Turning Grass into a Garden Bed - Mothering Forums

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Old 04-12-2010, 07:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I currently have a nice garden space but I'm quickly running out of room to plant the starts I already have (let alone the ones I'm going to have shortly!). I'd like to expand my garden but it's surrounded by grass. Does anyone have any tricks or been-there-done-that information to share on how to turn a grass area into a garden space this late in the year? Raised beds are not an option unfortunately-- too costly (this would be a 200 sq. ft. area) and we don't plan to be living in this house next year. The good news is that we have some fantastic dirt under that grass!

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Old 04-12-2010, 07:29 PM
 
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I currently have a nice garden space but I'm quickly running out of room to plant the starts I already have (let alone the ones I'm going to have shortly!). I'd like to expand my garden but it's surrounded by grass. Does anyone have any tricks or been-there-done-that information to share on how to turn a grass area into a garden space this late in the year? Raised beds are not an option unfortunately-- too costly (this would be a 200 sq. ft. area) and we don't plan to be living in this house next year. The good news is that we have some fantastic dirt under that grass!
Last spring, about this time, I decided to turn a patch of our backyard into a veggie garden. I dug the sod out about 8 inches down, and flipped it over. I broke up what I could on the top and then tossed a few bags of composted garden soil from Menards over it.

By the end of the season, it wasn't exactly pretty--there were definite patches of grass coming through--but never enough grass to interfere with the veggies I was growing. And for the first year in that location, it was a fabulous garden--for example, my 5 roma tomato plants produced over 600 tomatoes altogether. About two weekends ago, I flipped the soil again to "till" the area (integrating in some bloodmeal as I did it) and kill off the remaining grass.
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Old 04-12-2010, 07:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the reply! I wonder if I could just rototill the area? My landlord has one I can use.

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Old 04-12-2010, 08:18 PM
 
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If you don't care about having a pretty bed, you could definitely just rototill and pick out as much of the grass as you can. If you have free access to a rototiller, you can't get much cheaper than that! I did this for a bed last year, and there definitely was grass coming up in it by the end of the year, but the productivity was fine. This year I'm double-digging the bed and removing the remaining grass.
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Old 04-12-2010, 09:00 PM
 
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...and we don't plan to be living in this house next year. The good news is that we have some fantastic dirt under that grass!
Since you already know you won't be living there next year, may I suggest checking with the landlord first to ensure that would be okay? S/he will have to rent the place again next year and if you have removed the grass, it is an additional expense for them.

As an alternative, could you possibly do container gardening this year? Then you can also take your garden with you when you move!
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Old 04-12-2010, 09:08 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Since you already know you won't be living there next year, may I suggest checking with the landlord first to ensure that would be okay? S/he will have to rent the place again next year and if you have removed the grass, it is an additional expense for them.

As an alternative, could you possibly do container gardening this year? Then you can also take your garden with you when you move!
Great point! We do have permission to expand the garden. The house is on half an acre--we'd actually buy this property but they aren't willing to sell Around here a huge garden space ready to go is actually a huge selling point.

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Old 04-12-2010, 09:42 PM
 
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Just get a shovel and dig up the grass. Add some soil/compost/manure the the new grassless spot and away you go.

Dh dug up our entire front lawn this way, just cutting narrow rectangles and rolling up the grass. Our neighbours took it to fill in a section of their backyard.
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Old 04-12-2010, 10:14 PM
 
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In that case, I would post on Freecycle.org. There is almost always someone who will want what you are trying to be rid of, and they might be able to use it in their lawn which saves you the effort of digging it.

Alternatively, you could use the grass as compost materials or offer it as such again on Freecycle.
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Old 04-12-2010, 10:32 PM
 
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if you can get your hands on a sod cutter they work really nicely--we made raised beds one year using sod as the side-walls. anyways, if you cut the sod off first, it's a lot easier to rototill, and you wont have the grass growing back. if you have a 'food not lawns' group around you, you might be able to get help to convert your lawn to garden space.

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Old 04-12-2010, 11:15 PM
 
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I've expanded my garden my covering the area with black plastic and leaving it until everything's dead underneath (a week or two or more, depending on the sun), scraping off the grass/weeds, covering with a thick layer of newspaper, and then piling up composted soil on top.

This has worked great for me!
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Old 04-14-2010, 02:43 PM
 
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May not be time for you to get it and read it, but the book Gardening When it Counts by Steve Solomon has a great section on how to KILL grass for garden space.

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Old 04-14-2010, 03:18 PM
 
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I'm working on turning a big patch of grass into a garden right now. I've just been doing what a PP said- digging down about 8 inches, flipping it over, using my hands to get off as much of the soil and pulling out any deep roots as I go. It's a LOT of work, but good fun work IMO. Then I got some compost and composted manure to mix in. So far, there isn't any new grass growing, but its only been a couple of weeks. I guess I'll see what happens.

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