Cut through any deep taproots, and lift out the precut piece, making sure to include the grass’s fibrous roots.One drawback to sod removal is the significant loss of organic material, which greatly contributes to the health of plants.You can add organic matter by forking or shoveling compost, manure, grass clippings, or leaf mold onto the sod before tilling.A tilled bed can be planted immediately, but the process brings to the surface weed seeds that may germinate and cause problems later.You may also wind up inadvertently propagating some weeds like quack grass, which can send up new shoots from the small pieces of its chopped-up rhizome.If you keep the soil moist and delay planting by a couple of weeks, you can pull, hoe, or otherwise dispatch these weeds as they emerge.Pros: Retains organic matter; is quicker and easier than digging; permits immediate planting Cons: Is difficult on rocky sites and in wet or clay soils; turns up weed seeds; propagates certain weeds Tip: Large tillers can be hard to maneuver.The high temperatures and lack of light will eventually kill the grass, although they can also destroy beneficial organisms.Cover these biodegradable materials with grass clippings, leaf mold, mulch, or compost to hold the layers in place, keep in moisture, and add organic matter.Newspaper and cardboard do not increase temperature as much as plastic, but they eliminate light, causing chlorophyll to break down.Pros: Does not require the physical effort of removing or turning under sod; leaves original organic matter in place; does not disrupt soil structure Cons: Delays planting up to several months; may kill beneficial organisms if using plastic Tip: Lay down newspaper layers during the summer, and wet them to help keep them in place.Choose an appropriate product, and carefully follow the directions on the label if you decide to use herbicides to kill your grass.Be sure to buy a product designed to kill grasses (not one specific to broad-leaved plants), and check the expiration date.Don’t apply herbicides when rain is expected or they may wash off plants and into the soil and nearby waterways. .
Replacing Grass With a Garden Bed
Many homeowners, not just devoted gardeners, are discovering the benefits of replacing lawn grass with planting areas for vegetable gardens, flower garden beds, or mixed shrub/flower islands.To add planting areas to your landscape, though, you need to deal with the turfgrass that currently makes up your lawn.There are several ways to remove or kill the grass to make room for garden planting areas.Some of these methods are fairly simple but require patience and time.Cutting the turfgrass area into pieces and prying out and discarding the pieces of sod is arguably the very best way to remove the grass and prepare the area for a garden bed.Removed entirely, the grass won't grow up through your new garden, although you do need to take pains to remove it all since any remaining grassroots will quickly create new plants.If the soil in your yard is sparse or weak, you likely will need to add amendments in order to establish a good planting area in the space where you have removed the sod.You have a bed, ready to plant.It requires very little planning, so if you're a spur-of-the-moment type, this method will work for you.Solarization requires that you cover the area of your planned garden with one or two layers of thick plastic and leave it in place for 6 to 12 weeks until the heat of the sun bakes and kills all living plants beneath the plastic.Once the grass is dead, pull up the plastic, amend the soil, and garden away.There is no need to remove the dead grass, as it will simply decompose and add nutrients to the garden soil.Patience is required, since this process can take anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months, depending on the amount of sun the area gets and how bad the weeds are.Smother the Lawn.Like most easy methods, though, it requires a fair amount of time—as much as 6 months.Does a good job of killing the grass.This method serves to smother the underlying grass even as it creates a garden bed with good, nutritious soil.As the name suggests, lasagna gardening uses a technique of placing layers organic materials over the garden area, which creates a perfect growing medium as the layers decompose.After outlining the garden area, first, apply a thick layer of cardboard or newspaper over the grass.This is a very easy method.The method involves simply building a raised structure with wood, stone, or another material, then filling it with good quality garden soil, compost, and composted manure.However, if you'd like to, simply lay down a few layers of newspaper before filling the bed.Then you can garden away.It's not for everyone, but the grass in your planned garden area can be killed off with the right kind of herbicide.The herbicides normally used for lawn weeds do not kill blade-leafed plants like grasses, so you will need a broad-spectrum vegetation killer.Glyphosate herbicide is a very quick and thorough way to kill grass. .
