Even with mulch, Bermuda grass can take hold and ruin the look of your plants. In a cactus or succulent bed, it can be hard to get rid of when it grows up around the plants, between any mulch and landscaping fabric. The roots and stolons will keep coming back unless you remove them completely.
If you catch it early enough, you can probably yank out the few pieces of Bermuda grass. Dig down, if you can, to remove all the roots you can find. If it’s too close to cactus, this might not be so easy. Wear gloves, and try to get as close as you can to the cactus or succulent without disturbing its roots. Bermuda grass grows actively during spring and summer, so do this in winter or spring, when the grass is dormant.
You can also try applying weedkiller to the grass. Use a weedkiller that kills the roots, such as one that uses glyphosate (RoundUp). If the grass is close to the cactus or succulent, use a piece of paper or cardboard to shield the plant when you spray. Choose a day that’s not windy to avoid the herbicide from getting on your plants. This method may take months to work completely, and each time you try, you risk spraying your plants with herbicide. Obviously, this isn’t a choice if you want to keep your garden organic.
The last resort
If all else fails, you’ll have to pull up the plant. Dig around the cactus or succulent to preserve as much of the root ball as you can. Once you’ve got it dug up, remove all the grass roots and stolons you see. You may find them wrapped around the stem or roots of the plant. If necessary, remove the soil from around the roots to make sure you get all the Bermuda grass roots out.
Dig the soil around the cactus to remove any roots from the surrounding area. At this point, it’s probably best to replant the cactus or succulent elsewhere, in an area that has no Bermuda grass. That way, your cactus can grow on, and you can deal with any remaining Bermuda grass in the original area. It will almost always come back, even if you think you got it all. Even a small piece of root may regrow, especially if the area receives water. This method should get you a long way to being Bermuda grass-free in your low-water beds.
Warning: This method could possibly end up killing your cactus or succulent if it’s not well-established or if you damage too many roots. Be as gentle as you can, and give the plant extra care after you replant it.
If it reemerges
Once you’ve cleared out the Bermuda grass, keep a close eye on the area. Act quickly if you see new grass shoots. Check regularly in Bermuda’s growing season in spring and summer, as it can get a hold within a short time. It may mean you have to dig up the area several times in a season to remove more pesky stolons and roots. Bermuda grass is the cockroach of the plant world; it lives where other things cannot.