General Discussion:

New vegie garden in a grassed area


Messages posted to thread:

From:Date:Zone:
Catherine12-Apr-04 04:37 AM EST 3b   
Nancy12-Apr-04 02:36 PM EST 5   
Catherine13-Apr-04 03:48 AM EST 3b   
Rocks16-Apr-04 07:42 PM EST 6b   
Catherine18-Apr-04 06:06 AM EST 3b   
Rocks19-Apr-04 01:16 PM EST 6b   
Catherine20-Apr-04 03:34 AM EST 3b   
Rocks20-Apr-04 06:39 PM EST 6b   


Subject: New vegie garden in a grassed area
From: Catherine
Zone: 3b
Date: 12-Apr-04 04:37 AM EST

Good morning! I am a new member and am looking for advice on starting a vegetable garden in an area of my yard that is at this time grass. The lawn is sparse in some areas and root-bound in other areas. This area is also very dry. I am wondering if I should dig out the old grass and then bring in new soil and organic matter or can i just till it up and add the new material? The area is in direct sun and well protected from the elements from my house on the north-east side and a fence opposite. There is also a large maple tree to the west of this spot. Is it possible for me to have a crop this year?


Subject: RE: New vegie garden in a grassed area
From: Nancy
Zone: 5
Date: 12-Apr-04 02:36 PM EST

Sounds like an ambitious project, Catherine.

I'd strongly recommend you either remove or kill off the grass before you till. If you just till it under, the remaining grass bits will still grow and you'll never be rid of it.

If you want to plant for a crop this year, you have two options. You can remove the turf manually, which is what I did, but was really labour intensive. Or you can do a 'lasagne' method by spreading out about 10 layers thick of newspaper over the area, then piling about 6 inches of new soil and amendments on top of it. You can then plant directly on top. In a couple of months the grass underneath will be quite dead. The newspaper will break down over the season and you can till it all in next spring. I've never tried that last method myself, but my best friend has quite successfully.

Good luck and have fun!


Subject: RE: New vegie garden in a grassed area
From: Catherine
Zone: 3b
Date: 13-Apr-04 03:48 AM EST

Thanks Nancy. Seeing as I will be bringing in new soil anyway I think I might try that second method. I'm not afraid of hours of intense labor but if I can avoid it or minimize it I sure will.


Subject: RE: New vegie garden in a grassed area
From: Rocks
Zone: 6b
Date: 16-Apr-04 07:42 PM EST

I made my first 'lasagna' gardens last year, and I was thrilled with the technique. Just be sure to really wet the layers of newspaper before you put them down...I used 10 layers...I dunked them in a pail to wet thoroughly before laying them down then hosed them before I laid my other layers. It helps to start the grass kill as the paper lays flatter on the grass, as well as preventing the paper from flying all over the yard. I then stayed to the 'brown, green,brown, etc' rule of thumb. First a layer of brown (I used peat moss). Then a layer of green (I used grass clippings). Then another layer of brown (chopped up leaves from the previous fall) then I topped it off with a thick layer of compost. I made sure to water each layer well as I went along. I planted in it a couple of days later. Of all the information I'd read about it beforehand, all stated that it should be more layers than what I used, which would ultimately make for a higher bed. It would settle to a lower level eventually, but mine was about half as thick (about 5") as I'd read it should be and it worked out just fine.

The only hinderance I found with the lack of depth was that I really couldn't plant anything large the first year, ie from a big pot, as I'd hit the grass as I dug and disturb it before it died, and that I had to edge the garden deeply to keep the grass from coming up around the edges. Other than those two slight problems, everything did great. I edged one of the gardens with rocks, and it had no problems with grass near the edges. I put in annuals and young perennials, which I see are already starting to come up this year and no sign of grass at all. I will use this method from now on. Still alot of work, depending on the size of your garden, but easier on the back. Good luck with yours!


Subject: RE: New vegie garden in a grassed area
From: Catherine
Zone: 3b
Date: 18-Apr-04 06:06 AM EST

Hi Rocks. Thanks for all the information. Can you tell me did you build a "box" frame around your garden. If not was it difficult to keep the garden in place. I have some people telling me I should use pressure treated 4x4's to contain the garden as it will be considerably higher than the grade of my yard. I figure that over time the garden will settle and this will not be a problem. Over the first few years I think that the settling will allow me to till into my existing earth, as the grass will be dead and the newspaper will have bio-degraded. Any thoughts on this?


Subject: RE: New vegie garden in a grassed area
From: Rocks
Zone: 6b
Date: 19-Apr-04 01:16 PM EST

Hi Catherine, No, I didn't build a box frame per say...I edged the smaller of the two I made with rocks almost right away as it is on the top of a hill. On the larger one, I just sloped the edges to the grass then edged the grass away to keep it from creeping into the garden. I'm going to edge the bigger one with rocks soon so I don't have to edge it from the lawn every year (I hate that job). It wasn't really a problem keeping it in place, just sometimes after a heavy rain, the mulch near the edges was washed down to the edge, hence the rocks this year.

I would think that a frame around it would really help to keep it contained, but I would definitely NOT use pressure treated wood...it is treated with arsenic, as well as a plethora of other poisonous chemicals which could leach into the soil and into your veggies. If I was to do it, I would use cedar, or another wood that wasn't treated with any chemicals. Or possibly blocks...my brother made a wonderful raised bed and he used the inexpensive concrete landscape blocks. Looks great and keeps everything where it's supposed to be.

I hope I've answered your questions :-)


Subject: RE: New vegie garden in a grassed area
From: Catherine
Zone: 3b
Date: 20-Apr-04 03:34 AM EST

Hi Rocks. Thanks for the reply. Just wondering if it would be better for me to use something to kill the grass before I do the 'lasagna' process, or will the grass be absolutly dead so that it can be tilled under next year? My garden is on a level grade so I wasn't really worried about having to frame it in to contain it, but the use of rocks seems like it would add an effect that would be pleasing to the eye. Thanks for all your help!


Subject: RE: New vegie garden in a grassed area
From: Rocks
Zone: 6b
Date: 20-Apr-04 06:39 PM EST

Hi Catherine, I didn't do anything but cut the grass before I made my lasagna gardens, which were both on healthy lawn. By the end of the season, I could see that it was a goner. The wet newspaper did the trick. The earthworms do a great job too. Just make sure the paper's at least 10 layers thick and soaking wet when you put it down. I also made sure to overlap the edges of the paper when I laid it down so no grass could find it's way up through any gaps. Also made sure not to disturb the paper when planting during the first season for the same reason as not to let the grass through. So far so good. I'd also read that you can use cardboard as well, tho I haven't tried it myself.

As I said, I'm going to edge it with rock as soon as I get the chance (already have a collection started) and I'll top dress with more compost, as I do with all my gardens this time of year. I'm so glad I heard about this method...no more digging for me if I can help it! Glad I could help!


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