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Its a little early yet but...

PostPosted: Feb 14, 2005 1:08 pm
by SnowCrazed
DH just informed me that he is going to rent a tiller for me in the spring so that I can go ahead and get the freakin lawn out of the way in one sweep LOL. He must of been reading my mind about the back lawn disapearing as I snuck in more and more plants and made the beds ever so slightly bigger year by year in my mind... (so long as I don't touch his front lawn, he made me promise!!!) When he came home for lunch he saw me staring forlornly out to the backyard with vissions of grandour in my eyes, now that I can actually see the lawn, and made the pronouncement. So, having that all said, I have never before used a tiller and had always broken ground the hard way. Does the tiller actually kill the grass or will I still have to pick it all out by hand?

PostPosted: Feb 14, 2005 3:05 pm
by JaneG
It doesn't kill the grass. :( It just churns up the soil. It also exposes all sorts of new seeds that were under the sod, and now those can grow! I always till the veggie garden in the spring which makes it nice and workable to plant into but the veggie garden is pretty grass-free anyway.

If I'm trying to kill grass to make a new bed I have better luck with this method . . .

Decide on the size and shape of the area and use Round-Up or similar product to kill the grass. Once the grass is starting brown, I start the lasagne method. I spread layers of newspaper, then leaves, bagged compost, pine needles, mushroom compost, some wood chips, anything I can get my hands on, over the area, the deeper the better. This smothers the grass and gives you a nice mix to plant into once it starts to break down. You are supposed to wait months or a year before planting into it. Sometimes I wait, sometimes I plant right into it by mounding lots of good planting soil/mix right where the plants are going, then fill in between them with other stuff. If you plant into it right away you have to watch and make sure that as the lasagne settles it doesn't expose the roots of your plants. You will have to keep filling in when this happens.

PostPosted: Feb 14, 2005 3:22 pm
by Soummer
He could probably rent one of those sod cutter/remover thingys at the same place as the tiller.

Jane's idea is very good, but it wouldn't work for me because I don't have the materials to do the layering. Can't even work up a good compost heap! That's what happens when you don't cook and eat out A LOT :oops:

PostPosted: Feb 14, 2005 4:32 pm
by impatience
Snowcrazed, use either the lasagna method or the sod removal method. Do not just chop up the lawn with the tiller or you will just hate the result. That doggone grass will haunt you the rest of your days and you will not enjoy your new garden.

I have done the lasagna method and it works wonders. I have also done the sod removal (but by flat end shovel-not a good way to do it for the ole' body). Both work well.

Good luck on your new garden! Don't forget the pics!! Dreaming is so much fun!

PostPosted: Feb 14, 2005 4:55 pm
by nimblewill
If you do a good thick lasagna bed with cardboard or a thick layer of newspaper on the bottom, I would dispense with the Roundup. The grass won't be able to get through the paper and will be suffocated. If you don't want to do a lasagna bed or can't wait for one, I'd Roundup the grass, add as much organic matter as I could, then rototill the whole area. Old sod is a great source of organic matter and the Roundup will prevent any future trouble with (that) grass in your bed. Besides, removing the sod sounds too much like work.

Another consideration: If you're happy with the beds you prepared in the past, you might want to stick as close as possible to the technique you used back then, but substituting chemical or mechanical muscle for your own.

PostPosted: Feb 14, 2005 5:09 pm
by Mary Ann
Lasagna is the way to go, smothers the grass roots and the dormant weed seeds, then use the money, time and labor you've saved to stock up on lasagna ingredients.

Good sources would be riding stables, Starbucks, yardwaste disposal sites, and your neighborhood curbs when folks are bagging up their rotting leaves in the next few months. The bags themselves can be used as the bottom layer.

If you're still short of smothering materials, you can sink potted plants right into the beds and continue collecting and adding grass clippings, wood chips, leaves, etc.

new beds

PostPosted: Feb 14, 2005 6:22 pm
by jay dee
If you don't want to wait for the lasagna bed to percolate, go ahead and till under the grass, skipping the Round Up. Plant your plants and then put heavy newspaper down between the plants and mulch on top of the newspaper. This will kill any viable grass and the tilled up seeds. Sprinkle the exposed areas around the plants with a pre-emergent and that will keep the seeds from germinating.

Enjoy your new garden.

jay dee

PostPosted: Feb 14, 2005 7:00 pm
by thy
Never ask for one way to do things here :lol:

How is your soil ?

Do you have snow ?

As soon as the snow melt, you just lay layers (3 to 5 pages) of newspapers where you want the new beds, then add a layer of what your soil need, grit or manure or compost or... when the soil is warm in the spring you just rototile it all. The grass will be dead at that time, you will have a good soil to plant in and nature will thank you for not using Round Up

PostPosted: Feb 15, 2005 7:01 am
by SnowCrazed
Oh my goodness, now I am even more confused! Maybe I better not even jsut rent a tiller... I don't have the layering meterials (I don't recieve the paper or have much organic meterial to top it off) I'd hate to use round up seeing as so far my garden (all but the lawn) has been compleately organic, But I might go ahead and use it first then roto till, since it is the lawn I am going to get rid of anyway. The soil is nice and black round here, but can be sandy in a spot or two, and soggy in a couple of places (almost boggy). much work to do! My whole backyard is going to be a garden bed lol I want it all in flowers and plants MUHAHAHAHA! :evil: :bd:

PostPosted: Feb 15, 2005 10:29 am
by nimblewill
As an alternative to Roundup, you might try covering the bed area with clear plastic. If the area gets some sun, the grass will be cooked by the heat. I've done this successfully with black plastic, but clear is supposed to work better because of the greenhouse effect. Even a shady area may get enough sun if you lay the plastic before the trees leaf out.

