how to remove couch grass from garden beds

how to remove couch grass from garden beds

Article by David Marks Sofa grass (Latin title Elymus repens) is a fast rising, invasive kind of grass which seems to contribute nothing to the general look or productiveness of a backyard or allotment. One other generally used title for this weed is Twitch Grass. It’s a ache within the neck in your backyard and mine, nothing extra, nothing much less.

This text explains a number of strategies, natural and chemical, for eradicating and eradicating sofa grass. Use the navigation field under to skip to the part most necessary to you if you do not have time to learn your entire article.

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Some background details about how sofa grass grows and the circumstances it prefers is all the time helpful in preventing such a strong weed.

Though sofa grass is taken into account a weed by UK gardeners and allotment holders it does even have a use in some circumstances! Firstly, in some elements of the world sofa grass is inspired as a result of it’s a major supply of meals for cattle and different animals. Its second most typical use is to bind soil collectively to stop erosion by wind and water.

Sofa grass arrives in your backyard or allotment initially by two means. By far the commonest is thru small root elements within the soil of vegetation that are transferred to your backyard.

The second is via seeds. Insignificant flowers are produced in July / August time and these type seeds which may be unfold by wind, water and carried on wildlife similar to birds. As soon as it arrives in your backyard nevertheless, neglect about it spreading by way of seeds, it’s the roots which allow it to colonise giant areas shortly.

Seeds of couch grass Sofa grass seeds

When a root establishes, it ship up grass stems, usually each 5 to 10cm alongside the foundation. The grass stems take in vitality from the solar which permit the roots to develop additional. The roots retailer unusually giant quantities of vitality and so they can proceed to develop and survive for lengthy intervals of time with out vitality from the solar. Ultimately they’ll die if they don’t obtain sunshine.


Due to its capacity to start development early within the season sofa grass can smother different vegetation earlier than temperatures are excessive sufficient to determine themselves at first of the season. This weed additionally absorbs giant quantities of vitamins from the soil making it tough for different vegetation to develop effectively.

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Sofa grass roots additionally secrete acids and different phytotoxins (poisons for different vegetation) which cut back the power of surrounding vegetation to soak up vitamins from the soil. This has a direct influence for gardeners not solely when the grass is rising but in addition when it’s killed (slightly than eliminated) by herbicides or excluding gentle. The explanation for that is that, because the roots of Sofa Grass decompose, they nonetheless secrete phytotoxins which might harm new vegetation.

Little or no conclusive analysis has been carried out on how lengthy these phytotoxins stay within the soil after sofa grass has been killed. Our investigations recommend that the bottom is partially “toxic” to new vegetation for a month or so after sofa grass is killed. The perfect analysis we might discover was this doc right here.

The options we suggest under to eradicating sofa grass are primarily based on three conditions:

  1. The place this weed has established itself amongst different cultivated vegetation, that is the standard state of affairs in a UK backyard.
  2. The place the weed has established itself on a patch of land that’s uncultivated. This can be a typical state of affairs for a brand new allotment or patch of land that has not been cultivated for a while.
  3. The place sofa grass has taken maintain of an present garden space.

Whichever of the strategies you employ under just be sure you dig a trench across the handled space about about 45cm large and 15cm deep. This can help you see any roots crossing from the untreated space to the handled space and simply take away them.


Herbicides are backyard chemical substances designed to kill vegetation, similar to Sofa Grass, which produce inexperienced development above floor. The simplest herbicides (by a really giant measure) out there to newbie gardeners within the UK for killing grass have the important thing chemical ingredient glyphosate. This chemical is extraordinarily environment friendly for killing grasses nevertheless it additionally has some potential disadvantages that are:

  • A big proportion of individuals imagine or suspect that glyphosate damages the atmosphere, wildlife and people. This a factual article so we can’t focus on this topic right here, simply bear in mind that considerations do exist. To analyze additional merely kind in one thing like “glyphosate poison” into your favorite search engine and analysis away. For individuals who need a place to begin for analysis on this topic do this article right here. It has plenty of hyperlinks within the textual content that will help you widen the analysis you do that analysis, weigh it up with the implications of not utilizing a chemical similar to glyphosate. There are implications and also you want to pay attention to them in addition to the doable issues.
  • It damages or kills virtually all vegetation it touches the place they’ve inexperienced leafy development. This isn’t a selective herbicide, it kills or damages vegetation indiscriminately.
  • Apart from small areas, the popular technique of making use of this herbicide is by spraying. Even the slightest quantity of wind may cause the spray to float a number of metres inflicting harm to close by vegetation the place none is meant.

If this technique of killing glyphosate is for use on giant areas we recommend that it’s best when the next technique is used:

  • If the world accommodates weeds taller than 5cm / 2in, use a strimmer to clear the world of many of the prime development. Rake away the strimmed prime development to completely expose the weeds to daylight. This job is finest performed in April time for efficient management of Sofa Grass. It’ll stimulate the grass into most development mode.
  • Wait for 2 weeks to let the grass type new development. Then spray with the herbicide following the directions on the packet or bottle. This contains solely spraying when the bottom is comparatively dry and no rain is forecast for twenty-four hours or extra.
  • Depart the world alone for 3 weeks for the results to be seen. If some weeds are nonetheless current undamaged, re-spray these surviving


The place medium to giant areas of floor, similar to an allotment or the tip of a backyard, are over-run with sofa grass and different weeds this technique works effectively with minimal effort though it’ll take a season to utterly clear floor.

