turn small back yard into 4 season garden

Gregw(KY)July 31, 2003

I have a very small urban back yard (all grass) and would like to round up the whole thing and begin a year round garden. I am a novice gardener and would like some advice on the best way to proceed and/or the best reference book to read before I begin. Thanks in advance, Greg zone 6, Ky.

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kendrab225(z7 Alabama)

I recommend Square foot Gardening by Mel Bartholew & Four Season Harvest by Eliot Coleman. I have read hundreds of gardening books and these are the only methods I really use.
I am also in the process of turning my city lot into a complete garden. It was all grass, shrubs, & trees when I moved here. It has taken some time. I dug up the grass one section at a time and replaced it with compost, manure, & vermiculite. I currently have 2 long beds 4 feet by 25 feet each. I plan to build 2 more beds this summer with the same measurements.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2003 at 10:18AM
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OK I know this is not the "organic" forum, but when you said round up did you mean Round-Up? No need for that! How raised beds and the lasagna method? Make a few at a time...3-5 feet wide by however long you want. Scrounge some cardboard boxes (the bigger the better) from grocery or home improvement stores. Soak the cardboard well, and cover with grass clippings, mulch, straw, leaves etc and start planting. The grass underneath will just die and add more organic matter to the soil. If you don't want to spend (or don't have) money for raised beds, just build the piles right on the ground. Lay the cardboard and just pile the stuff on. You can gradually end up covering up all (or most) of your lawn. You could leave grass paths the width of your mower, or you could eventually cover the whole lawn. Just make sure you put down a good layer of cardboard or newspaper to keep the grass from growing up, and keep adding all the organic material you can come up with. Watch the curbs for grass clippings and leaves.

Kathy in Illinois

    Bookmark   July 31, 2003 at 12:13PM
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What does Round-up actually mean anyway?

    Bookmark   August 11, 2003 at 3:22AM
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Round-up is an herbicide. It is a chemical that kills vegitation. Personally, I find there are lots of easier, less dangerous and more attractive ways to deal with weeds. In extreme cases, I suppose round-up can be useful, but generally speaking, I would advise against it.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2003 at 10:10AM
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Kathy, I like your idea of using the cardboard and newspaper. I am new to this forum, but love gardening. I am already using newspapers on my beds to prevent the weeds from popping up, but have never thought of putting down cardboard straight on the grass. Are plants able to send their roots through the dead grass? Must try it.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2003 at 11:41AM
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wildrose_SoCal(SoCal, 9b)

Yes, plants grow right thru dead grass. The biggest problem is killing it. Grass can be stubborn. My best garden bed is made with overturned sod. It composted beautifully and has an excellent texture, fluffy and soft. That was last year, and this year it is needing a good supply of compost, but it is still my best bed. I have 4 beds, each made a bit differently as I learned how.

The best advise I used when I got started was to start small and add another bed when I was ready. It is much better to tend a small plot well then to have effort and supplies wasted on too much area. My 4 beds total about 200sqft, and that is plenty for me! I grew and learned, one bed at a time. These 4 beds sometimes get away from me a bit, so I know I have enough.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2003 at 12:40AM
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Marybearry(z7 Smoky Mtn/TN)

Greg, I definitely would not use round up. After all, 1/ you're gonna be eating stuff you grow there, and roundup can't be that good for you and 2/ it will make it harder to grow things.
I agree with all the people above that said to do lasagna beds. Here's how I do mine and it works great for me:
Put a layer of cardboard down over the area, then a layer of newspaper. Wet it down real well. Cover with hay and leaves, and add some manure if you have it. Cover that layer with compost. Keep it moist, Let it sit 2 or 3 months, and plant. If you need to plant immediately, just make a hole in the compost/hay and plant through it whereever you want to put a plant in.
I loosely follow Ruth Stout's No-till method, and highly recommend her books. she is gone now, but she is my very favorite. lots of wisdom. Happy gardening.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2003 at 2:42PM
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