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Removing Bermuda Grass Organically

David is a freelance content writer with a particular interest in entomology, Greenism, tropical fish, corals, cats, and plants.

Work Area (Before)

Work Area (Before)

How to Get Rid of Bermuda Grass

Bermuda Grass is a beautiful and hardy grass that makes an excellent lawn. It is durable and stands up to heavy traffic. It is fairly drought-tolerant, and as a bonus, it loves the heat. As beautiful and durable as Bermuda Grass is, however, it can be the bane of your existence if you wish to remove it.

Removing Bermuda Grass can be difficult because it reproduces and spreads using many different methods. It seeds fairly easily. Bermuda Grass spreads underground by a vigorous system of rhizomes. This hardy plant also spreads by producing runners that creep along the ground. Seeds, rhizomes, and runners must be addressed when removing this grass.

The war on Bermuda Grass is not as quick and decisive as many of us would want it to be. This is a long process that must be fought with sweat and persistence. There are many different methods of removing Bermuda Grass, but the method that I am going to describe below not only works well—it works for the long term.

Tools That Are Needed:

  • Wheelbarrow
  • Shovel
  • Bow Rake
  • Paper Bags (optional)
  • Sifting Screen
  • Garden Gloves
  • Cardboard (optional)
Bermuda Grass (notice the crisp, white rhizomes as runners)

Bermuda Grass (notice the crisp, white rhizomes as runners)

How to Remove Bermuda Grass Without Chemicals

Here is how you can remove this grass without using chemicals.

Step 1: Assemble Tools

To begin the process of removing Bermuda Grass, assemble the tools that you will need.

Step 2: Reveal Primary Root Structure

Using the rake, gently pull back the edges of the Bermuda Grass. This will allow you to see the primary root structure.

Step 3: Dig Around Root Structure

Using the shovel, dig down around the root structure of the Bermuda Grass. Dig around the plant as much as you can. Work from the outside so that you are not cutting the runners off the Bermuda Grass. The fewer little pieces of Bermuda Grass you have, the more likely you are to remove the pest the first time.

Step 4: Gently Remove Grass (Right Down to the Rhizomes)

When the root structure is fairly loose, then grab the plant and pull it up gently. If you shake the plant a little bit at a time, it will separate from the dirt. This will allow you to see the crisp white rhizomes that have burrowed underground. The goal here is to remove as many of the rhizomes as possible. One little tip of a rhizome will grow into the large plant you have just removed. Dig slowly and be methodical as you progress.

Repeat this process until the area you are working in is free of Bermuda Grass. Place the Bermuda Grass that has been dug up, into the paper bags and set them aside for the garbage or yard waste cans.

Step 5: Loosen Soil

Using the shovel, dig up the area you have just worked in again. The goal is to get the soil to be fairly loose.

Step 6: Sift Out Remaining Rhizomes

Place the sifting screen over the wheelbarrow. Use the shovel and load a few shovelfuls of dirt onto the sifting screen. You can either shake the screen, which I do not recommend, or you can use your hands and push the soil back and forth over the screen. The dirt will fall through the screen, leaving any of the larger rhizomes on the screen. Gather up these rhizomes and place them in the paper bag. Repeat the process until the area that was dug up has been thoroughly screened. Dump the soil back into the spot that was dug up.

Screening the Soil

White Bits of Rhizone (will grow into a whole Bermuda Grass clump)

White Bits of Rhizone (will grow into a whole Bermuda Grass clump)

How to Prep the Space

If the area is to remain vacant (free of plants), then place several layers of cardboard down to cover the work area. Cover the cardboard with a heavy coating of wood chips or other ground cover product.

If the area is to be planted, there are two options available. Cover the ground with either cardboard or weed cloth. Cut holes where the plants will be planted and then plant the plants. The second option is just to plant the plants. I would recommend planting the plants without using weed cloth or cardboard. The reason is that as new Bermuda Grass sprouts, it can be easily removed. This is the ongoing part of removing Bermuda Grass.

Because Bermuda Grass spreads by seeds, rhizomes, or runners, removing it requires a few applications. The benefits of following the above procedure are two-fold. First, the screen helps to remove most of the small Bermuda roots, rhizomes and leaves from the soil. The second benefit is also because of the screen. Screening the soil to remove Bermuda Grass allows the soil to be soft. This means that any new growth from the Bermuda Grass can be easily removed.

