Landscapers forgot to kill bermuda before tilling it - What now?

LambOfTartarySeptember 23, 2012

This is a very long and convoluted story but I'll try to be brief.

We hired some people to tear out our bermuda grass lawn and xeriscape it. Unfortunately, they forgot or they neglected (can't get their story straight at this point) to spray the lawn with glyphosate (Roundup) before they tilled the whole thing. The result is that now you can see the roots distributed all over the yard. So my questions are...

Question 1: What do we do now to get rid of this bermuda grass? I'm afraid that the only option is to wait for it to grow back, then spray! I've read about solarization, but it's now October in SoCal and I'm afraid it won't be hot/sunny enough to kill anything.

Question 2: There is a lot of he-said she-said back and forth going on with this company. The consultant who originally came out to look at our yard 2 weeks ago is no longer working for them. He wrote up a proposal but they tell me that he never discussed the details of what we wanted fully. What's written on the contract is a "removal of hardscape and plant material on the lower level." He told us he would spray and then dig the grass when it was dead.

When the project was passed on to the new guy, he first told me that they forgot to spray. But then I find out he was planning to put down landscaping fabric, which, in his own words, they only use when they don't spray.

Now I don't know what to believe, but I do know that the old lawn already had landscaping fabric put down and that didn't stop the bermuda grass. I've seen them pull large swaths of the fabric out of the ground still intact and, I think, 5-6 years old. It obviously doesn't work.

I'm not sure they're willing to work with me on this if they're already backsliding about what they were planning to do. Does this sound sketchy to you? Should I fire them or allow them to make good at this point?

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Why would you want them to use Roundup? It's a very toxic pesticide and will affect/kill any planting that you put in that space (not to mention the impact to your health).

The landscape fabric will work... to some degree. But you are right - it is not perfect. You will still have some weeding maintenance to do. I don't think there is a fool-proof option to weed control.

I've used cardboard in the past to smother the weeds. It works well - but the grass does eventually bust through. I've also used the felt landscape fabric and it worked really well. Perhaps you could have them put several layers of the thicker felt weed fabric down?

Here is a link that might be useful: Impacts of Roundup

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 9:23AM
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No political agenda at all in that link or your post. No misinformation there at all.

Lamb - I would at least give them the opportunity to present their plan going forward to address the issue. Get it in writing, with measures for bermuda control. If it doesn't sound like they will do an adequate job, look for someone else.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 9:02PM
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I am not completely thrilled with the idea of using Roundup, but there is no other practical way of getting rid of the old lawn at this point. We don't have to worry about killing any other plants because our yard now is a giant dirt plot (albeit covered in bermuda roots.)

The landscape fabric that was installed previously was a very thick felt and all it did is make the weeding harder. The bermuda root grew in a thick thatch underneath the fabric and you couldn't shovel it out without pulling the fabric up. The roots go several feet deep so even in the best circumstances pulling it is not a productive option.

It is not really about weed control at this point. We want to kill this grass and mulch the yard. I don't want them to install the new plants now in case the bermuda comes up around them, which means we'd either have to shield the plants with plastic and risk killing them when we spray more herbicide, or temporarily transplant them out while we kill the grass.

As far as the landscaping company goes, we are waiting a few weeks to see how much of it we can get to grow back so we can spray it. The lawn has been flooded with liquid fertilizer and gets watered regularly, but so far there have only been a few green bits here and there. I really don't know how long we'll have to wait to see the majority start greening up again. I'm tempted to hire another company to consult.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 11:45PM
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Nothing will hardly kill Bermuda, so you have a tough problem here.

I've put Roundup on it, and it kills the top, but the deep roots and runners survive, and it re-sprouts. It may take several repeat applications to kill it. And if it comes up even in one spot, it will begin to spread like an alien monster. You will need to be vigilant.

Landscape fabric, IMHO, will just give it a cover to run around under, until the runners find holes in the fabric, or the edges of it, and then it'll come up in those spots. Of course you can't pull the roots out effectively when you see it pop up. They will lurk menacingly under there, waiting for you to turn your back and toss that green sprig into the trash, and then they'll commence to put up a replacement.

Based on my own experience, I'm not overstating. This stuff is bad.

PS Roundup degrades quickly after it's used, so I wouldn't worry too much about it. I limit my use of synthetic pesticides, but Bermuda is one of the things worthy of getting out the big guns.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 10:39AM
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