first time gardener

kat0411September 30, 2012

Hello! My husband and I recently bought our first home and have decided we really want a garden. The side of our house is going to be a perfect area, but it has thick grass covering it. My question is,do I need to remove the grass first, or just cover it in soil? Also, what soil is best to use? Were hoping to grow veggies, herbs and hopefully a few flowers! Thank yall for your help, and I'm sure I will be on here often!

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Lynn Marie

Welcome, Kat!

You will get a lot of really good advice here. The first thing we need to know is where you are. That way people close to you can offer you more specific advice.

You will need to DEFINITELY get rid of the grass one way or another. Most of us prefer to kill it by covering it. I recommend covering it in cardboard then covering the cardboard with good soil. By the time the cardboard decomposes, the grass will be dead. It might be a good idea to build a raised bed. You just need something about 6 or more inches high to hold the dirt in. Super simple - a bottomless box made out of scrap whatever, cardboard, and dirt. After that is done, get to planting! There are a lot of crops you can plant now and grow over the winter too.

I am assuming that if you have grass there, you also have full sun. If you don't have full sun there, you might want to pick a spot that does.

I'm sure lots of others will chime in very shortly with more advice.

Happy Gardening!

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 7:42PM
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daninthedirt(Cent TX; HZ10, Sunset z30, USDA z8a)

Good advice, but it also depends a little on the kind of grass you have. If it's Bermuda, just covering and waiting for it to brown out won't do it. It's not dead. It'll come back with a vengeance from the roots in the spring.

If I were you, I'd get some soil fumigant. Vapam was good, but they took it off the market because folks tried to use it indoors for some reason. You'd sprinkle it on, and cover for a month. Your pests are gone. Then uncover and dig. Some people used it every year, but not me. Not sure what the favored chemical is these days. Might want to ask at a local garden store.

Covering the soil in the middle of the summer produces extreme temperatures that can also kill a lot, but it's getting kind of late in the year for decent solarization, and the high temperatures really don't penetrate that deep in any case.

It will take some work, but you're probably best off completely removing the top two inches of soil, and replacing that with a compost mix that you dig in. A raised bed is a good idea if just to make room for a lot of added compost (say, six inches or so). This is an excellent job to attack in the fall, if just that the bed will be in great shape come springtime.

Best of luck.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 11:02PM
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weldontx(z 8a TX)

Some will disagree, but my suggestion is to use Roundup to kill the grass...kill it at least 18 - 24 inches wider than the garden area. After the grass is dead then do the compost trick. Darin is ABSOLUTELY right about bermuda coming back with a vengeance! If in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area and have a pick up or trailer, Living Earth has quality compost that you can buy by the yard (cubic yd) that will make a great start for a raised bed or just incorporated into your current soil.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 8:31PM
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daninthedirt(Cent TX; HZ10, Sunset z30, USDA z8a)

That's a good idea about using Roundup. The advantage is that it's easy and cheap. I think it won't harm worms, though it won't kill bad insects either. The disadvantage, I believe, is that it isn't quite as effective a herbicide as some of the fumigants that have been commonly available (but may not be anymore).

There are some species (bamboo, nutsedge) for which Roundup simply doesn't work. There are even grass varieties that are becoming Roundup resistant, though those will be found near farms that use the herbicide regularly. Roundup is moderately persistant, so if you use it now, you won't be growing anything in that bed during this winter.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 7:56PM
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