5 Ways to Remove Grass – GrowIt BuildIT
One of the first steps to making your own vegetable garden or new flower beds is to remove the grass from your yard.Additionally I’ll give you the pros and cons of each method so you can choose the best method for your lawn or situation.Remove grass by hand with a shovel Use cardboard or newspaper to smother the grass.Rent a sod cutter.You should not plan a garden in an area that these lines cross.Also, before you do anything you need to mark out the area where you want to remove the grass from the lawn.I’ve found that having a friend help measure the area makes the job easier.1 – Remove the grass by hand with a shovel.For a more detailed step by step process with other tips, see this article on the best way to remove grass with a shovel.This is by far the easiest method to remove grass with a shovel.Water the area thoroughly the day before you wish to remove the grass.You want to get at least 1-2″ of soil, about the same thickness as a sod pad that are commercially available.The amount of weeds is low, as you remove most weed seeds.This is also very low cost, as you just need the shovel or wheelbarrow.The amount of weeds is low, as you remove most weed seeds.This is also very low cost, as you just need the shovel or wheelbarrow.You can still plant your flowers by cutting a cross through the cardboard.Start checking it after 4-6 weeks, but wait until all the grass is dead and half-decomposed.Pros – Cheap & Easy – this method generally just uses old newspaper or cardboard.3 – Rent a sod cutter.A sod cutter can be a low effort way to get rid of grass quickly.In addition to cost, you should take care to remove/avoid rocks as they can damage the sod cutter.But they make quick work of removing the grass and provide instant results.Just like a motorized sod cutter, you will be making long strips of sod.Pros – Fast results, and less effort than using a shovel.– Fast results, and less effort than using a shovel Cons – Cost, and risk of damage if you have rocky soil.It is a power tool that does require some effort to use, but the majority of the work is done by the spinning blades.Tilling can increase weeds.Tilling can have an overall negative effect on soil.Like a sod cutter, rocks can damage the spinning tines of a rototiller.Tilling will require extra weeding than other methods.Additionally, the damage caused to your soil structure is will likely require you to supplement with extra fertilizer and compost.Like with a sod cutter, rocks can easily damage or break a tine.I generally don’t use this method, as I try to avoid using harsh chemicals because of the adverse effects on the ecosystem.Just make sure you protect yourself when applying, as well as other plants you wish to keep.You just need to spray the area you wish to kill when the grass is dry, and it isn’t too hot out.I find the chemicals to be most effective when they aren’t in direct sunlight.But definitely make sure the grass is dry, as if the blades are wet, the herbicide may not stick effectively, and you will then have to reapply later.Cons – Potential damage to other plants, or yourself.I hope you find these summaries helpful in selecting the best method that meets your needs. .
How to Kill or Remove Grass (& Grow Food Not Lawns
So over the years (and with some help from the chickens) we slowly removed, smothered, or otherwise killed every bit of grass on our property to grow more useful plants in its place.The front and back yards are now littered with raised garden beds, pollinator-friendly perennials, fruit trees, edible shrubs, herbs, and more.Because we were dealing with extremely invasive weedy grass, we had to take fairly extensive measures to make sure it was gone for good.Therefore, this article will discuss several different options to remove, kill, or cover grass to prepare the ground for planting.Our country is obsessed with maintaining excessively huge green lawns simply out of bad habit, and lack of creative vision for something different!According to the National Resources Defense Council, turf grass lawns cover up to 50 MILLION acres of land in the United States alone.Plus, with thoughtful design, organic native and edible landscapes require far less maintenance and resources than grass.If your yard is made up of classic lawn grass like fescue (or other types that don’t creep and run) then simply covering it up may work out just fine.On the other hand, if your lawn is full of invasive, creeping grasses like crabgrass (or has a lot of weeds) then you may want to think twice about leaving it in place.Clearly, if you want to create in-ground garden beds, you’ll need to remove the grass in that space.By removing our grass, we created a nice 4 to 6-inch deep void within the borders of our yard, perfect for filling back in with gravel, fresh soil, compost, and plants.The creeping crabgrass and weeds were attracted to the moisture in the raised beds and infested them within one season.Also, we turned the sprinkler heads away from the area because they were spraying