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Do I have to remove the grass?

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Do I have to remove the grass?

Post  SlapHappy on 2/21/2011, 8:15 pm

I plan on building my first box this week. If I put down the weed barrier and fill my box over the still dormant grass, will I have problems? I'd rather not dig all that up if I don't have to.

Thanks for your help.
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Re: Do I have to remove the grass?

Post  elliephant on 2/21/2011, 8:20 pm

I put down a layer or two of cardboard first, then staple the weedblock inside the bed and have been happy with the results. I don't have "real" grass, though, just the yucky, clumpy stuff and lots of weeds. I've had to move a few boxes and have been amazed at how bare the earth is underneath after a year.

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Re: Do I have to remove the grass?

Post  Furbalsmom on 2/21/2011, 8:51 pm

We have had several discussion regarding locating our boxes over grass, some discussion were specific to bermuda grass. Hope the following links help

Bermuda Grass

Weed Fabric
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Re: Do I have to remove the grass?

Post  camprn on 2/21/2011, 10:15 pm

I removed the sod before I put down my boxes. It was a bit more work than simply placing the weed barrier and box upon the grass, but well worth it as I wanted to be sure there would not be grass coming up from below.
I have been pleased with the results.
Sod cut and ready for removal. <~~click
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Re: Do I have to remove the grass?

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 2/22/2011, 12:10 am

SlapHappy wrote:I plan on building my first box this week. If I put down the weed barrier and fill my box over the still dormant grass, will I have problems? I'd rather not dig all that up if I don't have to.

Thanks for your help.

I have built two SFGs in different locations, and haven't even used weed fabric before. It shouldn't be an issue, although some will undoubtedly say they had grass come up through their boxes.....remember, grass will still blow in form time to time.

To be safe, the weedblock should suffice. Being in northern IL, I can only assume you don't have bermuda grass. I can't imagine a southern grass making it north of the "transition zone." You ought to be mostly in bluegrass/fescue country.
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Re: Do I have to remove the grass?

Post  SlapHappy on 2/25/2011, 3:44 pm

Thank you all for the advice. Yes, I'm pretty sure I don't have Bermuda grass. I'm going to try the cardboard + weed cloth option that has been mentioned in a few posts.

I might live to regret it, but if it becomes a problem, I'll just dig it up and start over. I'm only doing one 4x4 box this year to start, so it's not a huge thing. If all goes well, I'll add one or two more boxes next spring...
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Re: Do I have to remove the grass?

Post  SlapHappy on 2/28/2011, 12:31 pm

Okay, for the record, I've changed my mind (again).

I'm going to remove the grass. However, one of the things I want to avoid is having the box recessed into the ground. So, I'm thinking about doing this...

Dig out the grass from an area slightly larger than my box, say 5' x 5'. Then lay out the weed cloth to cover that whole area, and on top of that, add mulch to bring the whole thing up to ground level. Then put my box and Mel's mix on top of that.

Will that work?
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Re: Do I have to remove the grass?

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 2/28/2011, 3:42 pm

That will certainly work, but it's too much "work" for me. I wouldn't worry so much about blocking the grass from underneath, as stuff will still blow in from time to time anyway. Your SFG will never be "perfectly" weed free. I think Mel recommends just dropping the MM on top of grass for a reason, and I have never had a problem, personally, either. The main thing I like about the whole methodology of SFG is "20% of the work."
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Re: Do I have to remove the grass?

Post  SlapHappy on 2/28/2011, 4:03 pm

BackyardBirdGardner wrote:... I think Mel recommends just dropping the MM on top of grass...

I could swear the book says to remove the grass, that's the only reason I am stressing out about this. I'll have to go back and take another look...
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Re: Do I have to remove the grass?

Post  Mikesgardn on 2/28/2011, 4:18 pm

I'm pretty sure the book says to remove the grass, and that is what I've done, but it is a pain. The next time I build a box, I'm going to experiment by stapling window screen material (aluminum,not fiberglass) to the bottom of the box. I think that might work, but I'm not sure if it come in 4' widths.
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Re: Do I have to remove the grass?

