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Growing local

After an inspiring visit to Christophers garden, we have decided to edge the perimeter of our garden which will end up enclosing our raised vegetable gardens and most of our fruit trees.

There is quite a bit of grass, of all different types which I need to get rid of. So far I have thought of a couple of options, however I want to be able to use the ground as soon as possible - preferably immediately!

1. Get a machine (no idea what it would be called so if you know please enlighten me), that will actually cut about 3-4 inches into the ground so that I end up with 'sods' of grass and a clean, grass free finish that I can manure/ compost then cover with a big round of cane mulch.

2. Keep all newspapers/ cardboard and wet down and cover with cane mulch. We have tried this with our existing raised beds but it does take awhile to break down and as we will not be putting much dirt over may not work very well and the grass could grow through - also we are talking about a very large area so will have trouble collecting enough paper.

3. Scarlett mentioned a specific type of wood chips, think they were just 'new' so they killed all the grass. Not sure about cost and/ or time frame to use the dirt.

4. Manually dig out all the grass, while this is obviously the best option it will take forever (and probably not get done properly anyway) and I really don't want to - would much prefer to cheat.

At this point I am strongly leaning towards hiring a machine and taking a long weekend to get this achieved. It would mean that I could plant out almost immediatly and it would be pretty lush within a short time frame. Also the fruit trees that are currently fighting for air with all the grass would get a breather that much sooner.

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Hi Donna,

So far we've been digging up small areas manually with muttock, I've been meaning to do some research as I would like to dig up ALL the weeds in the backyard and putting in a proper turf area, and a Pete's patch style veggie garden (so I am really interested in hardwood Chris mentioned in the meeting) ... I've seen better homes and garden use Turf Cutter, and many people have talked about rotary hoes.. I've heard you maybe able to hire them from Bunnings... here's a couple of websites I found..

Turf Cutter

http://www.masterhire.net.au/product/turf-cutter.html
http://www.coates.com.au/Products/prod.aspx?G=16&P=258&S=44

Rotary Hoes

http://www.coates.com.au/products/prod.aspx?S=44&G=16&P=254
http://www.groundcarehire.com.au/index.php?fuseaction=product.searc...

Please keep us in the loop of how you go, so I can learn from your experience :)
Hi Florence, most of our grass isn't that flash and there are a couple of different varieties but in saying that if we go with a turf cutter you are certainly welcome to come & have a look at it with the view to taking some squares with you.

In fact if we go that way anyone is welcome to it as otherwise we will just have to pay to dispose of it anyway - we will be moving/ using the current pile of dirt and I *DO NOT* want another one straight away lol).
Methyl bromide kills everything (complete biocide, kills humans too if you breathe it in). Looks like he's talking about soil sterilisation and then re-inoculating with bacteria. Doesn't make much sense to me - did he have anthrax or something? Surely as far as soil life is concerned it's the more the merrier, especially the more of the good things, which means change growing conditions if you're not getting the balance and variety you want. eg. if you kill everything but the soil's too dry the desirable organisms still won't multiply. Sterlisation is expensive too.
Beware - if you turn the sod over it can grow up again from the edges - it's good to mulch round the edges and over the top so you don't get too much regrowth. If you commit to a few months of getting every single bit of regrowth by hand and never letting it seed you'll end up lawn free.
yes you did. i wish there was some way of indicating the tone i'm writing in. it sounds bossy or picky or something, but i'm feeling laid back and discussive (no such word lol). not sure how to get round it - i might have to change my writing style with this in mind. i must say i've never liked the idea of methyl bromide though. sterilising a garden - ew! maybe this coloured my tone.

gardenwise i don't reckon there's any one way to do anything - everything has pros and cons. my interest is probably making sure that all the relevant factors are known. i agree the organic matter in the soil is the primary concern - it's so hard to get enough of it. sorry if i sound like i'm picking on what you say - it's not meant to be.
I've found that a good sharp spade and a systematic approach will get a lawn out very quickly. It's important to dig quite deep - ie about 3-4 inches under the grass tips, under most of the grass root mat, into the soil as you say. You basically cut into the turf in a brick shape from above, then undercut the whole thing from the side so you can lift the whole sod in one go. With practise it's about 6 cuts with a spade per sod (on the top one each side and two along the long edge, then two from underneath on the side to dig the sod out). It's important to do it when the soil is not too dry or too wet else the sods will crumble. A day or two after rain is good. You could have 'sod off March' ha ha, although preggers is a bit of a challenge..
Wood chips are about $60/m at the landscape supplies - but they are aged and won't kill your grass. I rang some tree lopping crews and asked if I could buy some fresh chips. I arranged with them to take a whole truck load for $10/m - turned out to be $230 for 23 cubic metres of fresh gum tree woodchips. Lovely. Took my mum and Andrew two days to spread it. First it produced a crazy crop of fungi, then it started to break down and go soft and dark - basically it was composting in situ, and it sucked all the nitrogen out of the grass underneath. The combination of the physical heat they generate, the nitrogen drawdown and the lack of light (we spread at 10cm deep) killed all of the grass completely, within about 4 weeks. We dumped it straight onto very healthy lawn (mixed hardy grasses). When I wanted to plant into it I just raked it back and used sugar cane mulch near the new plants instead - especially for seedlings. Chips were OK for trees.

Two years later the chips are very thin on the ground and we're getting grass coming through again. I think I might relent and have one small area of lawn but I haven't done the edges yet. Getting there.

Florence's links look good. If you hire a rotary hoe and then lend it to Tracy she might take away the aches and pains you'll get from using it :) (see her discussion posting)

There's always glyphosphate (round up) if you're desperate. It's evil but using it once so you can never use it again might work out in the scheme of things. It does kill worms and soil bugs so you'll be setting yourself back. Very quick though.

Also you can solarise the grass - ie use tent pegs to cover it in black plastic. The grass will be heated up and not get any light - takes about 4 weeks to kill it. It looks bad while you're doing it, but it's cheap, organic and effective. Similarly you can get some old carpet etc and cover the grass until it dies (maybe 6 weeks without the heat), then take it away and you're ready to go. Again, unsightly but effective.
Still leaning towards the turf cutter and cane mulch at this point - actually removing the grass completely. This is probably going to be the cheapest/ lazy alternative, won't hurt my soil and should be ready to plant out within a couple of weeks (after manure/compost/dirt/mulch treatment).

Wouldn't the grass just regrow if you use a rotary hoe? We had grass that was buried about two feet under in our the dirt pile - it was all yellow but still very much alive!
yep, quite possibly. you'd have to really chop it up and the bits would grow back and you'd have to pull them out. plus you'd expose the seed bank and gets heaps of new grass germinating. you'd have to mulch heavily and still weed for some time. also tilling the earth like really wrecks the soil structure which isn't a good thing - although you probably won't have much in the way of clods under lawn anyway
Hi Donna,
Just wondering how'd you go with the lawn removal?
Hi Florence, not yet. Got a bit sidetracked discussing other renovations, and waiting for some money to come in. Will definately have it done before my 'garden visit' weekend (which isn't scheduled by the way yet lol). That is the only time frame so far...

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