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I have a flower bed with some ground cover, daffodils, tulips and a few shrubs. Lately grass has been growing pretty much everywhere, including through the ground cover.

I tried an herbicide called "Over the Top" which is supposed to kill grass without harming other plants, but its effects were pretty negligible.

Other than or in addition to pulling it meticulously, what's the best strategy to remove grass from my flower bed and then keep it from coming back?

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As Shane mentions in an answer below, it will be helpful to identify what kind of grass is growing. Controls might be different. –  bstpierre Jun 16 '11 at 2:19
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4 Answers

up vote 14 down vote accepted

Unfortunately, the only effective means I've found of removing it without damaging nearby plants is pulling it up by hand. If it's so overgrown that the roots are intertwined this can be almost impossible. You didn't specify what kind of grass, but from my experience, Bermuda grass is very invasive and will spread like crazy...especially if you have some well tilled flower beds with good soil for it to spread into. Bermuda grass is hard to kill even with Roundup. If you are able to get it out, the best control method is prevention.

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Well, one good way to kill your lawn is to mow it extraordinarily low. The same principle can be applied in a garden to grass or any other weed with garden shears.

If you pester it enough, it may decide to stop growing.

The other option is more mulch.

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Mulch

There are many different ways to mulch.

I would put down several layers of newspaper. You will have to rip up the newspaper as required to get it to fit around the existing plants. Cover over any undesired plants. Then give the newspaper a good soaking to keep it in place.

Then cover over with a thick layer of compost. As this breaks down it will enrich the soil.

Then cover with straw, pineneedles, wood chips or whatever else looks good.

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I saw an episode of Ask This Old House where they were trying to remove long grasses that had grown into juniper shrubs.

Their solution was to use glyphosate (Roundup) to kill the grass, and then to add a steel edging barrier to prevent the grasses from spreading back to where they had removed them.

Glyphosate will kill any vegetation it comes in contact with, so they had the novel idea to use a paint brush to actually paint all the stalks they wanted to remove so as to not coat the existing juniper shrubs. They'd mentioned it may take a couple applications to kill all the grass.

Be sure not to do this on a windy day or some of the glyphosate may still come in contact with plants you'd like to keep.

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