the beds and plants (not ideal) so the grass died back and looked really awful.We later came back to remove all the grass in this area and add weed block landscape fabric, including under the raised beds.Also, even if a chemical spray kills the grass, you would likely still need to remove the leftover dead stuff and roots anyways.No matter what option you choose below, keep in mind that it is easiest to remove grass when it is moderately damp to semi-dry.Alternatively, really dry grass falls apart easily – making it more difficult to lift and remove in solid pieces.Using a shovel to cut and remove grass is a great choice for smaller spaces, or in tight areas with a lot of curves or obstacles.If you are removing only a portion of the grass, mark the desired edge line with a rope, string, or spray paint as a guide.If you’re hoping to keep the sod intact to move and replant elsewhere, feel free to create larger strips to roll up – but they get heavier than you’d imagine!If you’re hoping to keep the sod intact to move and replant elsewhere, feel free to create larger strips to roll up – but they get heavier than you’d imagine!Some sod cutters are smaller manual tools, while others are reminiscent of oversized lawnmower-like machines that cut the grass into long clean strips for you.Rather than peeling the lawn up to haul it away, you could also break it up by tilling it in place – and then work the grass back into the soil.I have never personally worked with a tiller but I understand they can be a bit awkward to maneuver, so plan to manicure any curved or tight edges of your space with hand tools like a shovel or edger first.The soil is loosened in the tilling process, which makes working in compost and other amendments into the planting space even easier.I am not usually a huge fan of tilling since it disrupts the precious established soil food web below the surface.They free range in the backyard where we have several (fenced off) raised garden beds, their coop and run, and what was once a small patch of grass.We pulled out the remaining weedy spots and roots by hand, and then installed our stone raised pollinator island in its place.That is a valid option, though keep in mind the ground surface may settle and sink slightly as it decomposes below.On the other hand, if your goal is to plant things directly in the ground where the grass once was, plan on this process taking several months.One very organic and sustainable way to kill grass is to cover it with a deep natural mulch material.For example, by mulching over the top of grass with leaves, wood chips, compost, leaf mold, bark, pine needles, and/or paper material.Fluffy material like leaves will compact and break down with time, so start out with even more on top – a couple feet even.For instance, use newspaper (at least 8 to 10 sheets thick), unwaxed cardboard, or a couple layers of bulk unbleached masking paper.Or, if you are worried about invasive and persistent weeds coming back, add other types of ground cover to the now-cleared space before adding raised beds or other landscaping on top.Clearly, this method of removing grass requires an abundant supply of mulch material – as well as a dash of patience.If you haven’t heard of solarizing, it is the process of covering the grass in clear plastic to both heat and smother it.When done right, solarizing lawn effectively “cooks” the top foot of soil and can kill grass, weeds, insects, nematodes, and pathogens.It is best to solarize your lawn during the summer (the hottest time of year) and when the target area receives the most direct sun.Think about the heat of a transparent greenhouse, versus the cooling effects of tinted windows or dark shade cloth.Using a dark tarp will make the grass discolored and less healthy below it, but will not provide the same strong heat as clear plastic.Think about the heat of a transparent greenhouse, versus the cooling effects of tinted windows or dark shade cloth.Using a dark tarp will make the grass discolored and less healthy below it, but will not provide the same strong heat as clear plastic.Once the grass is dead, you can either remove it (now we’re back to square one) or apply mulch, compost, raised beds, or other desired ground cover over the top of it.Now let’s talk about grass alternatives for ground cover, including materials to put below raised garden beds, in pathways, or other planting spaces.The ground cover you choose is ultimately a personal decision, based on your unique situation and preferences.Weed-blocking landscape fabric is tightly-woven material that is placed over the ground surface to effectively block weeds, grass, or other plants from growing up from beneath it.We install high-quality weed barrier fabric below all of our deep raised garden beds, along with hardware cloth to block the gophers.We removed the grass with shovels, converted the sprinklers to drip manifolds, installed landscape fabric, added borders with pavers and cobblestones, filled the pathway areas with gravel, and filled the planting zones