U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Garden
 [Register]
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
 
 
Old 05-14-2011, 07:45 PM
 
1,174 posts, read 6,714,683 times
Reputation: 1098

Advertisements

I want to turn some grass area into a planting bed in my back yard. I'm looking at first doing a 100' long by 5' to 15' wide section as a start. Once this area is done, I would be doing the same thing in two other areas.

The grass right now isn't the best stuff. It's weedy and has bermunda grass in it from the prior owner's neglect. I will be addressing that over time, but for now I want to pay attention to establishing the planting beds.

I've already marked off the boundary of this section with paint and have begun to spray grass killer on it. However, I've come to the quick realization that's it's going to take a lot of that stuff to kill off the grass. It's a lot of expense and effort that might not be needed. My intention was to kill off the grass, lay down landscaping fabric and then cover the area with about 4" deep wood mulch.

Do you think it's even necessary to spray the grass killer since I'll be covering the section with the fabric and then the mulch? I don't have anything against the use of the herbicide. I'd just rather not spend the time, effort and money on it's use if it's unnecessay.

So, what do you think? Can I get away with just laying down the landscape fabric and wood mulch on top of the living grass? Will that suffiviently kill the grass and weeds so I can eventually have a weed/grass-free planting bed?

TIA for any advice.
Rate this post positively Quick reply to this message

 
Old 05-14-2011, 08:04 PM
 
25,626 posts, read 34,660,851 times
Reputation: 23231
Quote:
Originally Posted by garth View Post
I want to turn some grass area into a planting bed in my back yard. I'm looking at first doing a 100' long by 5' to 15' wide section as a start. Once this area is done, I would be doing the same thing in two other areas.

The grass right now isn't the best stuff. It's weedy and has bermunda grass in it from the prior owner's neglect. I will be addressing that over time, but for now I want to pay attention to establishing the planting beds.

I've already marked off the boundary of this section with paint and have begun to spray grass killer on it. However, I've come to the quick realization that's it's going to take a lot of that stuff to kill off the grass. It's a lot of expense and effort that might not be needed. My intention was to kill off the grass, lay down landscaping fabric and then cover the area with about 4" deep wood mulch.

Do you think it's even necessary to spray the grass killer since I'll be covering the section with the fabric and then the mulch? I don't have anything against the use of the herbicide. I'd just rather not spend the time, effort and money on it's use if it's unnecessay.

So, what do you think? Can I get away with just laying down the landscape fabric and wood mulch on top of the living grass? Will that suffiviently kill the grass and weeds so I can eventually have a weed/grass-free planting bed?

TIA for any advice.
Sounds like a good plan on just the landscape fabric because of the large area. If anything pokes through you can spot treat. If it were me I would spray everything first to ensure a proper killing. FYI if someone recommends solarization it is not very effective against Bermuda because of the fact it replicates through stolons and rhizomes.
Rate this post positively Quick reply to this message
 
Old 05-14-2011, 08:08 PM
 
1,774 posts, read 6,213,135 times
Reputation: 908
I would hold off on the grass killer. Yes it will kill the grass but it is unnecessary since you will lay down some landscape fabric which will smother out the grass as you stated. Also, the grass killer will also kill the plants you are hoping to plant there. I think I would haul in some topsoil and make a raised bed, place landscape fabric on top, mulch, and then add some plantings. Good luck!
Rate this post positively Quick reply to this message
 
Old 05-14-2011, 08:36 PM
 
342 posts, read 955,878 times
Reputation: 355
Grass killer will turn the grass yellow, but you will still need to remove it. I'm a big believer in prepping the bed right in the beginning, which means digging out the grass and weeds. Plus, you won't need fabric. Maybe start with a smaller bed.
Rate this post positively Quick reply to this message
 
Old 05-14-2011, 10:05 PM
 
Location: Visitation between Wal-Mart & Home Depot
8,307 posts, read 37,529,940 times
Reputation: 7169
Quote:
Originally Posted by garth View Post
I want to turn some grass area into a planting bed in my back yard. I'm looking at first doing a 100' long by 5' to 15' wide section as a start. Once this area is done, I would be doing the same thing in two other areas.

The grass right now isn't the best stuff. It's weedy and has bermunda grass in it from the prior owner's neglect. I will be addressing that over time, but for now I want to pay attention to establishing the planting beds.

