My plan is to finally get rid of my small, useless front lawn and turn into into a garden bed this spring. My front lawn is only about 15×4 feet. The problem is… I didn’t plan ahead and kill my lawn last fall by smothering it. I like the idea of buying vinegar in bulk and spraying the life out of my grass. Is this an okay idea, or will I be ruining the soil I’m planting my flowers in? I will amend with some compost after killing the grass. I can also selectively fry any tough grass or weeds by laying an old window down on the lawn for a day.
why not go the lasagna gardening route? I have successfully dug a hole in the grass for each plant that I want to plant and then after planting just surrouond the plant with cardboard or newspaper etc. then put down mulch. the grass will break down and the soil will be very nice underneath the mulch.
I know normally under the best conditions, it would be good to start lasagna gardening in the fall so that it would be broken down by spring, but since I am rather impatient sometimes, this has worked well for me.
With that size space, I would either start lasagna gardening now or, preferably, plan on doing a double-dug french bed method.
Digging french beds is very labor intensive but it has given me the best results, by far, of any other methods I’ve tried (and I think I’ve tried them all).
ETA: I’ve had mixed success with lasagna gardening in my yard. It worked really well when I set up my orchard beds in the same season that I first planted them.
On the other hand, I created several lasagna beds in my main plot that that turned into a mucky disaster. I laid down thick cardboard and covered it with leaf mold at compost the fall before initial planting. Turns out this part of my yard has considerable drainage problems, the cardboard I used was very thick and even with lots of holes punched in, it didn’t break down well. A sort of vapor barrier was created where water couldn’t drain well off the top or evaporate well underneath. Double jeopardy! It just wouldn’t dry out that spring.Eventually my husband got impatient and rented a tiller to plow under the remainder of the main plot beds. He thought tilling up those lasagna beds would help, but it just created more mucky, wet clay mess. That season nothing but weeds grew in those bed. Last year the soil seemed to have recovered, beans did really well there.
I have also created lasagna beds with thick layers of newspaper, again varying degrees of success. Laying down the newspaper is a pain in the butt on anything but a completely wind-free day, and no matter how many layers I seem to use the persistent grass still seems to break through. That means it has to be pulled out later, and again, and again.
I created another bed in my back yard using newspaper and mulch. I did have to deal with some grass that did persist, but it was a good method overall. I don’t want to do that for my front lawn for a few reasons. 1) I’m not excited about collecting that much newspaper again. 2) My neighbors are already going to freak out about me ripping up the lawn, I don’t want to put cardboard out on our front lawn. 3) I’m planning to plant many varieties of flowers. I would drive myself nuts ripping that many holes in newspaper or cardboard to plant. (I’d rather mow grass all summer than do that, and that says a lot!)
I’m not familiar with the french dug or double-french dug method. I’ll look into that. I may also consider renting a tool to rip up my lawn. Considering how tough that ground is, working some air into it might be the best option anyway.
Regular vinegar is not acid enough for this use, and if you get high acid industrial vinegar you’ll kill everything else too. You have plenty of time to “smother it” as you say— I did this last year in April, and had a nice clean bed by May. Planted my tomatoes in it.
Do you have an objection to landscape fabric or landscape paper? I just keep thinking how easy it would be since it even comes in 4’ rolls…and from your neighbors’ point of view it would look a lot more like a landscape project in progress than the the newspaper/cardboard, which can look a bit like your recycling bin just exploded.
If you temporarily put plastic over the top it would smother the grass really quickly. Then just pull up the plastic and cut holes as needed in the landscape fabric (easy). Mulch around the flowers after you’re done planting.
I used vinegar on some weed grass that was coming up through a gravel path (the landscape fabric I used was useless) and it worked pretty well.I’m also trying to decide how to get rid of random patches of weeds and grass that’s in my front yard. It will all be dead in a few months when it stops raining here but meanwhile I was thinking about doing the lasagna gardening. I do worry about running into an issue like Creme had, where it turns into a muddy mess though. A few years ago I used newspaper to do this but it was very labor intensive and the grass is coming back through.
I’d be curious to know what you end up doing.
I’m going to try vinegar on a small patch and see what happens. From what I read, by the time I plant my flowers, it should dissipate and it won’t be harmful to them. I wonder if it will be strong enough, though. Landscape fabric might be a good way to go. It is so much easier to slice into and it does look tidy. I’m just sad that it isn’t very green. I also talked to the husband about renting a tool to rip up and turn over the grass. He’s thinking about it. My soil is very compacted, and that’s probably the best thing to do anyway. Might work better if I kill the grass with vinegar first. I’ll let you know what I do. I’ll look over more options as I hit the stores this weekend for my seed starting supplies. Thanks everyone.