Removing Large Areas of Lawn to Replace With a Garden

shady lawnHow can I take out a large section of lawn that I want to turn into a garden bed?

Answer: Besides planning, the first step in creating the garden of your dreams is to remove the grass/lawn. A lot of people will turn to herbicides for removal because it is quick, easy and efficient. However, herbicides can be dangerous not only to other plants in your yard but also to yourself. Instead of turning to herbicides to remove large areas of lawn, try one of these techniques:

Dig it up: This is a quick method in which you can begin planting your garden as soon as the lawn is removed. However, this can also be challenging physically, as it requires a lot of hard, manual work. When digging up the yard, cut the lawn into strips and/or squares with a sharp spade so it is easier to remove. You can also roll the strips up, and possibly use them elsewhere. Using a sod cutter can help with the labor and save time. This method is great if you want quick results, however a downside to digging up the lawn is that you may lose a lot of organic matter as well as topsoil; not to mention all the intensive manual work that digging up the lawn requires.

An alternative to simply ripping the lawn up in squares or slices is to till the land instead. This will help retain the organic matter when the sod is turned through the tiller; however tilling can cause grass to sprout again from the cuttings of the tiller as well as weed seeds to germinate.

Layering/covering/smothering: There are many different names for this next technique, however, the results are always the same: dead grass and a ground ready for plants. This process is the easiest method in removing the lawn but will require more time. You can use a light plastic to cut the time from roughly eight weeks down to six weeks, however plastic is not biodegradable and would eventually have to be removed. I suggest using newspaper. Lay the newspaper over the area in which you want to create a garden and cover the material with a layer of compost or mulch to keep the sheets of newspaper in place. In about two months, the grass underneath the sheets of paper will be dead and you can dig through the compost/mulch and plant into the soil, without needing to remove the paper.

Now you can choose the method that appeals more to you and your needs. With the lawn removed, you are one step closer to designing your own garden oasis.
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Enhance the appearance of your lawn with insightful tips from the Smart Gardening Guide Step by Step: Leveling a Lawn.

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Make the task of starting a new garden simple and easy with the Garden How-To University: Getting Started in Your Garden.

Peruse through step-by-step instructions for important gardening and landscaping techniques with Katie Elzer-Peters’s Beginner’s Illustrated Guide to Gardening.

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