bark mulch - need to get rid of grass?

We would like to apply bark mulch in several areas around our home where grass currently exists. Is there a need to get rid of the grass before applying the mulch, either by lifting the sod or laying cardboard and four inches of soil, as we do when preparing a new bed, or can we just lay landscape fabric and 2-3 inches of mulch and that will take care of the grass over time. thanks Teresa
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What kind of grass is it?
I would vote dig it out, but I have a very aggressive grass that spreads by runners. It laughs at weedcloth and mulch.
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Toni
South Florida USA
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I have no idea what kind of grass it is... how would one tell?
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I would start with where you are? Then someone closer than me will pop in and help.
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Toni
South Florida USA
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ok, I'm in Vancouver BC Canada, USDA zone 8
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1st If you are mulching to increase the health of your soil than bark mulch may not be the way to go. Bark mulch is made up of outer bark of trees. Outer bark of trees is made up of suberin. Suberin is long chains of fatty acids. There is not a suitable carbon source available to help feed the soil. Composted wood chips and leaves would be suitable to increase soil health by feeding the soil. I say composted because fresh chips (from symplast maintaining trees) has protoplasm spread all over the place. This attracts micros that attack defenseless cells of your trees. Once the chips are composted this is not an issue. Also the more you compost the chips the less chance you will have of getting an undesired fungus on your house. I have had good results with cutting the turf low with a weed wacker (KEEP AWAY FROM YOUNG TREES) and placing the composted wood chips on top at about 4" in depth and flat. Contacting a tree company may lead you to some nice composted wood chips.
"Suberin is a lipid that in the outer periderm of phellem waterproofs outer bark. Suberin- impregnated phellem is called cork. The chains of carbon and hydrogen in suberin are so varied that few enzymes from microorganisms are able to cleave it for an energy source. This characteristic gives corks their unique benefits for sealing bottles. Suberin is also in a layer in absorbing roots called the Casparian strip. This layer is an effective boundary essential in the absorption processes. Energy is required to transport water and elements through the boundary into the tree. Suberin is also a major compound in the barrier zone that forms after wounding. Outer bark that contains suberin is often used for mulch, since bark mulch will not be broken down by soil microorganisms because of the suberin. The bark mulch has aesthetic value, but the bark is of little value for providing energy-releasing compounds to soil microorganisms. Some trees store fats and oils as their reserve energy source. The fats and oils are not soluble in water. Many palms store oils. Waxes on leaves and fruits are also lipids." Source http://www.treedictionary.com/DICT2003/shigo/CHEM.html
If you contemplate using chemicals to kill the grass you may desire to read up of pesticides. http://home.ccil.org/~treeman/spring.html
Sincerely, John A. Keslick, Jr. Arborist http://home.ccil.org/~treeman and www.treedictionary.com Beware of so-called tree experts who do not understand tree biology. Storms, fires, floods, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions keep reminding us that we are not the boss.

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I found the spell for the fungus that will grow on your house if fresh chips are used. artillery fungus
Sincerely, John A. Keslick, Jr. Arborist http://home.ccil.org/~treeman and www.treedictionary.com Beware of so-called tree experts who do not understand tree biology. Storms, fires, floods, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions keep reminding us that we are not the boss.

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One more point. If the turf is in the drip line of your tree, and your goal is to preserve tree health - do not dig out the turf. The roots of turf grow deeper than the non-woody roots of trees. In digging out the turf you are also digging out your absorbing roots of your tree which facilitate the absorption of essential elements dissolved in water. Not a good treatment for the tree.
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Sincerely,
John A. Keslick, Jr.
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put clear plastic down and let the sun solarize the soil and kill the grass. then put the permeable fabric down and mulch. you will need to spot kill weeds with weed killer. fast way. use roundup to kill the grass in the area, put down the fabric and then the mulch. use roundup only in very limited areas and only where absolutely necessary. Ingrid
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