Couch grass wars


Yesterday – Monday – the forecast was vile, but it also proved to be completely wrong.

primrose and ginkgo

So though both P and I started off gardening in 85 layers of clothing, they were gradually removed – until something more sensible was reached, cough, not until we were gardening naked. That would not have gone down well with anyone, even the Hell Hound of Harlech (who was being particularly hellish and had to be muzzled to stop her barking at the builders next door). But, boy, did we achieve lots!

Just as well, because the garden is open for the Garden Club in July. Not sure why I agreed to that, but hey. It’s good to focus the mind. There’s lots to do.

We got the windbreak up around the veg patch – a much more reliable sign of spring than the first fritillaries,


and then we launched ourselves at something that’s been an issue for several years and consciously avoided for the last three.

Couch grass.

I know, I know, everyone has couchbloodygrass. But I have one bed that it particularly infests, and it’s slap in front of the house. I’ve been trying to find some ‘before’ pics in the archive, but there aren’t any because the bed was such a disgrace. Time for radical action. And for the remaining gravel… (and for temporarily abandoning organic principles, but cough, cough).

I dug out the plants I wanted to keep and potted them up in autumn. Then I threw them away because cough grass came up in the pots. I took cuttings, most of which died because by then it was a bit too late. Then I lost my temper, and bought chemicals. So yesterday we treated what remained, carefully trimming back the wall-growing potentilla and pulling the clematis montana out of the way beforehand, covered the whole bed in ten metres of black plastic, and spread tons – well, half a ton – of gravel on top. The clematis, which is just about to flower,  was carefully brought back up and tethered down with tent pegs; that should keep it in position. Come autumn we’ll remove everything and treat the f%2!!88er again, then put everything back for another year. So, for the next couple of years or so, there’ll be pots on here.

Now all I need to do is try and recover the ability I once had to plant up and maintain a stunning container. Er, in the teeth of the winds off the Irish Sea. That should be interesting, as should the fact that the couch grass is in the wall. Oh well, hopefully successive doses of Roundup should help. Hopefully…



14 Comments Add yours

  1. Looks like a really impressive blue-print of a job, well done. I’ve an old raised veg bed here I’m tackling in a similar way – chemicals, membranes and lots of digging. As you say, it’s a pain. If only blood, sweat and tears made a difference!

    1. kate says:

      Oh, wouldn’t that be good! I’d have perfect lawns, without moss; heavy crops every year from the old pear tree; award-winning squashes and pumpkins instead of the two or so minatures I manage to raise…

      Excuse me, I’m heading for the blackberry whisky.

      1. Same here. I’ll join you!

        1. kate says:

          Ok, you find the glasses…

  2. leafencounterwp says:

    Wouldn’t it be fab if couch grass was edible? Then it wouldn’t seem such a battle getting rid of it – the word would be ‘harvest’ not ‘blitz with roundup’!

    1. kate says:


      I can’t help feeling the wild food movement has missed a trick (but I’m not inclined to experiment)…

  3. croftgarden says:

    I sympathise and I think you can be forgiven for reaching for the unmentionable (no not the whiskey).

    1. kate says:

      You do reach a point where you either let a bed return to farmland or go out and buy Roundup. Oh well…

      But I am having the whisky as well…!

  4. Anna says:

    Oh good luck with eradicating the vile couch grass Kate. It pervades my allotment beds. I could knit with the lengths that I pull out. Hope that you enjoyed that blackberry whisky after such a hard working session.

  5. Cathy says:

    You could run a competition for the best use of couch grass – eating, knitting…what else I wonder? Or just kill it off 🙂

    1. kate says:

      I’m going for Death. I hope!

  6. Angie says:

    Sometimes we all need a little help.

  7. VP says:

    I’m reviewing a book called Infuse, which is all about herbal tea. One of the recipes calls for some couch grass…

    1. kate says:

      I have some! Please come, everyone, and help yourselves!

      (There’s plenty that’s still organic….)

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