I have read the advice on this wonderful group for the last 3 years and want
to say thanks for all the wonderful posts. I have learned much.
I have gained enough love of gardening and confidence now to expand from my
tiny reserved spot and want to get another space prepared, I understand that
it really may not be ready for edibles until the next growing season or
maybe fall crops.
The space I am using now never had grass on it because of trees which had
over grown on my lot- So I did not have to remove grass, once the tree was
gone there was/had been years of organic matter and the soil was filled with
earth worms. I tilled in some compost and peat moss to loosen things up a
bit, since being on the Gulf Coast of Texas just north of Galveston Island
our soil is like a patch of black concrete if not amended.
I really would like to avoid toxic chemicals if possible, especially being
so close to the bay (maybe 1/2 a mile-if that far) since I know now the
effect round up and fertilizers have on the ecosystem of Galveston bay.
I have considered doing this:
1. setting the lawnmower on stealth mode to cut the grass to the quick.
2. laying a thick layer of card board on top of the former grass
3. putting the grass clippings on top of the cardboard
4. maybe some plastic sheets, anchored down on top of all that and just
going away for a few months to let it all decompose and the rest of the
5. and because of the ascetics, maybe putting some kind of more attractive
mulch down on top of the plastic.
I could build a raised bed, but from my experience the water drains out of
them faster and since our summers are HOT and often dry (at least till it
floods-not much in between here), I am thinking it might be better to go
down not up.
Also, I have considered buying some of those plastic swimming pools and
drilling holes in the bottom for drainage and using the square foot method
until the grass is dead under the pools next spring, then using that spot.
Does anyone have a better idea or advice? Pros/cons ?
Lots of what you have done and plan to do sounds great, but I'm
little confused, so I'd like to clarify. You said:
"The space I am using now never had grass on it because of trees whic
had over grown on my lot- So I did not have to remove grass..."
Then you said:
"I have considered doing this:
1. setting the lawnmower on stealth mode to cut the grass to th
2. laying a thick layer of card board on top of the former grass
3. putting the grass clippings on top of the cardboard"
So I'm confused as to whether you have grass where you want to prepar
a bed or if this is another bed.
If you are going to shear the grass on another part of your lawn jus
to get grass clippings, I wouldn't recommend that if you don't have th
type of grass that likes to be sheared. If you do have grass where yo
want to plant, then the best thing to do would be to either remove th
grass with a flat shovel or sod stripper, which you can rent. You ca
let the grass decompose in a separate spot or turn it upside down i
place. Put either cardboard or 6 to 8 layers of the black printe
pages of newspaper on top. Dampen the newspaper as you go or you'll b
chasing it all over the yard and entertaining your neighbors like I did
You could then put a layer of leaves, and/or grass clippings and/o
compost on top of that. I wouldn't suggest using the black plastic a
that will cook all those lovely worms and microbes you have worked s
hard to have. You can let that decompose over the summer. This metho
is called Lasagna composting or sheet composting.
As to adding peat moss, I don't recommend it. It will add som
texture, but compost works better and has more nutritional value.
Compost will also improve the texture of your soil. Also, peat wil
retain moisture, but once it dries, it's difficult to rewet. You might
want to read here for info on peat moss.
Here's some sites on the soil food web and biology you should find
I don't think you need to purchase those pools. Besides, once you are
done planting you will have to do something with the soil you have in
them. Dumping it on top of the site will, in effect, give you the
raised bed and the pools will be useless with the holes and just fill
up the landfill.
So, in the end I recommend stripping the sod or covering it with
several layers of cardboard and/or newspaper and doing the lasagna
thing. You could add compost on top of that and either plant in it or
sow a cover crop (sometimes called green manure) for the summer instead
of the plastic and mulch. Then you can turn it all in come fall.
Good points you raised Newt.
This is a new spot.
I had thought of the plastic because I have read about solarizing the
soil. -but am thinking now that was with clear plastic.
See this is why I asked BEFORE I started.
I wonder if I get the area reasonably grass free and put down compost,
cardboard and newspapers along with a thick layer of hay if that would not
be better in the long run.
I might even experiment with seaweed since it is not only plentifully but
free, minus the price of gas to go get it. I figure, correct me if I am
wrong, that even if it is built up some while I am waiting for the mixture
to decompose, eventually it will decompose enough to be able to till back
into the soil.
Thanks for the food for thought.
> let the grass decompose in a separate spot or turn it upside down in
> place. Put either cardboard or 6 to 8 layers of the black printed
> pages of newspaper on top. Dampen the newspaper as you go or you'll be
> chasing it all over the yard and entertaining your neighbors like I did!
> You could then put a layer of leaves, and/or grass clippings and/or
> compost on top of that. I wouldn't suggest using the black plastic as
> that will cook all those lovely worms and microbes you have worked so
> hard to have. You can let that decompose over the summer. This method
> is called Lasagna composting or sheet composting.
