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Old 08-15-2008, 05:15 PM
 
Location: Nashville, Tn
7,917 posts, read 11,718,742 times
Reputation: 5307

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I would like to reduce the amount of lawn I have significantly but I'm not quite sure how to do it. My back yard is on a steep slope, has been torn up by moles and is extremely difficult to mow. I would like to replace it with various other kinds of groundcover, shrubs, etc. but I'm not sure how to take out a section of grass so I can plant something else. My sister told me that laying newspapers on the grass and covering that with wood mulch will kill the grass over a season and she recommended not using the chemicals that kill everything because they really don't go away as the manufacturers claim. I know they have those machines you can rent that will dig under the grass and you can just roll it up by I have a lawn in very bad shape with ruts, rocks and a number of huge trees with large roots so I'm not sure what to do. I'd like to take out a little bit each year and I'd also like to try to level out some of the slope using retaining walls. Does anyone have any suggestions? Thanks.
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Old 08-15-2008, 05:49 PM
 
Location: Albemarle, NC
7,730 posts, read 8,871,918 times
Reputation: 1441
Quote:
Originally Posted by MontanaGuy View Post
I would like to reduce the amount of lawn I have significantly but I'm not quite sure how to do it. My back yard is on a steep slope, has been torn up by moles and is extremely difficult to mow. I would like to replace it with various other kinds of groundcover, shrubs, etc. but I'm not sure how to take out a section of grass so I can plant something else. My sister told me that laying newspapers on the grass and covering that with wood mulch will kill the grass over a season and she recommended not using the chemicals that kill everything because they really don't go away as the manufacturers claim. I know they have those machines you can rent that will dig under the grass and you can just roll it up by I have a lawn in very bad shape with ruts, rocks and a number of huge trees with large roots so I'm not sure what to do. I'd like to take out a little bit each year and I'd also like to try to level out some of the slope using retaining walls. Does anyone have any suggestions? Thanks.
I just did this in my side yard. I used leaf mulch from the landfill. It's last fall's leaves. I covered it with free wood mulch as well. I've had a couple spots where the grass and weeds are coming through, but overall I'm very happy with it. The leaf mulch will break down over the winter with the weather cycles. It'll make a great new bed for plants in the spring.

If you want to go the newspaper route, make sure you lay down 5 or more layers. The water will drain through, but the weeds can't come up. You'll need a mulch to hold it in place. It really only takes a few days to kill grass and weeds.

I've also used plastic. Lay out sheets of plastic on a hot afternoon if the yard gets direct sun. The grass will be dead within a week.
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Old 08-15-2008, 05:52 PM
 
Location: rain city
2,654 posts, read 7,350,359 times
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This is not just grass removal, this is a major landscaping project.

Lot leveling, retaining walls, complete grass removal. You could do all this yourself by hand or with a few rented power tools, but it will take a very long time and be quit difficult.

I would suggest that you consult a landscape contractor for the leveling, retaining walls and grass removal. After those heavy duty basics are finished you should be able to do the rest of the reconstruction yourself over time.
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Old 08-15-2008, 06:03 PM
 
Location: somewhere close to Tampa, but closer to the beach
2,035 posts, read 3,177,031 times
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...either method you'd mention could work for your situation...using newspaper to smother areas of the lawn you don't want is an excellent and inexpensive,as well as enviormentially safe,alternative to using the chemical turf/brush killers which can remain active in the soil for as long as a year or more..and kill anything which you might attempt after the grass is removed...
ive worked with a sod cutter in some pretty tricky yards with quick results...considering your situation,..id probally use one only in those areas which have less tree roots...rocks generally aren't as much of a problem if the cutter is properly set..so that its only removing the top most level of soil/grass cover...
..your idea of taking a little out at a time is probabally the easiest means of accomplishing the results you desire...especially if you desire creating a terraced look..
...leveling areas on a slope can be a little tricky..but isn't all that difficult..and retaining walls,when properly installed,look great..as far as that goes, talk to a qualified landscape contractor/designer who should be able to provide you with alot of ideas...
....in those areas where you cant get a sod cutter in, you might use a square shovel to remove what you can...
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Old 08-16-2008, 12:05 PM
 
19,585 posts, read 22,844,511 times
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I had a lawnmower that, on the lowest setting, would cut right down to the dirt. I used it to clear areas of grass, then covered it with landscape fabric and mulch. Worked like a charm. Had to sharpen the blade after....

