How to clear lawn area to plant crops


TropicalFarmer

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Hello to all,

I'm converting some areas of my lawn to grow more fruits and vegetables.
What is the best way to clear the area?
I presume a power tiller/cultivator could do the job, but I do not have the machine.
Another idea I had was to cover the lawn with leaves.
I do not want to spray any chemicals on my soil.
Are there any other ideas on how to go about it?
Thanks and Regards,

Rodrigo
 
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I presume you can get vinegar. You can spray vinegar and dishsoap to kill weeds. If you can add orange oil (dlimonene) it works much better. This will not harm your soil. Putting leaves on the soil will only help the weeds grow as the leaves will decompose and provide nutrients. What is your lawn comprised of? Grass, landscape flowers/plants etc? Since you don't have any equipment like a tiller or tractor you can also solarize the soil. Just cover it with plastic for a couple of months and this will kill everything. Or, you can keep covered with cardboard until all the buried seeds germinate and the weeds and grass are finally killed. Or, you can do like I did. I dug up 1/4 acre with a shovel and made raised beds. It took over 2 years, but I was in my 50's at the time and in fair shape.
 

TropicalFarmer

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Hello Chuck,

"What is your lawn comprised of?" Grass

"you can also solarize the soil. Just cover it with plastic for a couple of months and this will kill everything."
This is a great idea. I got black plastic cover. I'm going to do it that way.

Thanks and regards,

Rodrigo
 
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I have dug out squares and turned them over so the grass decomposes underneath.
I have also covered rough grass and weeds with old carpet, then made slits in it and planted potatoes in them. I guess you could do the same with your black plastic. The potatoes outgrow any weeds that make it through the slit and spread across the surface under the cover so when you peel it off you can pick up your crop half embedded in the ground. You won't get as good a crop as growing conventionally, but it is something.
 
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Hello Chuck,

"What is your lawn comprised of?" Grass

"you can also solarize the soil. Just cover it with plastic for a couple of months and this will kill everything."
This is a great idea. I got black plastic cover. I'm going to do it that way.

Thanks and regards,

Rodrigo
Before you put the plastic down water the area thoroughly. This will enhance seed germination and also act as a steamer.
 
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Before you put the plastic down water the area thoroughly. This will enhance seed germination and also act as a steamer.
Someone was talking about watering with sugar water to stimulate bacterial growth and soften the ground, this might be a good opportunity for that.
 
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Someone was talking about watering with sugar water to stimulate bacterial growth and soften the ground, this might be a good opportunity for that.
Why? The heat under the plastic will kill the bacteria. That's why you add molasses and compost AFTER solarization to bring them back.
 

TropicalFarmer

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Someone was talking about watering with sugar water to stimulate bacterial growth and soften the ground, this might be a good opportunity for that.
Hello Oliver,
Thanks for the tip
It's raining every day around here, so I'm afraid the sugar will dissolve and run off easily.
Regards,
 
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Fair enough.If there is a fair bit of vegetation to start with and you mow it flat that provides a fair layer of organic material.
 
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If its decent grass and enough of it a sod cutter is a good choice.
If your looking to just clear it , see previous posts
 

Meadowlark

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I'm late to this party...but consider that solarization kills indiscriminately and kills everything. Black plastic is about as unnatural as one can get in this life. I hate both.... literally.

The soil and what's in it are precious resources. I've been building mine for decades and hate to see someone destroy theirs at the very beginning.

One can use a spading fork and doing small areas at a time can accomplish a great deal over time.

The vinegar, dish soap, and orange oil as suggested above will kill weeds without destroying everything in your soil.

A lawn mower can be set low to scalp before you use a spading fork.

Cover the area in compost/organic matter for a season and then begin gardening.

Just some suggestions to consider before killing everything in it.
 
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If you're trying to get this garden going this year you don't have much choice but to either rent a rototiller or get out there with some hand tools, I really like a pulaski axe for breaking up hard ground then a hoe for working the open soil.

That being said, the best way to start a planting area is probably a year ahead of time: lay down cardboard over the area and pile maybe 6" of woodchips over it. Come back next year and you should have relatively clear, workable ground underneath.
 
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I find this a very interesting subject. The scenario takes me back many years. I can see in my mind's eye. My old dad digging away with his spade. He had a steady pace and could dig from dawn til dusk.
So in short.

IMO. If the grass is any good. You could lift it and store it face down. This will provide you with some good potting soil. Otherwise. Back to basics. So no mechanical aids. OK. I take it you are now there with your trusty spade. Depending on the size of the area. Divide it into reasonable sections. Now divide each section in half. Star single spit digging. Here. You dig out a single spit row of soil. Place this over to the top of the second section of your marked area. Now dig. Throwing forward each spit into the vacant space. Continue, working backwards. Basic gardening books will illustrate this method. At the end of the section. Cross over to the second half of the section and work backwards. Eventually you will end up alongside the section you started with. Now return the transfered soil to the empty trench. Job done. This method may seem slow, but with no mechanical aid, it is the best. The now buried grass etc will naturally enrich the soil. You are now ready to sow/plant whatever.
 
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The potential problem with a rotorvator (rototiller) is that the blades traveling across the bottom of the cut can create a compressed layer. It is much more of a problem with clay soils.
Note, digging in itself does not destroy all weeds, there are those that will grow from a chip of root and will be propagated by it if you don't remove them as you go.
 
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Weeds are coming no matter your method!
If I where to clear a lot to grow now I think I would just dig a few rows and leave the grass between for walk way.
 
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