Post  camprn on 2/28/2011, 4:28 pm

SlapHappy wrote:Okay, for the record, I've changed my mind (again).

I'm going to remove the grass. However, one of the things I want to avoid is having the box recessed into the ground. So, I'm thinking about doing this...

Dig out the grass from an area slightly larger than my box, say 5' x 5'. Then lay out the weed cloth to cover that whole area, and on top of that, add mulch to bring the whole thing up to ground level. Then put my box and Mel's mix on top of that.

Will that work?
That sounds like a great plan!! I took up my grass too. Very Happy
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Re: Do I have to remove the grass?

Post  Squat_Johnson on 2/28/2011, 4:53 pm

While you're at it... If I had it to do again, I would nail hardware cloth to the bottom. I have issues with field mice (voles) eating everything in site. They seem to think Mel's mix is far superior for building tunnels. I bought a couple rolls yesterday, now I have a ton of earth to move from the old boxes...

I would use weed cloth over digging up the grass... Your back will thank you.


Last edited by Squat_Johnson on 2/28/2011, 4:57 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : clarity)
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Re: Do I have to remove the grass?

Post  SlapHappy on 2/28/2011, 5:32 pm

Squat_Johnson wrote:I would use weed cloth over digging up the grass... Your back will thank you.

So you're saying I could put the weed cloth directly on top of the existing grass, and then the box/mix on top of that? I really really want to believe that.

I checked with the book ("all new" version), and on page 55 (step 5) it says, "Once assembled, move the box to your chosen location, remove grass or weeds, and cover that spot with weed cloth."

I realize Mel's book is a great guide, but doesn't necessarily have to be followed word for word. When I read instructions though, I always feel this need to "do it right".

Man, just when I thought I had my mind made up. Now I don't know what the heck I'm going to do...
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Re: Do I have to remove the grass?

Post  camprn on 2/28/2011, 5:39 pm

I removed the sod and put by box right on the dirt. I despise weed barrier for various reasons and will not use it in my gardens.

If you think you want to take up the grass, do it. If you want to put down weed barrier that extends out and mulch, I think that's a fine idea, go ahead and do it. Don't stress too much now, we don't want you to have a stroke and miss the planing season. Wink
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Re: Do I have to remove the grass?

Post  killjug on 2/28/2011, 5:49 pm

I just put down weed cloth last year and the only grass I had come into the boxes came from the outside edge under the boards. My back yard is burmuda. I moved my garden and expanded and I am making a 1 1/2 foot walk of weed cloth and mulch between the yard and garden.

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Re: Do I have to remove the grass?

Post  SlapHappy on 2/28/2011, 5:58 pm

camprn wrote:I removed the sod and put by box right on the dirt. I despise weed barrier for various reasons and will not use it in my gardens.

I'm totally clueless. Do you mind me asking what are some of your reasons for despising weed barrier?

camprn wrote:If you think you want to take up the grass, do it. If you want to put down weed barrier that extends out and mulch, I think that's a fine idea, go ahead and do it. Don't stress too much now, we don't want you to have a stroke and miss the planing season. Wink

You're right, I'm over thinking all of this. I'm stressing out about this little garden box like my life depended on it. Deep-breath, deep-breath.

... okay, so I still don't know what the heck I'm going to do, but I'm going to try not to think about it for a while. When the time comes, I'm just going to do... something.
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Re: Do I have to remove the grass?

Post  NHGardener on 2/28/2011, 6:30 pm

SlapHappy, if it's any consolation, I'm in the same state of frantic about figuring out how to do everything. Whatever we do now will determine the entire growing season's results... No pressure, tho. Smile

I also was surprised at the negative comments surrounding weed barrier/landscaping cloth. There must be a reason for it. I may just use cardboard, which I read about, I believe it's called sheet mulching.

camprn, is cardboard the same thing as weed barrier? Or do you think it's a better option?
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Re: Do I have to remove the grass?

