root bound new garden

Asked March 31, 2020, 3:28 PM EDT

Making a new garden close to the house and the area is root bound with chick weed and wire grass. So much so I cant hardly get a shovel in it. Please help.

Calvert County Maryland

1 Response

If a solid shovel isn't working, you could try using a garden fork (similar to, but sturdier than, a pitchfork). This would be a bit easier to drive into the soil to pry up chunks of weed roots. If physical removal is just not possible, then killing off the existing growth with herbicides is the only other recourse.

Chickweeds come in several forms - some annual, some perennial. Annual plants will be easier to remove with one treatment (or pulling) than perennials, which could re-sprout from root pieces left behind.

Wiregrass is another name used for Bermudagrass, which is a perennial and harder to physically remove due to its running stems.

Each page will mention herbicide options, including a link to active ingredients to look out for. Non-selective herbicides will potentially harm any plants it contacts, so make sure no desirable plants are in the spray zone, or else find a way to shield them.

Once the weeds die back, which will take several days depending on temperature and moisture, they should be easier to remove. Herbicides designed to kill plant roots (systemics) will need time to move down into the roots to work, so avoid pulling up weeds at the first sign of discoloration. To help prevent future infestations, consider mulching the new bed once it's planted (or you can use a vigorous groundcover as a living mulch) to discourage new weed seed germination.