The method that is described here works really well. This is a time-consuming method, but any war that is waged on Bermuda Grass requires time. This plant is fairly invasive and though it makes some of the most beautiful lawns it can easily become a pest. Removing Bermuda Grass organically is efficient and environmentally safe. The list of items needed is both sustainable and green. I hope that this article helps. I am happy to answer any questions that readers may have.

Ready for Planting

Free of Bermuda Grass and Ready for Planting!

Free of Bermuda Grass and Ready for Planting!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2011 David Stillwell


Jeanne Burke on June 26, 2020:

Does high dosage vinegar kill this grass? I have it (I call it devils grass but it’s probably Bermuda) in my flower bed in the front of my house and since this grass has shown up in my bed it’s a huge battle to remove it and to attempt to plant any perennials or annuals. The grass just takes over. I’ve tried smothering it with cloth barrier, cardboard layering and plastic tarp. Nothing worked.

Also is there any kind of barrier I can use to keep the grass from coming back into the planter from my lawn since my lawn is mostly this grass and it spreads under the brick planter wall into the bed.


Lynn Mahlmeister on June 02, 2017:

Have you tried solarizing (putting down clear plastic right at the soil in the hot months) - does it work? I know bermuda grass loves the heat so not sure how long it would take. I live in Southern California and the stuff is all over the place in our community garden. I am thinking about empty plots and isle ways that would free up our time to get rid of it as it pops up in our own beds.

p baker on November 27, 2016:

Black plastic over the Bermuda worked in Fresno CA

David Moravetz on November 05, 2016:

No experience with Bermuda grass in my gardenI live in southern MI, but a crazy creative idea might be to garden in containers off the ground.

Audrey Howitt from California on March 24, 2012:

Great information! Every year I have battles with it in the back---could you also do a hub on killing ivy?? Please???

David Stillwell (author) from Sacramento, California on December 12, 2011:

The human body is very amazing... we cut our finger and somehow it knows to heal... Yes I think we are capable of curing cancer with our mind and our diets... considering how little of our brains we actually use... It is all about the process... in many things... thank you moving down.

movingon down from Northern California on December 12, 2011:

Your bermuda grass article caught my eye. I used Organic foods to overcome melanoma past 3 years. There is an analogy here. Step by step,a process of eradicating(detoxifying), killing cancers(unwanted stuff),

sweeping it out(enzymes to rid of cancers), then replanting healthy foods into the Immune system. The result: a healthy defensive system against cancers.

What do you think?

ausis from Australia on November 30, 2011:

Man I am stuck reading all your hubs I will have to hire someone to read them for me hehe.. Nah I will get through them one day. Just let me catch up :)

jhosler on October 26, 2011:

I've learn something new here. Great hub.

Derdriu on July 24, 2011:

davenmidtown: I enjoyed reading this hub: it's well presented and well written with clear, helpful images. Also there's a lovely sense of humor in your descriptions of this long battle "fought with sweat and persistence."

Congratulations on Hub of the Day!

Voted up+useful+funny+interesting

MyMastiffPuppies on July 15, 2011:

Excellent info with the step by step guide. I will have to give it a try. I battle with Bermuda grass every year with my flower garden.Voted up, useful, awesome and interesting...

David Stillwell (author) from Sacramento, California on July 15, 2011:

Thank you for the comment. It is difficult to say which of the two plants would have won out against each other. If I had to guess I would say the bamboo would win.

FloraBreenRobison on July 15, 2011:

Talking about the time my family lived in a house, bamboo was everywhere and it was impossible to get rid of it. Good thing it wasn't ugly. We never had any burmuda grass. I wonder which of the two would have won the war.

Congratulaions on being hub of the day.

Paradise7 from Upstate New York on July 15, 2011:

This would work for any persistent pesky plant that has rhizomes, I would imagine.

Here's some I found in Wiki:

Some plants have rhizomes that grow above ground or that lie at the soil surface, including some Iris species, and ferns, whose spreading stems are rhizomes. Plants with underground rhizomes include gingers, bamboo, the Venus Flytrap, Chinese lantern, Western poison-oak,[4] hops, and Alstroemeria, and the weeds Johnson grass, bermuda grass, and purple nut sedge. Rhizomes generally form a single layer, but in Giant Horsetails, can be multi-tiered

tchenruiz from San Francisco Bay Area on July 15, 2011:

Congrats! Great Hub, and great info, specially for a black thumb like me.

Rhoda Talisaysay from Philippines on July 15, 2011:

I am a busy grandma and seldom read "hub of the day" so far but I did read yours. I remember my Mom having trouble getting rid this thing a long time ago...great hub and congrats!

