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
- I am considering a weeping willow for my back yard. I have not heard good things about them being planted in Salt Lake. What is your opinion, and would I be better going with a different species or will a willow be fine?
- I have much vinca minor (dwarf periwinkle) planted about 20 years ago as ground cover in my yard. Some is in full sun, some is in part sun/part shade. Some small areas of the vinca (3-4 feet in diameter) in several places in the yard have begun the most recent two Springs looking yellow/pale green, not deep green like the rest of the gardens. Neither have they flowered. A couple of the small yellow/pale green areas e thinned, and some of the plants died. The veins in the leaves of the unhealthy plants are green, but the leaves are yellow/pale green. They have remained thus all summer. They don't turn brown and dry and die. I have treated with fertilizer and snail bait, but neither has had any effect on the unhealthy looking plants. Are these plants deficient in some nutrient? Healthy plants I planted in the bare areas had a hard time establishing but did eventually and have not paled. What should I do? I don't want the problem to spread. The periwinkle has added a great texture to the yard.
- Do you have any suggestions as to where to buy or how to make a truly sturdy tomato cage? The "standard" metal ones I have bought at garden centers have always tipped over when the plant has gotten big.
- I would like to prune my lilac bush. What is the best time of year to do so and how much can be cut back and not harm the bush?
- I have a large weeping willow tree in my backyard that has started dripping sap as well as loosing leaves. It appears that some of the larger branches are dying as well. Is there anything I could do to bring the tree back to life?
- I have an 8 year old Norway Spruce. It has a section at the base where the needle grow is restricted and the stems look whitish. The rest of the tree has green plush growth and it is about 12 ft high now. It had this problem when I brought it home from the nursery but I thought it would snap out of it. What is this and is there anything I can do?
- We bought a home in East Millcreek w/out any trees in the front yard. We really like the look of the Sycamore tree (with the mottled bark), but don't know if that is the best choice. Is it possible to get one that doesn't bear fruit (itchy-bombs, as we called it as children)? What other trees would you suggest as a large shade tree? Once we decide on a tree, I was planning on checking with all our neighbors to see if they want to plant the same tree so that 20 years down the road, we have a beautiful street. So, I want to plant something that won't make my neighbors despise me down the road!
- I have varmits that are ruining my lawn during the winter (under snow). They make trails and destroy the lawn about 4 inches wide. I can find no holes only the trails and dead grass flipped to the side of the trails. Any ideas? We are going crazy trying to figure this out. We have never had this problem until last year.