Get rid of grass - how ?

garrai81March 2, 2014

I have a 20' x 20' stretch of grass that I am going to be using for a garden.

What is the easiest way to get rid of this grass?

Can I use a rototiller to get rid of the grass and just plough it under?

Or will the grass keep growing?

I would rather not spend many hours with a shovel, scraping the grass from the surface.

Thanks.

Mac

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

It will come back. Sod cutters used to be available from rental agencies here, maybe they still are.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 6:09PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
OregonGrape

Tilling the soil will encourage weed growth. Find a good way to take off the sod layer. That will be the easy part. The hard part will be keeping grass and weeds from growing back.

After the sod is removed, you'll have to stop the re-growth of grass and the re-seeding of weeds. The best way I've seen this done is to apply a heavy layer of Roundup (the people who did this literally painted the Roundup onto the soil with a paint roller) and then bury the area in about 5" of bark mulch. You will almost certainly have some grass/weeds growing back at some point, but this will kill the vast majority of it.

This post was edited by OregonGrape on Sun, Mar 2, 14 at 19:54

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 7:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
PRO
George Three LLC

some ideas:

1. roundup, if you are not afraid of it, is a good way to go. the benefit is that it kills plants, but leaves the soil microbes unaffected. then top with something. then wait a few weeks and hit it again.

2. sheet mulching is a pain, is bad for the soil, is ugly, but i've seen it work.

3. 1 foot minimum arborist chips. for 20x20 that would probably be 5 yards or so. will take a year or so. and if it has edges that hit something like a sidewalk, you'll have to reduce chip height so you might have to remove sod.

4. HIRE IT OUT. here is something i wish i did. i was talking to the guy delivering some wall rock to me, and he mentioned that he just did a job where he removed sod in a small area, brought in topsoil and leveled. $200 in labor. (plus topsoil and delivery). probably bad for soil, but it gets DONE and quickly. but obviously... $$$$

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 11:15AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
dawn8b

Lasagna gardening!!

No need to get rid of the grass, simply start layering on top. First I laid newspaper over the area, then started adding in the contents of my compost bin, lawn clippings, the neighbour's lawn clippings and in no time at all (a few months over the summer) I was planting my garden.

I did this back in 2010 and haven't had any grass regrow.

I can't figure out how to post more than one picture so this is the after:

This post was edited by dawn8b on Mon, Mar 3, 14 at 14:18

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 2:14PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
dawn8b

And this is the before:

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 2:16PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
garrai81

Thanks for the ideas.

I used to use roundup - but I never will again.

The news paper idea looks interesting, but I don't have compost bin contents to use. I bury my kitchen waste in my garden (future garden).

I got a $400 quote to strip the grass and take away the sod, but that is too much for me.

I think I will see about renting a sod cutter and then make a mound of the sod behind my shop, and wait.

Thanks.

Mac

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 7:37AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
plantknitter(8)

what is the soil like under the grass? You may need to purchase something (compost, arborist chips, etc) to improve it anyway.

dig the perimeter sod 18-24 inches and turn the sod pieces upside down on the grass in the center of the bed. then cover all with a truckload mixture of compost and sand or planting mix.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 11:29AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
PRO
George Three LLC

the downfall of the lasagne method is that its not that great for the soil. the newspaper layer impedes the gas exchange and is bad for soil microbes. not that harming your soil is the end of the world (it will recover just fine). its just a disadvantage of the method.

i've also seen people not apply enough compost, and have little bits of newspaper and cardboard sticking out for years.

but it is an easy and somewhat effective method.

if you want something similar, just apply a foot of arborist chips. they will kill the grass and at the same time improve your soil. the disadvantage is that its hard to get a whole foot thick at the edges, so you might have to manually remove that part.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 11:44AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tcstoehr

I do it the old fashioned way. I take my garden spade and drive it in as deep as I can, turn the chunk over grass-side down, and chop it up a bit on top, and make sure all the grass is covered. Repeat 400 times. Hard work but goes much faster than you might think. I sometimes do it one piece at a time whenever I feel like it. I would do this in the cool fall weather after the rains have softened the soil adequately. The weeds and grass are buried and completely die and rot away over the winter. In the spring I run my hand-powered tiller over the bed and rake it flat. Ready to rock n roll. And that would be the last time I would break that soil.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 12:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
oliveoyl3

Sheet mulch (aka lasagna garden) -

overlapping cardboard + 6" mulch or compost materials

bagged materials are more expensive than bulk

freebies:
*feed store straw sweepings (sometimes hay mixed in, but at bottom doesn't matter) -- you load up
*partially composted horse manure with bedding or chicken manure with bedding - load at a farm or horse boarding facility-- usually glad you're taking it & it comes loaded with the red worms for composting
*rabbit, llama, alpaca or goat manure can be used also & usually not much bedding, but as a dry-ish pellet. SKIP cow manures because very weedy. SKIP any manure from animals fed weed free hay. Ask what they feed.
*used coffee grounds -- ask coworkers to save it (you provide the bucket/container)
*if you can get it -- spent vegetable or fruit waste from cafeteria, restaurant, or grocery -- chop roughly with machete & spread thinly as a layer

Top it with a uniform mulch like straw if you can get it. Especially if a visible location. Will make it look great!

