Asked on May 09, 2013

How do I get grass out of a phlox bed?

by Lisa
This flower bed is extremely dense with phlox. Last year, I pulled much of the grass out by the roots, but it came back with a vengence this year. We've had a ton of rain in Virginia. Other than digging up ALL of the phlox, does anyone have any suggestions on how to remove the grass? The phlox is so thick that I can't get to the grass roots.
  23 answers
  • I would like to get some help with this too. The phlox is gorgeous, but the grass growing into it is just terrible.
  • Kay R Kay R on May 09, 2013
    Same problem here too - would love some advice on how to get rid of the grass.
  • Lou B Lou B on May 10, 2013
    It is probably still cool enough in VA, that you could dig up all the phlox, remove the grass, put down newspaper and cardboard, cut holes in paper and replant the phlox, then mulch with a 3 inch depth. You would just have to water every day until they get established. I move plants all the time, just try to get a big root ball when you dig them up. Also, it should be easy to remove any grass in the plant once you have dug them up.
  • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on May 11, 2013
    I think hand-pulling the grass or digging up the phlox then dealing with the grass are the only two options, sad to say.
  • Julie M Julie M on May 11, 2013
    Last spring I tackled the problem with creeping thyme in my lavender. I dug up all the lavender, removed all evidence of weeds and thyme then moved the lavender back. It is beautiful still. Now I have to make sure that I check it all the time to pull up anything that doesn't belong there.
  • JP S JP S on May 11, 2013
    Hand-pull,just after rain-you will be suprised how easy it is-I just finished doing it in my yard-lots of it.
  • Jeanette S Jeanette S on May 11, 2013
    I think it would be easier, faster and help you keep your sanity if you took up the phlox, hoed out this bed and then put down that landscaping cloth. The weeds are rampant this year with all the rain. Luckily, I had taken out some shrub in the fall and sprayed the bed. Left it unplanted through the winter and now am putting back in will be a spring/summer undertaking.
  • Danese D Danese D on May 11, 2013
    same problem......seems to me if you dig up the phlox even with a larger root ball that the grass is being dug up and replanted too..?
  • Tammy@Deja Vue Designs Tammy@Deja Vue Designs on May 11, 2013
    There are products on the market that only kill grasses...leaving other types of plants alone.
    • Ani9430838 Ani9430838 on Apr 24, 2018

      Do you know the names of these products? I have so much grass it is taking away from the beauty of the flox

  • Vicki Vicki on May 11, 2013
    I do have same problems, too for years and years. We tried to dig them and they ended up messed to replant them back in the soil. I am thinking to remove and trash them. Those will be mulch of pine needles. they sure look so pretty to look at. :-(
  • Gail Salminen Gail Salminen on May 11, 2013
    @Lisa I have a similar problem. Have been batteling it for a few years now. Dug up the whole garden and weeded the grass, but it always came back. This is the worst year ever. My decision is to gut the garden - am taking viable plants but pulling all of the grass roots out first and will plant elsewhere. Then I am going to mulch the whole area then use roundup on any grass that turns up. Will be at least a year before I can plant it again, but will set some potted flowers in that bed for this year. Hoping this works, but need to get extremely aggressive for the long term now. Maybe @Douglas Hunt could shed some wisdom on whether this may work.
    • Kelli McGuire Blaser Kelli McGuire Blaser on Sep 17, 2018

      Please please don't use roundup. Not only is it killing all our honey bees but it is hurting us all in the long run. Find a better option. A natural option like the cardboard, mulching talked about by someone on here.

  • My best recommendation is a Weeding Date :) See if your hubby, or a friend will hang out with you... or even help!... while you pull out the grass from the top. Doing it after a rain makes it a lot easier. The root often comes right out. Doing a little section everyday makes it surprisingly do able. I just went out a did mine a little more after reading your post :) Do not give up on this lovely plant!!
  • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on May 12, 2013
    I think your strategy will work, Gail, but why are you going to have to wait a year to plant again and what are you going to do with everything you dug up in the meantime?
    • See 1 previous
    • Gail Salminen Gail Salminen on Apr 28, 2015
      @Douglas Hunt update - have been checking my back garden and there doesn't appear to be any of the grass coming back this year. Will gradually add the perennials back gradually.
  • Tammy@Deja Vue Designs Tammy@Deja Vue Designs on May 12, 2013
    Y'all obviously don't have bermuda grass. Leaving it unplanted here for a year wouldn't be enough. It's like the never ending turf. We just keep spraying ours with Poast or something comparable. I leave my plants in tact...and spray it...I can't imagine why you would want to go to all that trouble.
    • Ani9430838 Ani9430838 on Apr 24, 2018

      Can you tell me where you bought the Poast? I never heard of it What is it exactly? Thanks!

  • Janette Janette on May 12, 2013
    A product called "over the top" kills grass but not plants. There are several other products.
  • Jackie Gandy Jackie Gandy on May 12, 2013
    There is a product called VANTAGE that you can spray over all kinds of flowers shrubs and perennials. I use it on daylilies, iris and monkey grass azaleas, etc . you can spray it over the GRASSES and it will kill, turn yellow and brown and let the roots die and then pull it up. you will have straggles come back and just touch them up when needed,. be sure to0 follow the directions. this only kills grasses.
    • DJ Case DJ Case on May 18, 2020

      I have several bird feeders near mine because it is outside a picture window. Will that harm the birds?

  • Tammy@Deja Vue Designs Tammy@Deja Vue Designs on May 12, 2013
    Yes...."poast" is the name of the one I use....but there are lots of them out there
  • Billie Wilson Billie Wilson on May 12, 2013
    Ortho Grass B Gone. Works great!
    • Ani9430838 Ani9430838 on Apr 24, 2018

      Thank you for the name of this product. I know of Ortho - they have been around for decades. You just saved me and my aching back HOURS of struggle!!!!!

  • JoAnn Cline JoAnn Cline on May 13, 2013
    I have a 'bulb bed' and have the same problem with grass. Thanks for some ideas.
  • Gail Salminen Gail Salminen on May 13, 2013
    @Douglas Hunt I am painstakingly pulling all of the grass roots out of the perennials.- of course that means splitting them into smaller plants. Will be planing in containers in another garden until next year, some to go to others. For plants where it is impossible to tell if the grass roots are not removed, they will be recycled into compost - with the city. I have just gone throught this too many times already only to have the same problem the following spring, therefore will leave fallow for a year and use the round up on anything that pops up.
  • Lisa Lisa on May 16, 2013
    Thanks everyone! I will check out some of these products & let you know.
  • Denise Freeman Denise Freeman on Feb 19, 2015
    Try laying a carpet square over the area you are trying to kill for a week or two not getting sun will stop any growth from under the carpet square then you can start fresh with that area. Plus it's nontoxic to animals. You can pick one up at a Capet store just ask for a sample square most of the time they will just give you one ;)
  • Martha Ollis Martha Ollis on Apr 28, 2015
    Forget the toxic chemicals. After you pull the grass, lay down cardboard or 5 to 10 layers of newspaper around your plants. Soak it down with water and cover with 3 to 5 inches of mulch. This will help to shade out the grass. If you decide to remove everything and start over, make sure to remove grass roots that are entangled with the phlox roots. Then cover the whole bed with the cardboard or paper. Cover with mulch. then put in a layer of goo garden soil and replant your phlox plants. Be sure to mulch around the newly planted plants. Most of the grass will compost into the soil ,improving the soil. If you keep it mulched it will be easier to pull what grass does find its way through. A little mulch each year works wonders.