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Bolo: Spring Garden Enemies

Natural Landscaping


Frost Heave

If you plant plugs in the fall, check for Frost Heave. When you survey your Pollinator Garden, please be on the lookout for frost heave. This is when the wild temps freeze and thaw, contract and expand the soil, and can leave the roots of young plants exposed. Look for plants slightly above the regular soil line. Pushing them back in sometimes works, but it's better to have a hand trowel to help them get their roots totally re-covered with soil. A little watering doesn't hurt also.


The soil is wet and it's warm. The water in the soil freezes. Water expands when it turns to ice. Then it thaws. Then it freezes again. On and on it goes. These contractions and expansions of the water in the soil cause the plants to be pushed upward, leaving their poor little roots hanging out in the air, where they don't want to be of course. Plants cannot survive long with their roots hanging out in the air.

Wire Grass, How to Control it


Next to the poison ivy, Wire Grass is probably the single most insidious weed we’ve got. Botanically speaking – wire grass is an uncultivated form of Bermuda grass – metaphorically speaking – this stuff is the devil!

It grows right under garden edging. It grows right over landscape paper, mulch, gravel, sidewalks, and forgotten rakes. It even twines up into shrubs, where it reaches out to wave and laugh at you as you walk by. The roots are so deep that when you try to pull it, they break. And just when you think you’ve got wire grass under control, it releases seeds that fly into all the areas you just weeded.


Back in the heyday of tobacco farmers didn’t mess around with wire grass – they would patrol their hundred-acre fields and hand dig every tiny sprout. They wouldn’t dare allow even one patch to take hold.

It’s one of those weeds that doesn’t respond very well to “cultural practices,” meaning that if you want to be rid of it, you’re going to need an approach just one step shy of nuclear annihilation. Wire grass has to be tracked down and either completely killed or completely removed, and that’s likely to need doing more than once.

Like other forms of Bermuda grass, wire grass turns brown during the winter, so you can easily spot the telltale patches in a fescue or bluegrass lawn. If you’re planning to dig wire grass up, it’s best to do it while it’s brown and dormant.

Here are some tips on controlling wire grass in your yard:

Digging: To pull or dig wire grass, you’ll need to go several inches deep, to make sure you get ALL of the rhizomes. Wire grass grows up to a foot deep, so be sure you get it all, especially if you’re coming back with expensive sod on top!

Solarization: For new gardens and flower beds, solarization can help give you a blank slate. Solarization involves covering the bed with clear plastic during the heat of summer, and leaving it covered for about six weeks to allow the sun to fry everything that’s growing underneath.

Raised Beds: If wire grass is a big problem where you live, We recommend not messing around. Plant in raised beds with edges at least 6″ to 8″ above ground level, and line the bed with two crisscrossed layers of landscape fabric before adding dirt. Dig up every blade of wire grass that sprouts inside the bed, as soon as you spot it.

Lawn Edging: To keep wire grass out of flower beds, edgings should be several inches above ground and buried several inches deep to help stop underground roots. Even with edging, you’ll need to keep an eye out for stray sprouts growing over or under the edging, as well as seedlings.

Mulch: Don’t mulch wire grass clippings – you don’t want to spread the seeds around.

It’s not a bad looking grass if you can keep it out of your flower beds. Wire grass is one of those plants that you can either live with or fight with. But if you’re willing to take an aggressive approach and stick with it, it’s possible to keep wire grass at bay. Wiregrass isn't something that just sits there. It aggressively sends long lateral shoots out in all directions, rooting at each intersection (node) to make - yep - another plant. And another. And another. It goes deep as well as sideways! You’ve got to stay on top of it.

[ Source: Today’s Homeowner with Danny Lipford ]

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