A bale of oat or wheat straw will likely cover the entire area 1" thick.

If you're concerned about starting seeds in the mixture in a few months you could always purchase compost to spread lightly on top of your planting rows, wide rows, etc.

You won't bring any weeds to the surface OR grass with this method. You don't have to till it ever either if you chose. Many of us have done this & if growing annual crops works great. You will need to add compost each year, but in lesser amounts like 1" or so next year.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 6:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
mikebotann(8a SE of Seattle)

garrai81, what was your problem with RoundUp?
I use it and then till a week or so later. Do you have a tiller? I use mine more than my lawnmower.
I enjoy spading too. For me, it's relaxing, and while I'm spading I can contour. Next I plant, and then lay down a mulch of wood chips. Last, I poke in a groundcover. Easier than mulching around them in some cases.
Mike

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 6:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
OregonGrape

Targeted and restrained use of Roundup is better for your soil ecology than newspaper and cardboard.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 9:15PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
garrai81

Thanks for all the ideas.

Based on the scientific evidence, I do not use roundup poison.

I don't have a tiller.

The cardboard method is too involved for me. I am a single working dad.

I think I will look into getting a hoe, something I used to have. I do recall that, with a little work, one could pull up sod in nice strips.

Mac

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 8:33AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
mikebotann(8a SE of Seattle)

The easy way is to cut the sod in squares with a shovel and pry it out with a fork and into a wheelbarrow. A sharp shovel works a lot better cutting the sod than a dull one. As obvious as that seems, few people look at a shovel to see whether it's sharp or not. Prying the sod out with a fork is a lot easier than using a shovel.
I did about 150 feet of sod in the middle of my back driveway that way and it went fast.
Mike

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 10:42AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
PRO
George Three LLC

for taking out sod manually, i like using a transplanting spade. relatively flat head, and the thin spade is easy to get thru. then i use a hand maul/fork combo to pull it out.

its really not that hard, and overturned sod has performed well for me in veggie garden beds.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2014 at 10:48AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
garrai81

Eeldip,

Thanks.

What does a hand maul fork combo look like?

Mac

    Bookmark   March 7, 2014 at 8:49AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
PRO
George Three LLC

HA, yea, I meant mattock fork! maul, mattock....

but for real, that is my #1 tool. i use it to plant anything below a #1. i use it for quick edging adjustment. its great for weeding. etc etc.

Here is a link that might be useful: mattock fork

    Bookmark   March 7, 2014 at 11:45AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
garrai81

Eeldip,

Thanks.

I see that the mattock has a 14" handle. Does that mean that you are on your hands and knees when removing sod?

Mac

    Bookmark   March 7, 2014 at 11:52AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
PRO
George Three LLC

i just use the fork side to pull out the sod, maybe i get a bit low. hunched even.

the hard work is the spading, and that is with a full sized shovel.

i find that repeated switching from a long handled tool to a short handled tool is easier on the body over the long haul.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 1:30AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
mikebotann(8a SE of Seattle)

Putting RoundUp on dirt with a roller is a complete waste of product and shows me they don't know a thing about how it works.

I don't have a short handled shovel, fork, or rake on the place and wouldn't use one if it was. I'm getting too old to bend over
unnecessarily. I use a long handled construction shovel for all digging, including transplanting and edging.
Mike

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 3:26PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
OregonGrape

It was a messy mixture of bare dirt, weeds, and alien grasses. It was also 1/3 of an acre, and when you're dealing with that much land, it's often much easier to coat an entire area than spray tens of thousands of weeds and grass shoots individually.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 3:47PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
garrai81

I found that using a shovel to first cut two lines (the sides) the width of the fork (an inch or two deep), then going back with the fork and pulling out the sod works fine. Thanks for the idea.

Is it ok to then put the upside down sod wherever I want to, to use it like compost?

Or should I wait until the grass dies in the sun?

Thanks.

Mac

    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 8:37AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
mikebotann(8a SE of Seattle)

I put it upside down and cover it with soil or woodchips and treat it like compost. There always seems to be a low place in the shade for it.
Mike

    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 9:09AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
OregonGrape

If you dig up the soil, it's important that you cover it with a few inches of bark mulch or wood chips. Weeds, grass, and other ruderals will sprout very easily at this time of the year in freshly-disturbed soil. Starving the soil surface of sunlight will retard this.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 12:56PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Anyone "wintersowing" tomatoes in the PNW?
I wintersow/spring sow everything else and have for...
nonconformist_nymphette
Holy aphids Batman!
With the arctic freeze moving on, I went out yesterday...
Bear999
Does soil "wear out"?
I have two gardening friends who don't know each other...
dottyinduncan
Crape Myrtles in PNW - trick to get them to bloom?
I have three Crape Myrtles I planted that have been...
wynswrld98
Re:Anyone growing citrus in PNW
Hi everyone, I have an indoor tangerine plant for 4-5...
sweetflowers
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™