Thursday 31 July 2014

DIY removing grass to make a garden bed

Over the last 6 years I have removed a lot of grass to make new garden beds throughout my yard.  Once a bed is in place, by the next year I've decided it needs to be expanded.  Making more garden bed space is not just an obsession it makes for a more appealing bed that has enough space for tall, medium and low  height plants.  The first 4 years of garden making, me and my trusty spade became an efficient grass removal machine.  If you gave me 30 minutes and a napping child,  I could cut out a 10 ft sq swath of land.  If you've never removed sod,  the process involves jumping down with one leg onto your spade to cut down as deep down into the earth  under the roots of the grass and then pushing the shovel and sod up.  This jumping down action in addition to childbirth has done a number on my pelvis, I won't get into pelvic anatomy but let's just say I end up in quite a bit of pain when I forget I am not a machine.  So last summer when I realised my back yard bed needed to be expanded I decided to try out the "lasagne method" a gentler form of turning grass into a bed.

Below is a picture of the first step.  Just the perimeter grass of the bed needs to be pulled up. My trusty spade can be seen in the foreground.

Step 2:  Cardboard is laid over top of the grass.  A layer of organic matter is put overtop of the cardboard, in this case lawn clippings and fresh compost.  Another layer of soil is placed over top.  The idea is that the cardboard will work to smother the grass and then eventually decompose.
Step 3: Patience.  Once your layers are in place you can really only plant shallow rooted plants until the grass is smothered and the cardboard layer has decomposed which will take at least several months.  I cheated a bit to plant a lemon cypress, cutting through the cardboard.  Below 2 pics of the bed one year later.

You can see from the first "before" picture that some plants have been shuffled around.  Shannon gave me some rudbeckia  and I added the lemon cypress which really glows in the winter time.  I've grown some carrots at the apex of the bed for easy access for kids needing a snack .  I'm quite pleased with the result of the new bed and found the "lasagne method" to be kinder to my body. I would recommend this method to others looking to eradicate grass in order to establish more garden space.


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