Ask a Question
Notify Me On Question Update
Email this Question
My backyard has far too much grass. I'd like to turn a fairly large portion of the lawn into waterwise beds and also expand my backyard vegetable garden. Two years ago, I made some beds by removing the turf. However, it is not only very hard work but it also results in a large amount of excess sod, and takes a good amount of topsoil with it. It also seems wasteful to send it to a landfill. Is there a way to kill the grass without herbicides? For example, will covering it with black plastic be an effective way to kill the grass? If so, how long will it be before I can plant in the new beds?
Rate This FAQ
Solarization is an option, but clear plastic works better, temperature under clear plastic actually gets hotter and works better to kill grass - this works best in early summer when grass is actively growing and temperatures are warm enough. It's important the lawn is well watered prior to covering with plastic. It will take 8-10 weeks to kill grass this way. Then the dead grass will take time to decompose - so as it decomposes, any nitrogen in the soil will be first used by microbes decomposing the dead grass.
Here is a link to article from Oregon State on Solarizing, click on http://extension.oregonstate.edu/news/story.php?S_No=172&storyType=garde
Another option is to build up layers of cardboard and compost- a minimum of six to eight inches over the existing grass. This is best done in fall, and by next spring, with snowload, you can plant directly into these top layers of compost. The following is an excerpt from University of Illinois article on layers or lasagna gardening.
In a nutshell, you layer organic materials, starting with a 1-inch thick stratum of WET newspaper or cardboard laid directly onto established grass, overlapped slightly. Or in my case, a weedy flower bed. This smothers grass and weed growth and encourages our friends the earthworms to move in. On top of this layer, add 1-2 inches of peat moss. Then choose from the smorgasbord below, alternating strata of carbon and nitrogen products with peat moss between each layer, adding a sprinkle of wood ashes or bonemeal.
Fallen leaves (except for oak), peat moss, straw, newspapers, cardboard or shredded paper, chopped stalks or chopped corn cobs, old straw
manure ,blood meal, grass clippings (2 inches or less), kitchen waste such as leftover vegetables, fruits, eggshells, coffee grounds. NOTE: Avoid meats, oils or dairy products.
Your goal is to create 24 inches of material. This will eventually settle down to 6
inches of easily workable soil. If you like, you can outline the bed with landscape timbers, but that's not a necessity. Fall is the ideal time to begin this, so it can steep over the winter, but you can create your lasagna any time during the year. To speed up the cooking process, cover with a sheet of black plastic weighted down with bricks or logs. In about 6 weeks most of the layers will have broken down into a dark, crumbly material that's a joy to plant in.
The great thing about lasagna gardening is that you don't have to wait to plant – you can build the garden and plant it all in the same day (assuming the weather is warm enough). To make a planting hole in a new bed, simply pull the layers apart with your hands. Set the plant in the hole, pull the mulch back around the roots, and water it thoroughly.
To sow seeds in a newly-built lasagna garden, spread fine compost or damp peat moss where the seeds are to go, then set the seeds on the surface. Sift more fine material to cover the seeds and press down.
Submit Your Suggestion
Other Questions In This Topic
- Do garden vegetables such as tomatoes and cucumbers require sun protection,(shade), during the hot part of summer?
- We have creeping mountain sorrel in our lawn and can't get rid of it. Do you have any recommendations on products that might kill it, or any other ways to get rid of it?
- We would like to remove the lawn from a large area around some 40-50 ft pine trees and cover the area with decorative bark. The roots are close enough to the surface in some areas that using a sod cutter would damage the trees. Would it work to just spray the grass with a killer, such as Roundup, and then put the bark directly on the dead grass? Would this affect the trees in the areas of the partially exposed roots? Any other suggestions?
- My apple tree is starting to blossom. I love the apples but they always get wormy. When is the best time to spray them and with what?
- There is a pecan tree where I work that is dropping leaves like crazy. Can I add the leaves to my vegetable garden and let it compost over the winter? Is there any toxicity in pecan leaves?
- We live in a suburb near the mountains and have a lot of deer wandering through our neighborhood eating our flowers and vegetable gardens. They are not afraid of people and walk through our backyard any time of day. What can we spray on the garden plants to stop them from eating them?
- Last year when I was about to harvest my corn from my yard I found that something got to about half of it before I did. I don't think it was insect because of the nature of the damage; I suspect birds. On the ears in question the husks were literally shredded and each kernel picked out. I know there are blue jays nesting in the area but this was the first time any thing like that happened. I don't think it was a mammal since the stalks were intact and not collapsed from the weight of what got at the ears that were devoured. Do you what causd this to happen? Is there something I can do to prevent that from happening this year? Thanks
- How can I tell if the spider I found is a hobo spider?