Also, since it sounds like you've been blessed with good soil, why not kill the grass, dig and amend the planting holes, then cover everything else with mulch. Have you tried getting coffee grounds from local coffee shops? A layer of grounds under the mulch would encourage the earthworms to "till" your bed. This time of year, there aren't many people collecting grounds so you might be surprised how many you can collect in a short period of time. I'm getting about 2 cubic yards a month.

PostPosted: Feb 15, 2005 3:21 pm
by wild4flowers
I don't received the paper either, but my neighbors are more than happy to save theirs for me. I spread fertilizer on top of the sod (it seems to help the decomposition, and then leaves nutrients there under the mulch. then I wet it down and cover it with overlaping multi-sheets of newspapers (3-6 sheets) , then I wet the whole thing down with my hose sprayer. Finally I cover it all with wood chips. I also don't have access to the compost and other layers. This words well for me. Each year I layer more wood chips on top as the old ones break down.


PostPosted: Feb 15, 2005 5:02 pm
by thy
Bill are you sure of the clear plastic ???

Here we use it to heat up the soil in the spring to help early potatoes and strawberries, and they grow fine under it... I do have good experiences with black plastic... only thing... it is ugly :lol:

You can cover with what ever you have, old blakets, wood, everything that do not allow the sun to start photosyntese ( SP)

PostPosted: Feb 15, 2005 5:38 pm
by Mary Ann
Finding sources for free organic materials is half the fun. It's rewarding to know I am keeping these materials out of the landfill while improving the environment and my soil at the same time. Being basically cheap and a little bit resourceful, I've found more good sources than I could ever use within 10 minutes of my house. But I have to go out and haul them home.

The biggest thrill is feeling the heat and watching the vapor rise out of a compost pile, tending it, then using that living compost to feed the soil, or smelling the earthy aroma of fall leaves turned to leafmold by spring, or tossing coffee grounds across the beds to feed the earthworms.

The same materials are used for lasagna, which breaks down faster due to increased contact with soil, air, and moisture. Pile it up and let it rot. We just help nature along some.

PostPosted: Feb 15, 2005 9:15 pm
by nimblewill
Pia, I have never actually used the clear plastic, but I think it would work if there's enough sun. Here is a web site that discusses it:

PostPosted: Feb 16, 2005 6:25 am
by thy
Think it explain the differencies good. I am far up North and the sun intensity is low in the spring normally it can't bake anything :wink:


PostPosted: Feb 16, 2005 11:04 pm
by petal*pusher
I think the secret here is how QUICKLY do you want to get this garden in?!?!

I've used the lasagna method, the Round-up method, and the "till up the grass method". My favorite method is to just rent a sod-cutter, cut and remove the sod, till in whatever your soil needs.......and start planting!!

It's important to either kill or remove the soil before planting, and using a rototiller can cause a lot of problems down the line for you. Chopping up all of those grass roots then exposing them to nice soft soil just encourages new growth! Tons of weed seeds will easily make themselves nice and comfy here too.

Take a look at my gardens.....the one showing my new gardening shed was made with a sod-cutter; and I could start the planting the very next day! Hope this helps!....p :wink:

PostPosted: Feb 18, 2005 7:48 pm
by Roxanne
Just plain old cardboard you can get from any business works wonders. I do plan a year ahead, though. I dug up sod for a bed 4 years ago and said never again! I put this down in Oct. and the pic is from then. We have had so much snow and rain this winter that the cardboard is now saturated and deterioating pretty rapidly. Even if I have to remove some of the thicker stuff this spring to plant, I will use newspaper in those spots before I mulch it out.

PostPosted: Feb 19, 2005 1:17 pm
by mommatina
WOW, this has been the most informative thread...I have always wondered what lasagna method was... :oops: I didn't want to appear to dumb so I never ask... I have beeen wanting to make my backyard into a garden also, but hated the thought of tilling everything... now I know what to do... Thanks everyone.. can't wait to get started now...

PostPosted: Feb 19, 2005 1:23 pm
by SnowCrazed
Glad my difficulty and ignorance could be of some use to you :lol:

A Voice of experience

PostPosted: Feb 21, 2005 6:40 pm
by oldcoot
DO NOT JUST TILL UP THE GRASS. It only makes it multiply. O.C. lifted all his Old Iris two years ago, divided and replanted them. He first made the mistake of tilling up the Old Bed and raking it good and retilling it. He then covered the new bed with Black Cow, Compost, and Mulch. Last summer it appeared the only thing he did was fertilize the grass. It was worse than it was BEFORE he tilled. This past fall he put out a lot of roundup and will see what happens. He heared on another forum that a good way to get rid of grass, is to use roundup, and then when it dies back, use one of these small propane torches plummers use and BURN the dead grass off. Seems it kills the grass, and doesn't bring up any more seeds. O.C. is desperate enough to try that this summer as he doesn't want to re-dig up his Iris just yet.

That Funny and VERY Friendly Old Coot , named John, saying, "SPRING" is coming and in just 26 more days" and counting !!!