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Smothering The Grass

 

Report From An Opinionated Gardener – March 20

I did a seminar on Alternatives To Lawn at the garden center today and one of the things we talked about was how to get rid of the grass. You can cut it into strips and roll it up à la sod or rototill it under. Some people use an herbicide to kill it, but that’s not my style. My favorite way to convert a lawn to garden is to carpet the area with newspaper and bark mulch.

The paper smothers the grass and the mulch hides the papers and holds them down. After letting the mulch and papers sit for three months or longer the paper can be pushed aside in an area large enough to dig a hole for planting.

Should your soil be really poor it’s a good idea to spread a few inches of compost/composted manure/loam or any combination of these before you apply the top dressing of mulch. That said, you can be assured that the decomposed lawn amends the soil and the newspaper rots allowing the natural process of soil improvement to continue.

Beyond converting turf into gardens where other plants can be placed, what’s the larger message here? I guess that it’s this: sometimes the simplest means to an end are not only the easiest, but the most effective.

A small patch of compact soil and sad grass that I wanted to get rid of.

So I brought out the old newspapers,

and laid them down overlapping the edges and covering them with bark mulch.

Then I left the area to sit for a few months,

and planted annuals here last summer. This season? I haven't decided what I'll put in this area.

6 Responses to “Smothering The Grass”

  1. 1
    Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp:

    A helpful show and tell, C.L. I’ve made tons of gardens with the newspaper, compost and mulch technique.

  2. 2
    CL Fornari:

    Jo Ellen – I’m glad to know it works as well in the midwest as in the northeast! We’ve already got areas scoped out to smother weedy places this spring. Now if only the warmer temps would arrive….

  3. 3
    Mary Ann Brueckner:

    HI CL,
    Thanks for this bit of information. I’ve been thinking of replacing large parts of my lawn and will give this a try. We have AWFUL sandy soil and our lawn struggles by mid-summer.
    Mary Ann

  4. 4
    CL Fornari:

    Mary Ann, If you have sandy soil you might want to add a layer of compost/composted manure either on top of the paper or under the paper…or both! That way you’ll be amending the soil and smothering the lawn at the same time.

  5. 5
    Lose Your Lawn - Waking Times : Waking Times:

    [...] of ripping out your lawn — a monumental task, no doubt — you can compost it in place. There are many ways to do this, but the principle is always the same: Deny your lawn [...]

  6. 6
    Lose Your Lawn | Talesfromthelou's Blog:

    [...] of ripping out your lawn — a monumental task, no doubt — you can compost it in place. There are many ways to do this, but the principle is always the same: Deny your lawn [...]