It’s usually used together with the “dig it out” technique within the subsequent part. One patch of weeds is smothered and one other space, required in a shorter time, is dug.

Smothering sofa grass and different weeds works on the premise that if all gentle is prevented from reaching them, they’ll die. For finest outcomes, cowl the weeds for 9 months to a yr. Plenty of materials can be utilized to cowl the weeds, the commonest are listed under:

  1. Weed suppressing material purchased on-line (the most cost effective supply) or at your native backyard centre / diy retailer. It’s usually bought in two weights, 50g and 100g. The heavier the fabric, the extra sturdy it’s. Nevertheless for many makes use of, 50g weight is greater than satisfactory.

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    If the weeds are a lot taller than 5cm / 2in excessive, strim them first to permit the material to sit down evenly on the floor. Rake away the strimmed weeds after which lay the material on the highest. The material might want to held in place to cease it blowing away. Stones or unfastened earth are perfect for this objective.

  2. Black plastic is a less expensive various to purpose-made weed material nevertheless it has disadvantages. Black plastic (as an illustration giant black bin luggage) additionally exclude gentle however weeds can, and sometimes do, break open the plastic and develop by way of. In addition they blow away simply when the floor is damaged.
  3. Carpets are typically used to exclude gentle however make sure to not used foam backed carpets. The froth will break up after a month or so leaving a non-biodegradable mess. Many allotment societies forbid their use. Additionally, you will have to retailer or eliminate them after use and carpets don’t retailer simply or neatly in small areas.

When the weed suppressant has killed the weeds it may be saved away for later use and the bottom may be dug and cultivated as regular.


That is probably the most labour intensive approach to clear a medium to giant sized space of sofa grass and / or different weeds. It includes digging the world to a depth of about 15cm to 20cm (6in to 8in) deep with a fork. As you dig, break up the soil and the roots of sofa grass (and most different weeds) may be eliminated.

This would possibly not do away with 100% of the weeds as a result of some will inevitably be ignored however if you happen to preserve an eye fixed out for re-appearing weeds over the following month or so then they will simply be pulled out, principally intact, from the freshly dug floor.

The draw back is in fact the hassle concerned however it is advisable think about that, no matter technique you employ, the bottom will nonetheless have to be dug at some stage earlier than planting crops or decorative flowers. The additional effort of eradicating the sofa grass roots throughout digging is, in our opinion vastly over-stated. Additionally, you will find yourself with soil of a wonderful texture.


In all probability probably the most tough state of affairs with Sofa Grass is the place it has invaded an space already containing decorative vegetation or greens. Clearly, on this state of affairs spraying with chemical substances isn’t an choice as a result of, nevertheless cautious you’re, overspray can even kill present vegetation.

Our recommended technique is to first fastidiously lower away any grass foliage above floor. Then use a trowel to softly dig across the vegetation and take away as many grass roots as you may with out damaging the roots of present vegetation.

Lastly and most significantly, then use weed-suppressant material or black plastic to cowl the world. Reduce holes or slits within the material to permit it to go across the stems of vegetation as close to as doable. The weed-suppressant material may be left in place in place indefinitely as a result of it’s designed to permit rainfall to cross by way of to the soil under. Maintain it in place (and disguise it) with a skinny layer of soil.

Should you use black plastic to cowl the bottom round vegetation you should definitely pierce it in plenty of locations to permit moisture to sink into the bottom under. This can inevitably permit grass stems to re-appear however they need to then be eliminated by hand.


Beneath is an inventory of information of information about sofa grass that are in all probability ineffective, however who is aware of, they might could open up a weak level within the development cycle of this weed to you that others haven’t noticed.

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  • Elymus repens is a perennial plant with a lifespan that’s restricted solely by surrounding circumstances
  • The roots are usually shallow however can go down so far as 20cm / 8in.
  • The roots can run underground so far as 60cm / 2ft earlier than sending up a shoot. A lot additional than 60cm from an present shoot and so they have a tendency to surrender and focus development in a distinct course.
  • Elymus repens is native to Europe and Western / central Asia. It has unfold to virtually all elements of the world the place cultivated vegetation exist.
  • It could develop in virtually circumstances, moist, dry, alkaline and acid soils, salty areas included. It fails solely in full shade.
  • Progress of the plant happens throughout the vary 2°C to 35°C (36°F to 95°F). New shoots above or close to floor degree may be killed by frost.
  • The perfect temperatures for speedy development are 19°C to 25°C (67°F to 78°F) though do not underestimate its capacity to develop 10 levels both means of this vary.
  • Spring development begins earlier for Sofa Grass in comparison with most different grasses, greens and decorative vegetation.
  • The place land is completely grazed by animals similar to sheep, cows and many others., sofa grass fails to determine.
  • Flowers and seeds are produced from mid June to mid August relying on native climate circumstances within the UK.
  • When established, the plant spreads principally by way of roots (known as rhizomes) quickly rising sideways. Seeds are a secondary technique of the plant spreading itself.
  • Elymus repens is self-sterile which implies every plant requires one other sofa grass plant to supply flowers (and subsequently seeds). That is one cause for the minimal manufacturing of seeds.
  • Seeds can stay dormant within the soil for 3 years.