Retaining walls aren't as difficult as they used to be. The new interlocking blocks make setting them easier and I always tie them back into the slope with heavy plastic straps and a piece of PVC at right angles to the strap (parallel with the wall) They don't move. It's extra work now, but none later. Using a good glue between blocks helps, too.
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Old 08-16-2008, 04:39 PM
 
Location: Nashville, Tn
7,917 posts, read 11,718,742 times
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Thanks everyone, those are good ideas. I hadn't heard about the plastic idea before. I'm going to try to start with some of the easier projects first where it's not so steep. Also I think I'm going to lay some of that landscaping block around a few of the trees and put some mulch inside. Grass doesn't grow so well under one tree in particular so it would look alot nicer. I just moved to Tennessee a few months ago and am having a little difficulty adjusting to this humidity so some of my work is going to have to wait until it cools down a little bit.
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Old 08-16-2008, 10:45 PM
 
Location: Santa saw your Facebook pictures. Youre getting clothes and a Bible for Christmas.
1,838 posts, read 3,716,447 times
Reputation: 2766
Quote:
Originally Posted by MontanaGuy View Post
I would like to reduce the amount of lawn I have significantly but I'm not quite sure how to do it. My back yard is on a steep slope, has been torn up by moles and is extremely difficult to mow. I would like to replace it with various other kinds of groundcover, shrubs, etc. but I'm not sure how to take out a section of grass so I can plant something else. My sister told me that laying newspapers on the grass and covering that with wood mulch will kill the grass over a season and she recommended not using the chemicals that kill everything because they really don't go away as the manufacturers claim. I know they have those machines you can rent that will dig under the grass and you can just roll it up by I have a lawn in very bad shape with ruts, rocks and a number of huge trees with large roots so I'm not sure what to do. I'd like to take out a little bit each year and I'd also like to try to level out some of the slope using retaining walls. Does anyone have any suggestions? Thanks.
If youre not in a big hurry to plant stuff everywhere you could build your walls and back fill with free wood chips. Tree trimmers will bring you truck loads if you ask. It will take several years for this mulch to break down and as it does its not good for plants. It will look fine tho. In the heavy mulch areas you wont have to remove any grass. A foot of mulch will kill just about anything.

I would go the newspaper plus regular mulch route on the rest. The nice thing about newspaper is that it decomposes along with the mulch. You dont have to fish it up like landscape fabric. You just do another layer and add more mulch on top. Eventually you'll have quite a nice layer of dirt. .

And Id be careful about putting too much stuff on top of your tree roots. Some trees dont like that. Some trees cant breathe if you put too much dirt on top of their roots.
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Old 08-17-2008, 12:13 PM
 
Location: Minneapolis and surrounding suburbs
250 posts, read 645,997 times
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We just recently tore up our back yard, although in our case, it is a flat yard. We rented a sod cutter from Home Depot for $45 and were able to tear up about 1000 sq feet in a day. Once cut, you just roll the sod up and we put it in a compost pile. I remember asking my husband if he thought the machine we rented could be used on a hill and he thought he could maneuver it just as well. It really took little effort.

We also really didn't like the idea of killing the grass with chemicals. This route we took was immediate and with a LITTLE Preen down and mulch, the grass has not regrown. Good luck!
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Old 04-03-2010, 07:53 AM
 
1 posts, read 12,859 times
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Great information from all of you. I am thinking of removing some grass to plant under a redwood tree in our front yard, I try to do the right thing regarding the environment so I really like the newspaper idea.
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Old 04-05-2010, 02:41 PM
 
11,962 posts, read 7,791,540 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MontanaGuy View Post
Thanks everyone, those are good ideas. I hadn't heard about the plastic idea before. I'm going to try to start with some of the easier projects first where it's not so steep. Also I think I'm going to lay some of that landscaping block around a few of the trees and put some mulch inside. Grass doesn't grow so well under one tree in particular so it would look alot nicer. I just moved to Tennessee a few months ago and am having a little difficulty adjusting to this humidity so some of my work is going to have to wait until it cools down a little bit.
Reading your status line, I think I might have a better solution if you're willing to accept mother natures schedule because TN humidity will not improve in summertime .

Planting things like ground cover day lilies, spreading evergreen juniper or creeping mountain gold aurinia on that slope now will fill in over time and reduce the need for beefy retaining wall strength should heavy rains be in your future. They also aren't fussy/ manicured requiring pruning so you won't be breaking your neck more than once to plant them LOL. Shade plants that are prolific... lily of the valley, periwinkle (vinca vines), snow on the mountain, sedums just to name a few. I don't think they interfere with the tree roots as much as other plants might. English Ivy will choke a tree, for instance, so be sure to avoid introducing things like that.

Mulch is great but it won't hold your soil down on that slope. Best you just plant something that will choke what's unwanted out over time. Most of the stuff I listed is good for zone 3-8 ish, but make sure you check your specific growing zone before making purchases. Hope you find that useful.
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