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I moved house last year and inherited some wonderful established borders. The previous owner spent over 40 years establishing shrubs, perenials & thousands of spring bulbs.

The problem is that in the last 5 - 6 years things got away from him and as well as a large array of invasive weeds, the lawn has grown in over large areas. I don't want to dig as I will disturb the spring bulbs & perenials.

Any suggestions on how I get rid of the grass?

There used to be a couch grass weedkiller. It killed only grass, apparently...? However, I'm not sure there is an alternative to digging. I make sure lawn edges are "hollowed" and clean at the borders but many years ago now I put in concrete edges to prevent grass encroaching into the planted areas. When bulbs are through, ideally going over, can you dig the area then?
Gary Hobson

A weedkiller containing glyphosphate (such as Roundup) is a good way to kill grass over bulbs, provided its applied before the shoots from the bulbs begin to show.

It will not harm any perennials, provided you avoid getting the spray on any green tissue.

The speed at which glyphosphate works does depend on temperature. Glyphosphate will be slower to act in Winter, but it will still work. The manufacturer says that weeds (or grass) need at least 2-4 hours exposure to Roundup, at 8 degrees or above, for it to be ingested into the plant. So best applied on a warm dry day.

Not sure glyphosate works at this time of the year. I believe it needs plants to be actively growing to be effective. Best to use it after bulbs have died down in spring but, again, I would dig over at that time. Lift the bulbs when flowering is over, clean soil and replant

I suspected that would be the case, unfortunatly for me there is about 100 sq. metres of ground to cover!

I did use vinegar on the patio this year as a weedkiller as I am not to fond of chemicals. It worked a treat on everything including horsetail!

I may try a test area with only grass growing & see if this has any impact. Otherwise I will just have to set aside an hour a day once the bulbs are over & get stuck in! I will probably loose some of the the late appearing perenials in the process, but something has to be done.


I understand the problem Briggsy. A friend of mine has grass growing through many of her perennials.....because of grass from her lawn growing into her borders. However. If you lift your perennials in spring....maybe do some over the autumn or winter.....pull out the grass and replant ASAP they will be fine. Indeed, some of your plants may benefit from being split. You can then plant in threes or fives for bigger, better impact. Feed well too in spring. Could be very good. Could be an exciting project?

Thanks, that seems like a sensible suggestion. Timing may be tricky with snow drops to bluebells taking me from early Feb to late May, however I will just have to be selective and if it looks like a patchwork quilt for a while, so be it.


Have you any other ground where you could temporarily plant things?  I'd be carefully lifting and moving things as they appear. It might set things back a bit but they'll get over it and you can get on with the job. It'll all need splitting anyway by now as mentioned above. Experience tells me that glyphosate on weeds amongst plants can lead to disaster.

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