January 17, 2011

Choking out the grass

About 75% of our 1/3rd acre yard is grass. It's green and lush, but incredibly boring and requires a ridiculous amount of mowing. We are gradually ripping out the grass and replacing it with shrubs, trees, and pathways. Digging out tough grass with a shovel is a ton of work and not my favorite activity. I can do it, but I'm tiny so it takes forever.

I recently read about an alternative method to digging grass out square foot by square foot. My architect buddy and landscape "coach" told me that he's had success with the method of placing layers of newspaper to choke out the grass/weeds. This method starves the unwanted groundcover of light while protecting the worms and happy compost creatures that live under the newspaper.

Trouble is, it takes a TON of newspaper to stand up to rain and wind for the several months it takes to choke out the grass. But I just read that cardboard works too, and is a lot easier to come by in the volume it requires to block out the light. So I'm testing this method in a small (2" x 15") strip alongside the foundation. I trimmed back the grass as low as I could, placed several wormy buckets of compost over the grass, then layered cardboard/newspaper over that. Then I covered it with mulch and bricks (to keep the cardboard from flying away). It should take a few months, but ideally in about April I can sweep back the mulch and cut through the cardboard, and then plant some shrubs (in this case, blueberries), then add more mulch. And never mow that area again!