best way to get rid of lawn

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This spring, we are taking the plunge and getting rid of our front lawn, or what's left of it. It covers about 200 square feet. It will be a lot of work for me (older female) to dig out the sod. After I dig it out, I will have to put it in the garbage. (We have a small urban lot and there is absolutely no place to compost the sold or hide it.)
So, will using Round-up kill the grass in a satisfactory manner? Will it leave soil in which I can plant new plants in a month or so after the grass is dead? Will the Round-up hurt the dogwood tree that is under the grass? Will it hurt the birds who visit my garden?
Normally, I am not a fan of Round-up, but it does seem like a good alternative to digging out all that sod.
Thanks for any help.
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DD,
There's no need to dig it out. Presuming that you're planting in mulched beds, wait the proscribed amount of time as noted in the directions (10-14 days as I recall) and then plant right in through the sod. Once you've planted your larger trees/shrubs, cover everything in thick sheets of newspaper or cardboard and mulch in... you'll be amazed at the fertility of your soil next season. All that sod will decompose and leach downwards, while the newspaper provides a great biodegradable weed barrier.
Dave

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Dave, thanks for the advice!
I won't be planting any trees or shrubs, just a lot of small plants--many of which will be rock-garden plants. Will this method still work with them?

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Something else that works well is "solarizing" the grass by covering with black plastic that is well anchored down over it. The grass dies and decomposes due to worm action and you aven't lost any of the beneficial bacteria that has built up in the soil.
http://www.hal-pc.org/~garden/weststreet1.jpg
http://www.hal-pc.org/~garden/cornereast.jpg
http://www.hal-pc.org/~garden/eastgarden2.jpg
http://www.hal-pc.org/~garden/negarden.jpg
JK
dd wrote:

--

Celestial Habitats by J. Kolenovsky
2003 Honorable Mention Award, Keep Houston Beautiful
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On Tue, 03 Feb 2004 08:15:33 -0600, J Kolenovsky wrote:

This works great but takes an inordinate amount of time. You could easily spend an entire season waiting for the grass to die and be reduced by worm action.
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- Tallahassee, FL - Only where people have learned to appreciate and cherish the landscape and its living cover will they treat it with the care and respect it should have - Paul Bigelow Sears.
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- Tallahassee, FL - Maybe in florida.
Bob
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- Tallahassee, FL - Nature encourages no looseness, pardons no errors. Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Clear would get truly hot. I wanted to deprive light so I went with black. Either way, it gets the job done.
Jim Lewis wrote:

--

Celestial Habitats by J. Kolenovsky
2003 Honorable Mention Award, Keep Houston Beautiful
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Like Dave said, wait the 2 weeks after you spray and then if you are doing a rock garden, put down a weed barrier (ground cloth) that will still allow for proper drainage. If you put the rocks on top of the dead grass you'll have them start to sink very quickly. You can cut holes in the weed barrier to dig holes so that the plants have contact with the soil below.
On a design note...
Small plants with big rocks, big plants with small rocks. Use at least 3 different sizes of rocks but don't mix too many colors. Home Depot sells river rock (or egg rock) that has a nice mix of colors and sizes. Your local garden center should be able to provide you with 3 large boulders (have them deliver them!) Use them to create a grouping and surround them with smaller rocks. Avoid the urge to put a pink flamingo in the middle.
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On Tue, 03 Feb 2004 08:47:41 -0500, Ricky wrote:

Weed barrier fabric makes gardening difficult. When plants need to be relocated, the fabric always gets in the way. Weeds still will find a way to root.
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True. I never use weed barrier to prevent weeds. It's only real use is to prevent rocks from sinking into the soil. You can always cut through it plant something with a sharp knife. Remember our soil in S. Florida is mostly sand so small rocks tend to disappear over time and foot traffic.
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On Tue, 03 Feb 2004 10:48:04 -0500, Ricky wrote:

I'm in Wisconsin where the ground remains frozen until August, thaws for a month or so and the refreezes. There are many in my neighborhood who have put down fabric and rocks round their foundations. These tend to be people who think that landscaping and gardening is a one-time event instead of an ever-changing tapestry of plants that fit the season and suit one's fancies.
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True, the plants change over time. But the rocks will probably stay the same... unless you water and feed them.
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Yes, it will be a bit more time-consuming as you will probably want to lay your paper down first, then go back and cut an 'X' for each perennial. Pull the paper back, plant in, and then lay the paper back right up to the stems. It seems like an inordinate amount of work, but your weeding and maintenance will be *greatly* decreased if you take the time up front to do it right.
If you're planning an alpine style garden that will use gravel or stone chips as mulch, I would recommend amending the soil really well first (but not tilling-- my experience has been that tilling brings up hundreds or thousands of dormant weed seeds which are activated by the change in enviorment). Simply top dressing works quite well-- I used this method for my front mulched bed (Roundup, top dressing, paper/cardboard, mulch) and in 2 years time I noted that the organic material had filtered down a good ten inches into our Virginia hardpan, creating a rich organic humus. Pretty much any organic material is good-- shredded leaves/needles, composted cow manure, peat, grass clippings, shredded bark, straw, it's all good.
Dave

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Thanks to all who responded! You gave me some great ideas. Any recommendations for good dwarf evergreens--that stay dwarf? Several years ago, I got something at Home Depot that was supposed to be a dwarf, but it turned into a monster and I had to dig it out.
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where do you live, dd?
Dave

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Zone 6, in a Boston suburb. This winter has been so bad, though, it seems like the Arctic...

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On Tue, 03 Feb 2004 12:23:46 +0000, dd wrote:

I have used Roundup. It works quite nicely. Once everything is dead and the 2-3 week wait is done, till the soil 8-12" deep. Add peat by spreading 2" over the tilled area. Retill to incorporate the peat into the soil. Now the bed is ready for planting.
It's always a good idea to get the soil tested for the type of gardening you plan to do. vegetables, annuals and perennials all have different needs.
If you are planting perennials, the extra time, effort and cost you invest today will pay back in the years to come. Poorly prepared soils and beds will only disappoint in 2-3 years as plant production begins to wane.
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I'd recommend at least two applications of Roundup spaced 3 weeks apart if that is the route you choose to follow. The roots of many lawn grasses tend to be very persistant and the double dose seems to provide better results.
Peat is pretty much worthless as a soil amendment and is non-renewable resource as well. Add some good quality compost instead. - not sterile and with greater nutrient content than peat. Adds better pore space as well. I do agree that taking the time to correctly improve your soil will be of considerable benefit in the long run. BTW, digging up at least portions of the sod (perhaps for pathways?) and piling it upside down on the areas you designate for planting will give your little front garden some needed change in topography that is visually stimulating and will accent your rock garden plants and rocks better than a flat terrain. Ad a few dwarf conifers to provide some height and year round color/interest, too.
pam - gardengal
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