Starting new front yard garden - DFW area

mestines(8b)March 4, 2013

I've been growing a veggie garden in our front yard in Euless for 5 years. I'm starting anew because the layout of the current garden is just tacky, the grass keeps taking over (bermuda), the paths are just grass. Imagine a few faded wood beds in a row surrounded by grass. Ugly. So we want to start fresh with some good paths, raised cedar beds, and lots of veggies. Our neighbors and city do not have a problem with this being in the front, btw. It's in the front because the back is heavily shaded.

I was thinking of a grid system with landscape fabric in between the beds for the paths. Should we use mulch, stone, or gravel on top of the fabric? (I'm o.k. with Roundup in the pathways or some other bermudagrassicide.) I refuse to allow grass to grow between the beds due to past experience. I don't mind spot-treating any grass that happens to pop up. Other than that, I grow my garden organically, make compost, the whole bit.

Do we need to remove all the grass/weeds from the ground prior to laying the landscape fabric? Can we just scalp the ground with the weed eater and lay the fabric? Can we use 2 layers of the nice landscape fabric just to be sure it will keep the grass out?

What about black plastic sheeting instead of the fabric? I can't imagine bermuda being able to get through it. Can you put mulch on plastic or will it just wash away during the next downpour?

Veggie gardening in the front yard means I have to worry about the aesthetics of the whole thing. If it were in the back, I'd be down with just cinder blocks for the beds and carpet strips in the paths, lol.

What works for you guys for long term paths? I'm tired of redoing this garden every stinkin' year because the grass took over. I want to set it up and not have to do more than routine maintenance.

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Cheering you on! The Dallas Morning News ran an article and Thursday before last on front yard veggie gardens. They referenced a book which of course I cannot remember, but their website might still have it. They were lovely!

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 1:18PM
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rock_oak_deer(8b TX)

Bermuda grass must be killed first because it will grow through anything. It takes several intensive treatments. Get rid of all bermuda grass in your yard at the same time. If you leave even one root it will take over the gardens again and if your neighbors have bermuda it will come back into your yard very fast.

On the attached link there is a discussion of just this problem.

For grass and weeds other than bermuda you can take a look and "solarizing" with plastic sheeting. I remove all grass and weeds by hand first but you might save some work with this method. With wood mulch for paths, you don't need plastic sheeting once the weeds are gone.

Here is a link that might be useful: Getting rid of bermuda grass

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 2:14PM
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bostedo(8a tx-bp-dfw)

How are the squirrels in your neighborhood? I now only use landscape cloth under or behind stone, pavers, or decking because in our north Texas neighborhood they dig through most anything softer... and they LOVE digging in mulch down to about 5 inches. The cloth may hold them back when new, but eventually found myself chasing the little swatches of fiber cloth around the yard that they'd tear out. I favor using cardboard, B/W newsprint, or similar material under mulch because it's less expensive than the cloth, eventually goes away, and I feel less malevolence towards the critters when they inevitably tear some of it out; the mulch alone should keep things from coming up or rooting firmly if kept thick enough.

If not getting to it right away, you might consider a lite "solarizing" of areas you want to cover. It's still a little early for this in north Texas, but I've found cooking it a week or so under clear plastic just as it's coming out of dormancy will greatly weaken, if not kill, St. Augustine and Bermuda. I have good results doing this before tilling during the active growing season. Apparently a full treatment of several weeks will also kill seeds and most other organisms... don't think this is necessary if you're covering with mulch. I've included a link to one of several discussions about this already in the forums.

Sounds like a great project and nice that you can take advantage of a sunny yard in that way.

Here is a link that might be useful: Solarization thread

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 4:37PM
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PKponder TX(7b)

The most impressive barrier that I saw here first was roofing paper. I used old shingles (I had them on hand) under my pea gravel seating area over a scalped bermuda lawn and they worked well also. I echo not using landscape fabric or plastic because the bermuda will grow right through it and it gets destroyed when you try pulling the grass out.

Check out the link below about halfway down the page. Plantmaven used this beneath her gardens but it would work beautifully under paths!

Here is a link that might be useful: Bermuda topic

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 9:12PM
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I grow veggies in the San Antonio area. I started with a couple 4x8 raised beds and have added on over the years. I've tried a few different things as I've built the beds and paths over the years and there are two ways that worked the best for me:

1. Rent a sod cutter and remove the grass. Till afterwards then solarize. Build your beds/paths. I put down landscape fabric between the beds covered with sawdust (we have a lot of sawdust out here- you could use whatever you have available/looks right for your yard). I agree with the comment that bermuda grass will easily grow through landscape fabric, but if you remove it first it's not an issue.

or 2. Cut the grass really close, solarize, till, rake out as much of the dead stuff as you can, solarize again. Then lay down lots of newspapers and cover. Grass popped up in a couple of places when I did it this way, but overall it worked pretty well.

I know these are both really time and labor intensive, but you'll save a lot of time and labor on the back end trying to get rid of grass that wasn't killed.

Another thing I had problems with is the edges of the beds where the raised beds butted up against the lawn. I'd find runners in the middle of the beds that had come in that far. I finally ended up putting a narrow border (?8 inches or so) around the whole vegetable area with metal edging. When the grass starts creeping in under the edging I can spot treat with Round up before it gets into the vegetable beds. I just have to remember to go back and dig out the dead stuff before it resurrects itself. Tenacious stuff.

I hope this helps. I think it's great you can do veggie gardens in the front yard. Post some pictures sometime if you have a chance.


This post was edited by southofsa on Tue, Mar 5, 13 at 9:02

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 8:50AM
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