David Stillwell (author) from Sacramento, California on July 15, 2011:

Thank you for the comments. When fighting Bermuda Grass... remember that the journey of a thousand miles beings with a single clump!

Humera Sharif from Faisal Abad on July 15, 2011:

Great hub reaaly your hub is winner of the day

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on July 15, 2011:

Congratulations on your Hub of the Day award! Good job!

So, you are in Sac? We are about an hour south of you, and the pesky plant is a huge problem here. You are right about it growing right through virtually any material--including "weed cloth." I think that so-called weed cloth, a.k.a. "landscaping fabric" is one great scam foisted upon home gardeners. It doesn't stop much for long.

LOL @ the rabbits preferring the carrot tops. Just like a cute little (perverse) ani-pal. ;-)

I appreciate the hard work involved in getting rid of this stuff, but frankly, we have so much of it, if we succeeded in removing it ALL, we'd have no lawn left. We'd need a bulldozer instead of a wheelbarrow. Around here, it's known as 'devil grass' or 'devil weed.'

Great hub--voted up & useful!

JS Matthew from Massachusetts, USA on July 15, 2011:

Congratulations for being the featured Hub of the Day!

This is a great Hub! Very useful and in-depth. Will be voting Up and sharing! Keep up the great work!


David Stillwell (author) from Sacramento, California on July 15, 2011:

Dino: The purpose of this hub is a focus on organic methods. This chemical is not even available in the united states. I grudgingly grant that sometimes chemicals are necessary but I also argue that they should not be the first step in solving a problem.

Dino441 on July 15, 2011:

lejonkung on July 15, 2011:

grats to hub of the day, good information

David Stillwell (author) from Sacramento, California on July 15, 2011:

Thank you all for the comments. It is an honor to have a hub recognized as "hub of the day." I think it is important to look at hard work as an alternative to using chemicals in the garden. NMLady: native choices are usually the best choices to make as those plants are already acclimatized to the environmental forces of where we live. Registerdomains: Bermuda grass has several positive uses. I wish the city of Sacramento would allow us to raise chickens and geese, but they do not. We encourage the wild rabbits to graze but they are typically more interested in the carrot tops then the Bermuda Grass.

registerdomains from India on July 15, 2011:

I grow Bermuda grass for my full garden. its the base. It also have another use. my rabbits and gooses love it. I sometimes use them to clean it a bit when it grow out of proportion.

Congrats for being hub of the day.

NMLady from New Mexico & Arizona on July 15, 2011:

Living in the high desert, this grass doesn't have a chance. We grow a combo of xeriscape native grasses, grama and buffalo grasses. They do well here. We only get about 7" of rain here a year!

If it will grow here and doesn't sting, bite, or prick you we keep it.

RTalloni on July 15, 2011:

Thorough look at taking care of some insidious stuff. Congrats on hub of the day, too!

Suramya.K on July 15, 2011:

Congratulations for the "Hub of the day" title. Your hard work is reflected in your pictures and writing. Good luck!

danielleantosz from Florida on July 15, 2011:

Very nice, well written hub. I love organic and environmentally friendly ideas! And congrats on hub of the day!

Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on July 06, 2011:

Nicely done guide, davenmidtown! I suppose removing Bermuda grass the natural way isn't so hard after all.... though I rather like tsadjatko's flamethrower idea, too ;)

Great photos, useful info, awesome Hub! Thanks so much for writing it.

David Stillwell (author) from Sacramento, California on July 04, 2011:

We used a propane torch once to carve a path. The Bermuda Grass turned yellow, caught on fire and in a week it was back. It was at least fun to use the torch...

The Logician from then to now on on July 04, 2011:

What about a flame thrower - burn it to a crisp

David Stillwell (author) from Sacramento, California on July 03, 2011:

Thank you for the carpet trick. which is a good tip. Bermuda Grass would grow right through it. It grew threw whole bales of hay.

Annie Fenn from Australia on July 03, 2011:

I am guessing Bermuda grass is equivalent to Kikuyu grass here in Australia. It is very difficult to remove and we have used this method but not actually screening the soil, so we need to be going one step further as it mostly comes back. We do have large areas of kikuyu, however. I have been looking out for an old bare innerspring bed to screen large quantities of compost through, so this would be good for screening out kikuyu rhizomes also.

Another useful method is to cover the area with a piece of old carpet, large enough to cover all of the kikuyu and leave it there for several months. It will die off without sunshine but it does take a long time.

Thank you for this very informative and useful hub.