Living with tall fescue; living without Bermuda

I hate Bermuda grass. Given my environmental conscious, I should really love it. But I don’t. I have never been a fan of its creeping habit, nor the way it dies back in the winter, but worse, I don’t like the way the dew looks on it in the mornings. It grows too fast and curls, smells like straw when mowed, and makes noise when I walk through it. I’m sure there are many more reasons for me to hate Bermuda, but this should be enough to give you a good idea.

I love tall fescue. As a treat to my environmental conscious, I love the way it looks when allowed to go through its natural dormancy state during the hot dry summer. I love how good it feels to walk bare foot through this lush green grass – in the fall, winter, and spring. I let my grass go dormant during the summer. This only works though, if it is all one species. When Bermuda gets in with the fescue it looks like a bad patchwork quilt on the back of a sofa that the owner can’t part with because grandma made it.

I have tried various chemicals to rid the Bermuda while preserving the fescue. None have worked to my satisfaction. This August, as I looked at my lawn, I realized more than 75% of my lawn area was Bermuda. It was necessary to kill all the grass and start again. I put my first application of Roundup down on Monday. I will follow-up with another application in 10 days and another in 10 more. Then I will aerate and slit seed 2 weeks after this last application.

I’m not happy that I have to do this, but it had to be done.

It will not be at its best when I open my garden for the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days tour, also benefiting the JCRA in 2009, but it had to be done. My garden this year look wonderful, so hopefully it will next year as well and no one will notice the grass.

I’ve got 2009 all lined up and looking good. It will be another great year. I also have a couple of gardens lined up for 2010!

In today’s N & O was the latest edition of Living in Style Magazine with a short story, but nice spread of this years’ tour. Chris Nelson, the writer, and I spent a day together visiting the gardens and generally having a fine day visiting the gardens.

My tour story will be out in Metro Magazine September 1st.

Helen Yoest (Philbrook)



  1. BierJa said

    Your blog is very interesting.
    I love Your blog.

    Thank you for Articles.

  2. gardensgardens said

    Thank you BierJa! That is very kind of you to say.


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