Post  SlapHappy on 2/28/2011, 7:02 pm

NHGardener wrote:Whatever we do now will determine the entire growing season's results... No pressure, tho. Smile

Oh, great! Thanks for helping me relax. Wink

(my garden is doomed)
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Re: Do I have to remove the grass?

Post  happycamper on 2/28/2011, 7:43 pm

You cannot go wrong by using cardboard. I have never used weed cloth but all 7 beds have been started with a layer of cardboard on top of grass. The cardboard biodegrates and becomes worm food.
If you already have the weed cloth, use it. Please do yourself a favor and place cardboard down also, it will only help! Just my two cents. Smile
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Re: Do I have to remove the grass?

Post  NHGardener on 2/28/2011, 8:14 pm

So happycamper, you didn't remove your grass? You just put the cardboard down and then put the MM on top of it?
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Re: Do I have to remove the grass?

Post  Goosegirl on 2/28/2011, 8:47 pm

happycamper wrote:You cannot go wrong by using cardboard. I have never used weed cloth but all 7 beds have been started with a layer of cardboard on top of grass. The cardboard biodegrates and becomes worm food.
If you already have the weed cloth, use it. Please do yourself a favor and place cardboard down also, it will only help! Just my two cents. Smile

I love using cardboard and it works incredibly well. For the last several years I have been using the 'lasagna' method of no-till gardening, where you put down a barrier of cardboard or wet newspaper, then layer your soil builders (compost, leaves, peat, grass clippings, etc) on top. I have NEVER had the grass (or dandelions, or thistles.....) come through the cardboard. Just adding another 2 cents. If we keep this you will need a piggy bank!🐷
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Re: Do I have to remove the grass?

Post  happycamper on 2/28/2011, 9:13 pm

NHGardener, you are correct. I never removed any grass. I can honestly say that I have not dug or double dug a garden bed in years.
Goosegirl, I agree with you. I have never had any of those nasty weeds grow in the garden either. They sure do grow outside the boxes!
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Re: Do I have to remove the grass?

Post  NHGardener on 2/28/2011, 9:35 pm

Thank you Goosegirl, I just googled lasagna gardening, I had heard of that before but didn't know the particulars.

I was fretting a little about having enough compost to fill my (hopefully, and at least) 4 raised beds, but through the information I looked at regarding the lasagna method, I ran across a comment that our local university (agricultural program) sells finished compost! They recycle their food service waste for the year and turn it into compost and it's available by the bag or yard starting in I believe late April. That's a life saver, since I'm just starting my pile.

Anyway, thanks for that info. One more step towards a productive summer season!
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Re: Do I have to remove the grass?

Post  LaFee on 3/1/2011, 1:29 am

It all depends on where you are and what kind of grass you have...

Mine? I didn't dig up the grass, and it hasn't put in an appearance. I had very pleasant grass, but nothing very difficult to quash under 6" of MM.

Had I still been in Florida? Yike. I'd have put down titanium, I think! The native grasses (and those planted for lawns) are iron-tough and spread via rhizomes -- tough to kill and will find their way in and around anything.

Some of the folks in England have a grass that has serrated blades -- so it literally cuts right through anything you put over it.

Do what you are comfortable with in your garden, and what you need to do to keep the grasses of your region out of your vegetables.

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Re: Do I have to remove the grass?

Post  SlapHappy on 3/1/2011, 12:41 pm

Okay, Mr. flip-flop is back and has changed his mind again (of course).

I'm going to leave the grass. Cardboard + weed cloth, that's it. I think enough people have said that they didn't dig up the grass and were fine, as long as it's not Bermuda. Hopefully it will be nice this weekend so I can just do it, and be done with it, and I won't have to think about it anymore. (yeah right)

Now, to start stressing out about what to plant!

Thank you, thank you, thank you to all that chimed in.
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