquites placed around + are supporting a more traditional food / fruit orchard ... these mesquites were planted a year after the fruit trees and are already 2X the size of the fruit trees ... not to mention that we shear off 18" of vegetative matter four times during the summer in a 'chop + drop serface mulch' scenario ...

Comment by Heather Green on March 15, 2013 at 11:48am

Very cool. I'm trying to produce a shade canopy, but the trees are growing too slow. Maybe in a few years...

Comment by bryanwhitebeyondthekitchengarden on March 15, 2013 at 11:28am

Your right on, about yearly / bi-yearly re-application of sheet mulch ... it also helps to have a developing tree canopy to help shade out the bermuda at 2 levels: ground level (sheet mulching) and sun shade (tree canopy) ... a 2 pronged, long term approach ...

re: soil degradation - probably a fair bit of life 'transitions' (dies and shifts) ... we are creating a new anaerobic decomposition condition under the plastic in order to remove the bermuda from the future intensive veg beds without chemical means (priority #1) ...

... on top of the plastic we are 'building' an aerobic soil for the same time period we are removing the bermuda (stacking functions, literally) ...

for example: we were surprised to find the productive 'worm nurseries' located on top of the plastic layer (a hyper moist condition) ... we have later observed that worms will adapt even to fully aquatic environments (aquaponic systems + ponds) ... we are assuming these critters are finding their way into the 'above plastic' soil to the right as well as back into the 'native' soil of the edge of the plastic to the left ... and ultimately back into the native (bermuda-less) soil under the plastic when the 2 systems are 're-aquainted' a year or so later as described in the original post above ... you can see the '12" of organic matter' being re-incorporated (its the same soil that was on top of the plastic) ... so yes, we are killing bermuda grass while at the same time building soil ... all in the same time + space ...

Comment by Heather Green on March 15, 2013 at 8:50am

I made a bed in my front yard, and I'm making one in my backyard, smothering the Bermuda with cardboard and paper bags. So far it's working well, though I still have to manually yank it as it comes through, but it has slowed it down significantly. I have a feeling I will have to layer more paper and more soil as the season continues.

One benefit I have found with the cardboard and the paper method is worms love it. I can stick a little shovel just about anywhere in the established beds, and I will find some gross looking fat worms.

When you use plastic, as you have done, does that not solarize and virtually leave the soil sterile? I've heard good and bad things, so I am curious. I haven't tried it myself. 

Comment by bryanwhitebeyondthekitchengarden on March 15, 2013 at 3:51am

we dont spend a lot of active hours fussing / worrying about bermuda ... the bermuda attempts to constantly engage this bed ... we have been keeping it at bay for five years now ... not too big of chore considering there is over 100' of this linear edge condition ... we have applied a 5' wide pathway of plastic and woodchips along the grass edge shown above and have sheet mulched the other perimeter edge to the property line in order to discourage bermuda growth from the neighboring bermuda lawn ...

we chase about 10' stretches of bermuda out of the side yard this way each year ... along with building soil ...

Comment by Heather Green on March 14, 2013 at 3:25pm

Gosh.. I'd be worried it will spread and be back in 1 week. Lol! Dang Bermuda.

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