Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Non-Toxic Way I Killed All My Grass (On Purpose!)


Most people don't set out to kill their grass. I, on the other hand, was on a mission.

Our neighborhood  doesn't have much in the way of sunshine because the houses are built so close together. As a result, I grow things in a community garden plot so I can keep the fresh veggies coming all summer! 

For the last two years, I've been growing in a community garden was about 4.5 miles from my house and up a HUGE hill - which I would ride with my 3 year old in a bike trailer. My city recently finished building a new community garden that is a lot closer to my house - close enough that I can walk to it. Which is perfect since new babies can't go in bike trailers and I'll be having one of those pretty much any day now! 

The location was great. The price was great. 
There was only one problem: GRASS

The city had built raised bed quadrant plots for us, filled them with good quality dirt and then over the winter grass took hold. And not like grass here and there. Like, a rich, thickly rooted lawn grew on top of the raised beds over the winter. When I was ready to start gardening in April, I was faced with a 20' x 20' plot of this:


YIKES!

My friends in the plot next to mine painstakingly flipped their 20 x 20 plot shovelful by shovelful to turn the grass under. Being 8 months pregnant, however, I was NOT interested in so much back breaking labor - and really felt like it wasn't fair to ask my husband to take on such a big task on his own. Especially since I wasn't sure I'd even do that much labor without being pregnant.

After some research I developed a great plan to destroy the grass in my plot without chemicals and without a lot of backbreaking labor. 

Here is what my plot looked like 4 weeks later:


Beautiful black dirt with just a couple plants to pop out here and there. And it was EASY! Let me show you what I did...


25 comments:

  1. Your dirt looks beautiful! Nice and rich looking!

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  2. This is how I kill grass too but I use wood chips on top which end up decomposing to add to the soil. I usually do this in the fall so in the spring I have dirt!

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  3. Does this keep weeds from growing all season or do weeds still grow?

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  4. This will kill anything that was growing at the time you laid down the cardboard. It will not prevent new weed seeds from landing on your soil and germinating so you will still need to do some weeding. You can reduce the new weeds by applying a mulch once you remove the cardboard

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  5. I'm trying to figure out how you had dirt at the end and not just 400 square feet of dead grass.

    I guess I need to try this next year, leading up to planting season. (I tried with newspapers, but they were too thin - they dried out too fast.) I spent lots of time - and money! - trying to prep my soil last year, with straw and compost and the like. And it's full lawn this year, too.

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    Replies
    1. The grass died and then decomposed. If you check on it and you just see dead grass, it needs more time.

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    2. he said in the article that he raked up the dead grass and then added coffee grounds.

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  6. Good to know! I guess we've never had any blocked for quite that long.

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  7. Doing this now. My dad thinks I am nuts. :-)

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    1. My dad thought I was nuts, too. As did my husband. And my garden neighbors. But it worked and was easy. I could also rename it "the lazy girl way to kill grass"

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  8. I'm so glad someone commented on this again so I got the notification. I was wracking my brain trying to remember who had posted this! I'm about to pull my hair out over trying to get this method to work. I've been saving boxes for months and planning ahead to do this. And I cannot get the cardboard to stay down for anything. I soaked all my boxes the first time and I swear within 2 hours they were bone dry again. We now have half our lawn furniture on top of them and they STILL blow up. Mine have been on (sort of) for almost a month and I still just have a half-crumpled mess of cardboard. :/ I wanted to come by and see if I'd missed an important detail! I guess we just have a LOT of wind.

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    1. It sounds like you might be using fairly "standard" size cardboard boxes. The first week I wanted to do this, I tried a combo of brown paper bags and fairly large boxes - and I had the same problem. The cardboard dried out too quickly and I ended up with what looked like the remnants of homeless camp.

      This method was only successful for me once I got HUGE boxes - like the kind that a queen size mattress comes in (so think: It's twice the square footage of a queen size mattress in one piece of cardboard). Try calling around to mattress stores or appliance stores to ask about refrigerator boxes.

      I also weighed down the cardboard at the overlaps with huge rocks or jugs filled with water.

      Lots and lots of water is a key ingredient to making this work, so if you are having a hard time getting the cardboard to stay soaked, you might want to try putting the hose under the cardboard to flood the area under that cardboard as well as water on top of the cardboard.

      I hope those tips help!

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  9. My boxes might not have been quite that big, but they were pretty big. Amazon sends us cases of diapers and wipes, and they put them IN boxes -- like, multiples cases of diapers in one shipping carton -- so they're pretty big. But I didn't think of wetting UNDERNEATH; that's a really good idea!

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  10. Good job! What did you plant?

    My husband built me 2 beautiful raised beds to start our garden in (first year, starting off small...there's room to GROW next year...LoL)

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    1. I had about 20 tomato plants, 4 massive zuc hini plants, peppers, cucumbers, basil and some poured blueberry plants. It was glorious!

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  11. This thread is a bit old, but if you know anyone who works computer or IT, ask them for boxes. The computers come in extra heavy duty hard to open boxes. They are smaller, but heavier than the standard every day moving box.

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  12. Has anyone run into issues with neighborhood associations or cities taking issue with the "nutso" look of this? I would like to take part of our front yard out of grass and this makes more sense than paying $$ for a service to rip it up.

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    1. I didn't have an issue but that was probably because it was in a dedicated garden area.

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    2. I didn't have an issue but that was probably because it was in a dedicated garden area.

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  13. Thank you for sharing! What time of year do you think would be best if I'm planning on planting a spring garden? I live in the Midwest and was thinking early spring but I saw someone comment about doing in the fall. Any suggestions?

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    1. I did it in April for a garden I planted in May. It would work any time of year. I would start working to kill the grass about 5 weeks before planting.

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  14. Hugh boxes are essential. The more overlaps, the more opportunity the grass or weds have to find their way in between the cracks (these plants really try hard to live). If your soil is either bit acidic, PH<7 sprinkle with horticultural limestone (organic) before applying the cardboard. Also, it's a good idea to sprinkle a healthy amount of blood meal (organic) under the cardboard, because the decomposition process uses a lot of nitrogen. BTW coffee grounds are the best.
    Master Gardener

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  15. Good post. I am bookmarking this!

    http://www.thetravelingdyosa.com

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