Joel In The Garden

How to keep grass out of your flower beds

How to keep grass out of your flower beds

Watch Joel in the Garden on KMTR NewsSource16 at 6 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Thursdays

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. — Plastic forks in her flower bed keep the cats away.

But so far, Letha Jaennette has no fix for nagging grass in her flower bed.

“We've pulled it thinking we'd get the roots out, which we don't. It kind of breaks off the tops of it so it comes right back. This year's been the worst year,” Jaennette said.

After trying several home remedies and pulling the grass, Jaennette says she just can't seem to get to the root of the problem. But experts say she's battling a formidable foe when it comes to invasive grass.

“They spread from seed and they spread from rhizome. And they'll take advantage of any space that's left available to them,” said Adam Cole. Cole is a garden purchaser for Down to Earth in Eugene. 

Jaennette said herbicides are a last resort, since she doesn't want to damage her bulbs. But there are other products that will keep the grass away.

“You can also use methods, such as a weed torch, where you burn out the grass and try as hard as you can not to touch the bulbs,” Cole said.

Cole said a mesh or fabric will block any weeds or grass, provided you know where each bulb is planted so you can leave an opening.

Corn gluten is another preventive step.

“So if you can removed grass from the area that you're trying to keep clean, then corn gluten will keep, during the seeding season, the grass from germinating,” Cole said.

Fortunately, at this time of year, many flowers are starting to go dormant, which means if you lay a mulch bed or if you decide to go after the grass and weeds by hand, you're unlikely to damage the bulbs.

“Even if you're deadheading them, topping them or digging them up, they can handle a long winter being redistributed back into the soil,” Ryan Brey said. Brey is a manager at the Constant Gardener store in Springfield. 

Unfortunately for Jaennette, eradicating this grass means either getting down and dirty or covering the bed with mulch to deprive it from sunlight. For mulch, Brey recommends using birch or maple leaves, which are non-acidic compared to pine needles which may affect the pH level in your soil.