I've already marked off the boundary of this section with paint and have begun to spray grass killer on it. However, I've come to the quick realization that's it's going to take a lot of that stuff to kill off the grass. It's a lot of expense and effort that might not be needed. My intention was to kill off the grass, lay down landscaping fabric and then cover the area with about 4" deep wood mulch.

Do you think it's even necessary to spray the grass killer since I'll be covering the section with the fabric and then the mulch? I don't have anything against the use of the herbicide. I'd just rather not spend the time, effort and money on it's use if it's unnecessay.

So, what do you think? Can I get away with just laying down the landscape fabric and wood mulch on top of the living grass? Will that suffiviently kill the grass and weeds so I can eventually have a weed/grass-free planting bed?

TIA for any advice.
I second removing the grass. You will spend a lot more on grass killer and landscaping fabric than you would on a one day rental of a sod-cutter. Any Home Depot or Lowes with a rental center should have one for you to use. You would be amazed at the stuff weeds can poke through - I still have weeds poking up through a layer of pinned landscaping fabric beneath ~10" of potting soil in a brick planter box. Same weeds that were growing in there before.

What are you planning on planting?
Rate this post positively Quick reply to this message
 
Old 05-14-2011, 10:34 PM
 
Location: Beautiful Niagara Falls ON.
10,018 posts, read 11,944,258 times
Reputation: 9007
I have built a lot of big planting beds. I really hate landscaping fabric and I have actually taken a lot of it out when redoing existing beds, The biggest things to consider when making a bed are the grades and the soil type. I have built beds where my final grade is going to be 8 inches to a foot higher than the existing grade. In that case I just turned the sod over and then put in the required amount of top soil.If your grade is going to remain about the same then you have to get rid of the turf. They sure can add up to a lot of debris in a bed the size you are talking about. Instead of hauling them away I have used them to build berms and other landscape features. They work well.

If I am to build a garden on heavy soil types I would always raise the bed. I hate clay with a passion and it takes all the fun out of gardening. All of my gardens before now have been on very light sandy loam. A real gardeners delight. I just bought a new house and it's on gumbo clay. I swear you could make pottery out of it. All the gardens have already been built and they were raised a foot or so with nice top soil thankfully. When building a garden think carefully about your soil because once the garden is in and planted you are stuck with whatever you have. Just to show you how much topsoil you need to build a good garden I will tell you about one I built. The existing soil was very light and I wanted much richer topsoil. The garden was about 100 ft long by an average width of 8 ft. I put two big triaxles of top soil in that garden and it worked out great. Now that much top soil could cost you a fortune but there are ways. Phone up some paving companies and tell them you want some free topsoil when they are working somewhere around your area. Pavers usually only dig a foor or so deep so they get lots of good stuff. I got all mine for free and at my next house I got 3 triaxles for free. Do not let them dump anything when you are not there because you will have told them only good clean topsoil and you will want to make sure that's what you are getting and not some crap.
Rate this post positively Quick reply to this message
 
Old 05-15-2011, 09:24 AM
 
Location: On the Chesapeake
40,895 posts, read 53,077,343 times
Reputation: 54755
After the grass is killed rake away any dead stuff and discard (I have no issue putting it in my compost pile since it's so large and I turn it to the bottom so it's a least a year until it gets used).

Borrow/rent/steal/buy a roto-tiller. You can get a small one like this:
Honda Tillers: Honda FG110 Mini-Tiller and Cultivator

Which is what I have. Your back will thank you. You will likely have to till it 2 or 3 times which will be a good time to add any amendments like compost, sand, lime, etc.
Rate this post positively Quick reply to this message
 
Old 05-15-2011, 06:39 PM
 
23,086 posts, read 21,072,068 times
Reputation: 13667
I have some neighbors who planted small gardens on sections of their lawn and did nothing to improve the soil. You can look at their dwarfed plants and see that the ground isn't too good. Even if the ground is good, it still needs to be worked and loosened. If you don't want to go at it with a shovel you'll need a rototiller, especially if the area is large.
I'd avoid the weed killer and maybe also the wood mulch, unless its going to for landscaping and perennial flower beds. Don't work wood mulch into the ground, that depletes the ground of nitrogen until it breaks down. Compost, composted manure and sphagnum peat moss loosen the soil and help it retain moisture as well as give plants organic matter to feed on. Grass clippings make a good mulch and can then be tilled under.
Rate this post positively Quick reply to this message
 
Old 05-15-2011, 09:14 PM
 
2,063 posts, read 7,384,445 times
Reputation: 2750
Quote:
Originally Posted by garth View Post
I want to turn some grass area into a planting bed in my back yard. I'm looking at first doing a 100' long by 5' to 15' wide section as a start. Once this area is done, I would be doing the same thing in two other areas.