with fresh soil, compost, and mulch on top of the fabric.Some of the shallow ground cover like creeping thyme and oregano grows well in the 6″ of soil and compost that is on top of the fabric, not needing holes cut.Cardboard and paper do a great job of suppressing grass and weeds, albeit not as long-lasting as landscape fabric.But if the space you’re covering isn’t incredibly weedy, I suggest this route over landscape fabric.As we discussed in the “deep mulch” section above, unwaxed cardboard, layers of newspaper, or bulk sheet paper can be used to cover the ground surface (with or without grass beneath it).In open spaces like pathways, add a mulch of choice on top to keep the paper down and provide a clean finished look.It wasn’t weedy enough to require landscape fabric, though there were some leftover grass roots we wanted to smother.Because the cardboard will degrade with time, we knew the roots wouldn’t be permanently restricted as they would be with landscape fabric.Mulch helps reduce runoff and evaporation, retain soil moisture, and increase organic matter content.Natural mulch options include bark or shredded bark, wood chips, straw, pine needles, compost, grass clippings, small gravel, or even larger rocks like river rocks or cobblestone.In the perimeter and pollinator islands of the front yard garden, we mulch with a combination of compost and small bark.I especially love the way green ground cover looks between pavers or flagstone and around borders.If you choose to go this route, research what types of ground cover will grow well in your climate – with as little fuss and maintenance possible.If you live in an arid climate and the ground cover is going to need a lot of supplemental water, it may not be worth the resources and effort.You can get quite creative with ground cover, choosing a variety of textures, heights, incorporate tall native grasses, or even succulents in the right climate.A mass of trailing rosemary and thyme, serving as a lush and low-maintenance living ground cover in this part of the stone pollinator island.A sturdy border is particularly important to prevent creeping weeds and grass from invading the fresh space.The terrace board can be dug deep between the transition zones, effectively preventing shallow creeping grass from crossing to the other side.I hope this article gave you some great ideas and inspiration to kill some grass – and to Grow Food, Not Lawns! .
How to Remove Grass for a Garden Bed
Many readers ask how to remove grass for a garden bed.Before you clear your lawn or land for a garden, let's start with four basics of choosing a good gardening location:.If you're planting a vegetable garden, crops need 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight so it can't be too shady.We're going to break this section into two areas: 1. simply removing lawn grass for a garden and 2. clearing unused land for a larger-scale garden or small farm.Removing Grass for a Garden.Mow down grass or cut back weeds to the ground.If there are lots of weeds on the ground where you want to grow, lay down a layer of cardboard or 8 to 10 sheets of newspaper, overlapping the edges by at least 6 inches.This will help to kill off the weeds between growing areas.Thoroughly wet the cardboard to help it break down.Though this method requires more physical effort, it's also very effective and quick.Follow the smothering technique above, using layered newspaper.Place plants at proper distance (as indicated by your plant labels) Cut through the wet newspaper to dig a small planting hole for each.If you have clay soil, you can also build raised beds right on their lawns, and line the bottoms with cardboard to smother the grass – a technique that makes it possible to fill the beds and start gardening right away.Build a bed with thick layers of newspaper over cleared ground.Top with about four inches of compost, then add a layer of woodchips about two inches deep, taking care not to mix the two layers.If you're planning a larger garden or small farm, you'll want to ensure that you also take the time to restore the soil for planting.Larger sapling and tree stumps will have to be pulled out.The larger rocks were probably plowed around once upon a time, and you may choose to take the route, but it's best to remove as many rocks as possible.Even if you don't use them for food or forage, they help restore the soil to make it better suited for crop growing.The legumes return nitrogen to the soil along with organic material, and are a good choice for long-term soil development.Winter rye is good to plant in the fall and plow two to three weeks before spring planting.In four to six weeks they can be plowed under, and these are good for preparing vegetable garden if you couldn't get to your land in the fall.Once you've fertilized your field (each year's mulch plowed under helps, so do shredded leaves) you can further improve it by rotation planting.This means dividing your land or garden into several areas and planting different things, changing them each year. .