> texture, but compost works better and has more nutritional value.
> Compost will also improve the texture of your soil. Also, peat will
> retain moisture, but once it dries, it's difficult to rewet. You might
> want to read here for info on peat moss.
> done planting you will have to do something with the soil you have in
> them. Dumping it on top of the site will, in effect, give you the
> raised bed and the pools will be useless with the holes and just fill
> up the landfill.
> several layers of cardboard and/or newspaper and doing the lasagna
> thing. You could add compost on top of that and either plant in it or
> sow a cover crop (sometimes called green manure) for the summer instead
> of the plastic and mulch. Then you can turn it all in come fall.
Norma, please forgive, but I don't know how to cut and paste all this
stuff as I'm posting from a forum and not a usenet.
Seaweed is great to add to compost! You could just layer it on with
the rest of the ingredients. Here's some sites on making compost and
You said, "I wonder if I get the area reasonably grass free and put
down compost, cardboard and newspapers along with a thick layer of hay
if that would not be better in the long run."
Do try and remove as much of the grass as possible. But that would
You said, "even if it is built up some while I am waiting for the
mixture to decompose, eventually it will decompose enough to be able to
till back into the soil."
You're very welcome!
Now, there's an idea. I usually set several large plastic storage
containers on top of porous weed paper when planting season
comes before I've had a chance to till up an area. I prefer the
porous weed paper to the plastic stuff, but I'll warn you that
crab grass can grow on top of the porous weed paper.
Would the pool be deep enough? I guess that would depend on what
size pool you got, huh? I'll have to think about this one.
"Maybe you'd like to ask the Wizard for a heart."
"ElissaAnn" < firstname.lastname@example.org>
I've done two things to clear heavy grass for a garden. Once I laid
down newspaper, a few sheets thick and covered that with mulch. The
following spring I just tilled the mulch and rotted paper into the
ground. It worked quite well.
Last year I did a much larger area (40 x 50) by laying a heavy plastic
sheet on the ground. My father was clearing an area 20 x 100 the same
day and we both happened to decide on the same method. He chose black
plastic, I went with clear. Both worked about the same except where
water collected in mine I had to punch holes. The clear plastic works
by letting the sunlight shine through and heating the ground and traping
the heat in. It gets quite warm and kills the grass completely, except
where collected water keeps it cooler. The black plastic heats up and
that heat is transferred to the soil. Water on the plastic doesn't
matter as much because the plants are also cut off from light. The big
difference, really, was that the clear plastic couldn't take the UV and
broke apart. I've got lots of shreaded plastic while his black plastic
was good enough for a second spot. On the other hand, I think the clear
plastic heats the soil to a higher temperature and kills more weed
seeds. We both had weeds but I had fewer. So, either will work well.
In the spring, we just pulled up the sheets and tilled the dead grass in.
On 3/4/05 1:40 PM, in article DB4Wd.39714$ email@example.com, "Norma
There is no reason why you could not grow vegetables this year....on at
least part of your new garden area. I have no idea how big a plot you might
have...but start by removing the sod from one small section...one shovel
full at a time. But....before doing that, do the following:
Buy some heavy duty metal (mesh type) fencing material (2 inch spacing +
-) 8 feet long...even chicken wire will work but I prefer something heavier.
Buy (scrounge) qty 4 each 8 foot 2x4. Cut one in half (4 ft) and one
into four 2 foot lengths. Put the 8 footers on the ground parallel. Put a
four footer at each end and nail them to the 8 footers. (use 2 1/2 or 3 inch
In each corner nail in the 2 footers (these will be the legs). So, the 2
footers will be standing up in each of the corners. This does not have to be
pretty...:) Turn this frame over so it is standing on the legs. Nail the
mesh on top or use a stapler-anything to hold the mesh in place.
Put it in the middle of the new garden patch. As you dig up the sod
throw it on top of the mesh and let the sun dry it out. The worms will fall
back to the garden ground (where you want them,) and the sun will kill the
grass and any weeds there. After the sod has dried out, shake them and the
soil will fall off. You will then be left with dried out dead sod that you
then put into your compost box/bin. It will be light and easy to handle.
After you have removed enough sod from a section of your new garden add
compost-dig it in-plant away...
Then go on to the next section...You can do this a little at a time and
as you remove the sod from the second area, you can then plant something
else...then on to the next area etc. until all the sod is gone.
Even if you cannot finish removing the sod from the whole garden this
year you will at least be able to enjoy vegetables from the areas you have
PS: The most important thing about removing the sod is that it is removed!
and you won't have grass coming up again year after year...
On 3/23/05 6:57 AM, in article
Thanks. It was very detailed (sorry about that) but it is hard to know what
a poster knows to make an appropriately detailed (or not detailed) post. I
used that frame for my garden (90'x20') when I dug it up the first time. I
now use the frame for setting out transplants etc. although it is bigger
than I really need. I still throw sod on there at times...
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