The grass right now isn't the best stuff. It's weedy and has bermunda grass in it from the prior owner's neglect. I will be addressing that over time, but for now I want to pay attention to establishing the planting beds.......

Do you think it's even necessary to spray the grass killer since I'll be covering the section with the fabric and then the mulch? I don't have anything against the use of the herbicide. I'd just rather not spend the time, effort and money on it's use if it's unnecessay.

Bermuda grass in the southeast is not something that will easily go away. Tilling, digging it in and all the other suggestions will only leave you with many more new growing bits of Bermuda grass. If it is killed, then covered completely with cloth and a good deep layer of mulch you have a good chance of keeping it under control. It will take years before the last of the seed and stolons to die off. The trouble comes with the fact that you want to turn this into flower beds. That means holes in the mulch and fabric and from personal experience that means weeds like Bermuda grass will have a way to come back up.

If you have no problems using the chemical method, I'd continue with it and pull out and rake off as much as possible from the surface once things are truly dead. Follow this with adding and digging in soil amendments and pulling out any additional roots and runners you find. Once the soil is less compacted you can cover it with landscape fabric and/or mulch to keep any seeds and remaining pieces of weeds from generating new plants.

We needed extensive work when we moved in and used a local experienced landscaper, going on his recommendations. We didn't do the landscape fabric since we saw the result on neighbors gardens in our frequent mountain winds and decided it wasn't worth it. Instead, we had several inches of soil amendments added (primarily composted materials) on top of the soil as well as dug in and covered with about 3 inches of mulch. The mulch was fairly fine, decomposed rapidly, so an additional layer another 2 inches thick was added the next year. Between the amendments and decomposing mulch the soil was improved a bit for planting plants. I still find some long runners coming up from the depths (more than 6 inches in some cases) now and then, along with some other fun pasture weeds but overall it seemed to have done the job. The only "landscaped" area near the house had been covered by landscape fabric had all sorts of weeds coming through at each crack or wherever the overlaps were missed. I wound up hand digging out roots 10 inches down that were thicker than my thumb that began putting out shoots wherever the fabric was lacking! This area is now the most weed free and has the best soil for plants but it took a lot of hard physical labor to get it there.

Since more organic methods like vinegar, which works well on a lot of weeds don't seem to be enough, if I had to do it again I would use the Roundup or similar herbicide, especially when dealing with Bermuda grass!


To get some ideas on what you can do, and why Bermuda grass is so difficult, try reading the following:
Bermudagrass Management Guidelines--UC IPM
Rate this post positively Quick reply to this message
 
Old 05-16-2011, 07:09 AM
 
Location: Western Washington
8,003 posts, read 11,206,247 times
Reputation: 19512
If you're dealing with Bermuda grass, you do NOT want to skip that glyphosate step (Roundup), you WILL regret it horribly! Nothing sucks the joy out of landscaping, more than going to all that hard work, only to have weeds coming back heavier than ever.

My suggestion....Roundup, rototil in a week...(DON'T use the Roundup that has the residual effect, if you're going to plant in that bed!) ...it wouldn't hurt to wait another week after tilling, before putting your fabric on (if you're going to use fabric)...so that you can hit new weeds with Roundup again (it won't take nearly as much this time). Now lay the fabric, plant and mulch! Seriously, it would be crazy to just lay down the fabric without spraying first. If you do, you're going to have such a rock-hard root mat under that fabric!
Rate this post positively Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


 
Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply
Message:
Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Garden
Similar Threads

All times are GMT -6.

© 2005-2022, Advameg, Inc. · Please obey Forum Rules · Terms of Use and Privacy Policy · Bug Bounty

City-Data.com - Contact Us - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37 - Top