Getting rid of lawns is one of my favorite activities....not that I dislike lawns,...there's just something indescribably satisfying about replacing a patch of grass with a patch of food or medicinal herbs

There are a number of ways to do this, but I'm going to list my favorites. Here goes.

1) Take some cardboard boxes and flatten. Lay them out over your lawn, with edges overlapping to ensure no grass gets through.
-- Cover cardboard with aged manure or compost. Be sure to find out if the animals the manure's coming from have been fed antibiotics or hormones. If so, find a different source. Aged manure is preferable over fresh manure if you'll be planting in it soon. (fresh manure will be too hot for the plants).

If you're leaving it over the winter, you can use fresh manure -- just be sure to either plant a cover crop (your local seed store will know), or mulch with hay, dried grass, leaves, etc.

The manure will leave you a great bed to plant in.

2) Dig up all your sod:
-use a sharp knife to (carefully) make a cut-out where you'd like your garden bed to be. A serrated bread knife worked well for me. I found cutting the sod into 1 ft x 1 ft squares make them easier to pull up. You'll want to fashion yourself a screen that you can use to recover soil from you sods (build a wooden frame that will fit on top of a wheelbarrow, and affix some hardware cloth or other mesh to it....otherwise some garden supply stores may carry the screens). Rub the sod against the screen, until all that's left is a bunch of grass roots in your hand, and a pile of finely sifted soil in your wheelbarrow. Return the soil to the garden bed once you've gotten rid of the grass.

Some grass will be persistent -- thats ok. It may take a few seasons to fully rid yourself of the lawn....but you'll be able to garden this space you've created.

more to come..........

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I just learnt this genious technique fron DirtDoctor (dirtdoctor.co.nz). It might not be the perfect solution, but it does keep all nutrients on place and seem fairly energy efficient, if you've got a year on your hands!
1 Cut the grass and use in the compost heap
2 Turn the sods with a fork, hoe or their special tool. Leaving the roots up in the air allows them to decompose straight back into the soil and benefits good soil life, all the mychorrizae stays where they can do their job.
3 When the grass starts to sprout again, turn it over a second time and plant potatoes.
4 When you mould the potatoes (twice), you weaken the grass even more, without taking any nutrients away
5 After digging up the potatoes, leave the crop residue on site to decompose and protect the soil
7 Then, dig the topsoil away to one side, and open the subsoil with a fork (or dig and hand crumb) to aerate it, then put back the top soil on top. This gives a good depth for roots and better water retention capacity. Try and keep each bed a shoulderwidth broad, with a norrow path between.
* During the whole process, you've also been making compost. Apply a thin layer of 1 cm over the whole bed, and incorporate by pulling the soil from the sides of the bed onto the top, to make it 20-30 cm high.
Et voilà! Plant whatever you want and continue to appy compost regularly, in thin layers!
Check out the DirtDoctor site! A whole new approach to "weeds"...
How does all this compare with no dig gardening? Can that work for organic gardening? From what I understand (total novice here), you create layers with old carpet, newspaper etc. Wouldn't there be chemicals in that stuff?
Welcome to the wonderful world of gardening Karen!
The DirtDoctor technique uses double digging only in the creation of the garden. Once the no-tread beds are created, you probably will never need to dig them again. Just adding compost in thin layers at each planting and leave green manures as a groundcover whenever you're not having a crop in.

Not taking away the grass sod seem intelligent to me, as you leave all the roots and some grass to decompose directly in the soil, which feeds the soil life. And the more your soil is alive, the healthier your plants will be.

If you've got heavy clay, my experience of the cardboard + manure/compost is that the roots of the plants stay on top of the cardboard, it is absolutely impossible to grow carrots, even after 2-3 seasons, beacuse there is just not enough humus underneath, not enough air either, and practically no soil life just under the carboard, even when it has rotted down. To open up the soil, IF it is heavy with a thin layer of topsoil, double digging is very very efficient, and you get good crops quickly of a wide variety of plants.

For the residue of chemicals in the cardboard, of course, you wouldn't want any print or gloss or glue or tape on the boxes you use. So that's another thing to take into account.

I also like DirtDoctors method because you're enhancing general soil life, and helping plants to access nutrients "on the other side of the fence" by nourishing mychorriza and other soil micro organisms and giving them a nice habitat (air in the soil). These organisms enter into symbiosis with the plants, and bring trace nutrients to the roots. As plants can't go looking for what they need, the soil has to bring it to them!
Well, in just covering with cardboard and compost, you also do this... I guess that if you've got a deep topsoil, or sandy loam, that method would work just as well. Cutting and taking away the sod seem like too much work to me.

As you can see, in the wonderful world of gardening there is just as many ways as there are gardeners.
Good luck!



Karen said:
How does all this compare with no dig gardening? Can that work for organic gardening? From what I understand (total novice here), you create layers with old carpet, newspaper etc. Wouldn't there be chemicals in that stuff?

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