Four strategies turn lawn to garden
Mowing season is in full force, so it’s no wonder that some folks are looking at their rolling green lawns and thinking “How about more garden beds?”.Those who are short on time and aren’t concerned with chemical residues can quickly kill off grass with herbicides.Spray the designated area with a glyphosate-based herbicide such as Roundup, according to the Colorado State University Extension.The cut sod can be laid upside down in the middle of the area being removed” to fill any uneven spots.Another variation of this is lasagna gardening, so named because of the layers of material used to build the soil in the bed.Alternate the layers of green materials, such as grass clippings, with browns, such as cardboard, just as you would in a compost pile.It’s best to start in the fall, to give the bed time to properly decompose before planting, according to Patricia Lanza, author of Lasagna Gardening.The primary advantage of lasagna gardening is the low cost of the materials, although it does take a bit more time to complete the bed than using other methods.Solarization — keeping light from reaching the lawn by covering it with a sheet of black plastic — works best during hot summer weather.The University of California Extension recommends cutting the grass as short as possible, then covering the area being converted to beds with black polyethylene plastic held in place by rocks or stakes. .
Removing Lawn to Make Way for More Habitat
From small patches to whole lawns–these techniques will get you started down the path to less lawn and more…pollinator flower beds?Trees?By far the laziest way to remove a patch of lawn is to take arborists’ wood chips, newspaper, or cardboard and cover the lawn depriving it of the light and oxygen it needs to grow.After several weeks, if you’ve used cardboard, you may wish to pull up and dispose of the cardboard (some research finds cardboard attracts termites and other pests) and cover the now-dead grass with mulch (arborists’ wood chips will work quite well–you’ll only need 4-6 inches at this point).Free wood chips taken from a community pile are likely composed of many different tree species since they are typically created when a chipper moves through town grinding up all kinds of trees planted over the years.Many people prefer wood chips made from plants native to their area, but there isn’t a lot of experimental research linking success or failure of gardens with specific kinds of tree chip mulch.It is likely you don’t need to be overly concerned with the specific species of trees in your arborists’ mulch.This depends on where you live and how much competition there is for wood chips, but it can be a significant cost-saver, especially if you are trying to kill lawn with only wood chips, since you need at least 8 inches to really smoother the lawn.For those of you just starting out, you might consider removing just one small patch of lawn to create a new planting bed.In many yards, the areas between the sides of the house and the edge of the property are narrow.In the image above, the owners are smothering lawn along their foundation and at the border of their property.I like to use a garden hose to map out new garden bed edges.The way they fall on the ground creates naturally rounded, nicely proportioned curves that create good looking shapes.The new bed runs along the bottom of the slope towards their house, extending the width of the yard from the driveway to the edge of the property, tapering as it goes to create a nice organic shape.These areas are rarely used for play, leisure, or as pathways making them less-than-ideal locations for lawns.Planting along under a series of trees is another great way to define new planting beds.Pleasing to the eye, these gardens are created by selecting any space in the middle of a sprawling lawn and outlining an organic, kidney-bean shaped bed.The beds in the two images above are a great example of the variety of shapes and sizes you can install, to give up a little lawn in favor of a diversity of plants.One great way to get started, especially if you are starting small, is to focus on flowers.Even small new flower plantings will support a new diversity of native bee, pollinating fly, and butterfly species.Whether you join a growing movement of people taking their first steps into pollinator gardening by picking a patch of lawn to remove or go all the way to zero like the person in the image above, knowing the mechanics of how to get started is critical for success.Feel free to ask any questions you might have about how to pick a patch, or get started smothering.Habitat Network tracks changes to your map so we can understand how people are changing their yards and other green spaces over time. .