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.
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.
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.
Celestial Habitats by J. Kolenovsky
2003 Honorable Mention Award, Keep Houston Beautiful
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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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