Grass control?

Hello everyone!

I have a small fenced in area in which i grow some blackberries and raspberries. Unfortunately the grass in the area is running rampant. How do most people control grass in areas that you can’t mow?

Thank you!

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Newspaper or cardboard covered with mulch, mulch alone, or landscape fabric covered with mulch or crushed stone or woven landscape fabric alone. Some people use an edging material to prevent grass creep- plastic or metal. Some people use sterile soil within solid raised beds. And then there’s Roundup.

If were doing blackberries I think I would grow them along a trellis similar to a grapevine trellis rather then letting the blackberries spread out in a patch area that is impossible to control the weeds. Then just mow along the trellis. Don’t some folks do just that?

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Grass-B-Gone works … somewhat

I use Clethodim if it’s just grass. There’s various herbicides with that active ingredient.

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AKA Poast. Works like a champ!

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Tons of wood chips. If you don’t have access to such, glass clippings. The latter tends to mat when piled on very thick, which in a sense would prevent anything from growing through it, but it also won’t let water through as well. So wood chips is by far my preferred mulch. If you have plenty of cardboard laying around, start with that before adding whatever on top.

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Try Chipdrop for almost free woodchips or contact local arborists, it there are any.

I often pull out some of the grass by hand. You need to get your fingers underneath the clump, and pull out the stolons. It’s slow, but I find it somewhat satisfying and pleasant to do when the weather is good and I want an excuse to be sitting outdoors.

Other than that, I’ve had pretty good luck with a few layers of newspaper covered with enough mulch to keep it from blowing away. That’s less mulch than you need to hide the ugliness of the newspaper, so I usually plan on enough mulch that I don’t see the newspaper. It works pretty well. After a couple of years grass encroaches again, and I dig it out around the edges and remulch.

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i specificaly will not sow grass because of this problem.

although i might change my mind for the paths that are to frequently walked on to keep anything else growing on. But not frequently enough to not have weeds.

I am gonna try and sow Turf clover
talked about it here

It’s a nitrogen fixer (although in a lower amount then others)
It’s supposed to stay smaller than 6 inches, even without mowing.

It’s more of an experiment. So treat my “info” with that in mind. Or maybe run a small patch as experiment yourself :slight_smile:

That’s what I do

Poast is sethoxydim, not clethodim. Both are grass selective herbicides. Cleth works better than seth IME. I always advise to buy the generic rather than the name brands (sethoxydim instead of Poast, clethodim instead of Select 2EC, etc.)


You are right on the chemistry. I was gifted an almost full 2 1/2 gal jug of Poast. Still works great over the top of my peppers and around trees and any area with broadleaf plants I want to save.

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I’ve used both sethoxydim and clethodim. Clethodim (Dakota) is cheaper by far. The problem is that clethodim has a pretty restrictive label for fruit crops.

It’s labeled fruit tree crops, blueberries and brambles, but there is a one year PHI. I believe we’ve used it around tomatoes before (20 day PHI). Other than that, we’ve only been able to use it on non-bearing trees. It has a fairly wide label for vegetables, as well as cantaloupes, watermelons, and pumkins.

Poast has a much more expanded label for fruits, but it’s almost twice the price and takes twice as much. Still, it works good on most grasses. Because of the labels, we’ve ended up using Poast a lot more than Dakota.

In one sense, these products are far superior to a non-selective herbicide like glyphosate. Namely, I’ve never seen any damage to non-target broad leaf trees or broad leaf plants from these selective herbicides (seth and cleth) whereas a non-select herbicide like glyphosate works very well on grasses, but the potential to damage non-target trees or plants is very high.

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Great point. I didn’t take harvesting into account. I’ve only used cleth and seth to control grasses in clover and wildflower plots.

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Is one more effective for control of perennial grasses like quackgrass? I can never seem to keep it under control.

Honestly, I can’t remember which one works better from experience. I know that rhizome grasses like quackgrass and Johnson grass can be tough to get under control. The only weeds harder to control for me are horse weed, horse nettle and bindweed.

This article from Penn State suggests that cleth is superior to seth for quackgrass.

Thanks for the link! Yeah the only two weeds that I hate more are bindweed and sandbur.

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When I started these Illini Blackberries 18 years ago, I broke up that strip of ground that I planted them in using my tiller. Just worked it up good over a period of a few weeks and added some compost and then planted them. Once planted mulched good with wood chips, pine bark mulch, etc…

I can add more compost on top, late winter, early spring, and another layer of pine bark mulch.
I still have to fight a few weeds that insist on creeping in… but it’s not bad at all.


In you have established grass in your bed, right in with your blackberry canes… as others have said you may need to cover with some cardboard, and then mulch good.

Good Luck with your Blackberries.


Here is another example of a bed that I have going with a deep hay mulch…

I have to refresh the hay layer about twice a year to keep it weed free.

This bed is 90 ft long, 4 ft wide and has a lot of fruit trees and berry bushes growing in it, and some stawberries. When it warms up enough I will plant some peppers, dill, etc in there too.

I am filling in the blank spaces between my fruit trees with mostly raspberries now.

If you use a organic mulch, you will have to refresh it occasionally, weed it occasionally, and pile more on.