Reclaiming a Garden Space

LokieOctober 19, 2012

I have a garden plot that has not been worked in 5 yrs. measures 63' x 23'. I have recently ripped out the standing dry grass and am thinking of laying that down along with 2 yr. old kitchen compost and a cubic yard or 2 of mushroom manure. Then I would cover this with cardboard & keep it damp for about 3 wks. I would then lay down black plastic over all ( to kill weed seeds) and come spring rototiller the plot a couple of times. hopefully then I could plant my garden (I would only use about 1/2 the plot). My question is, Would this be a good way to go so that I could have a garden come spring? I live on Vancouver Island. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks

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if an one has suggestions or can help me please email me at

    Bookmark   October 19, 2012 at 8:35PM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

There's not much point in killing surface weed seeds with sheet mulch if you are just going to rototill and bring up new weed seeds to the surface.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 12:34AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

Yes, suffocation. It would be much easier (than what you described) to mow it as low as possible now, then lay the cardboard right away, cover with mulch, compost, leaves, whatever you have. Leave it until spring, then pierce where needed to install your plants - whenever you're sure there's no grass or other stuff growing under there still. Keep an eye on the plant bases for weeds trying to sneak through the holes, if any, pull while tiny. This is a form of lasagna gardening.

If it was already a garden space, tilling should be unnecessary and I agree it will bring weed seeds to the surface, as well as disrupting the natural soil layers and structure. Add organic matter to the surface, the way mother nature does it.

Black plastic does not kill (all) weed seeds (if any) and there are always more weed seeds coming into a garden, from the wind and from critters. What plastic or landscape fabric can do is prevent seeds from growing if they do sprout by just being a physical barrier they can't get through. Cardboard does the same thing but degrades into the soil, so it does not need to be removed (or later become tangled in weed/desirable plant roots. As your cardboard and mulch layer become thinner, add more organic matter - mulch, compost, leaves, grass from the mower bag (as long as it's been mowed before making seed heads.)

    Bookmark   October 29, 2012 at 12:22PM
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jannie(z7 LI NY)

I was in the path of Sandy. We have loads of leaves on our property. I plan to rake everything over my vegetable garden, then cover with any cardboard I can get. Hope I can avoid roto-tiling next spring.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2012 at 9:44AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

Hi Jannie, sorry to hear you got hit by the storm. If it's already a garden area, the cardboard shouldn't be necessary. That step is usually used when there's grass or a patch of weeds that needs to be killed. If you feel you should use cardboard, it will stay in place and serve its' purpose much better under the leaves. Let us know how it goes!

    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 7:47AM
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