What's the best way to turn grass/ lawn into a garden bed?

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What I did last time was just dig the grass and roots up, then added some mushroom compost and tilled it together. My neighbor loaned me his tiller and he said to just till it all in, and rake out as much grass as I could. But this tiller just bounces off the dirt and grass until the belt belt eventually flies off. It can't break the ground. So I was just going to do the same and dig the grass and roots out and add compost I made last year.
 
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You may want to break it with a broadfork or shovel. Also on new ground a sharpened tiller blade helps with roots, though they obviously do not stay sharp long mashing through dirt. Also a reverse tine is easier, the foward tines will bounce unless you set your depth very thin like an inch and make many passes. I would shovel up the turf and use it elsewhere in holes or bare areas. You can also moisten dry soil to help till it. Wet it one day and till it the next when it has drained.
 
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That's great stuff thanks. I have a feeling my neighbor is going to tell me to keep the tiller. Either way I feel like it's going to be an important enough tool for the garden that I should either fix that one so it works properly (the belt keeps flying off) or get a new one. But you're still saying I should dig up the turf.

I live in Georgia zone 7b. I'm in communication with the GSU ag extension office and she's told me the soil here is heavy clay. It's got a good CEC but it's dense and needs to be broken up and organic material added. So I've been going with the leaf mold and compost piles. You've also helped me with them. But roughly how much of a layer of compost and leaf mold should I till in after I've removed the turf. And also, when? Should I just wait a month or so before I wanna start planting? I have a book on gardening in my region I'm reading right now, I just wanted to ask you what you thought. My 3 year goal is to grow year round.
 
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That's great stuff thanks. I have a feeling my neighbor is going to tell me to keep the tiller. Either way I feel like it's going to be an important enough tool for the garden that I should either fix that one so it works properly (the belt keeps flying off) or get a new one. But you're still saying I should dig up the turf.

I live in Georgia zone 7b. I'm in communication with the GSU ag extension office and she's told me the soil here is heavy clay. It's got a good CEC but it's dense and needs to be broken up and organic material added. So I've been going with the leaf mold and compost piles. You've also helped me with them. But roughly how much of a layer of compost and leaf mold should I till in after I've removed the turf. And also, when? Should I just wait a month or so before I wanna start planting? I have a book on gardening in my region I'm reading right now, I just wanted to ask you what you thought. My 3 year goal is to grow year round.
So compost is ready to go and organic material you add from the fall leaf drop, on top really for red clay. It takes many months and a lot of rain to break down for spring. I am in Birmingham to your west and we share the same clay. You will find that the mass of clay ( put some in a container and weigh it) and the mass of compost (same story, fill both containers and pack them, not loosely) are radically different. The rookie mistake on clay is to use volume instead of mass. Thus the internet advice is usually short about 3x. On a new garden you probably want to start with 6 to 8 inches. Hard to deal with when you run a 6 or 8 inch deep tiller. So do it in layers. In fact, now is a great time to consider raised beds!

Also due to the rain and the liming agents generally being water soluble the clay wants to stay acid. That is a whole 'nother reason to add more compost. Lime too. Dolomite usually because the magnesium also washes out.
 
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So compost is ready to go and organic material you add from the fall leaf drop, on top really for red clay. It takes many months and a lot of rain to break down for spring. I am in Birmingham to your west and we share the same clay. You will find that the mass of clay ( put some in a container and weigh it) and the mass of compost (same story, fill both containers and pack them, not loosely) are radically different. The rookie mistake on clay is to use volume instead of mass. Thus the internet advice is usually short about 3x. On a new garden you probably want to start with 6 to 8 inches. Hard to deal with when you run a 6 or 8 inch deep tiller. So do it in layers. In fact, now is a great time to consider raised beds!

Also due to the rain and the liming agents generally being water soluble the clay wants to stay acid. That is a whole 'nother reason to add more compost. Lime too. Dolomite usually because the magnesium also washes out.
I'd like to do raised beds eventually. I'm keeping an eye out for material I can use to make them with. I know there's a lot of benefits to them but thinking about building it then filling it seems like it would be expensive. What do you fill a raised bed with?
 
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Did you hear UK is getting 32 nuclear reactors? Soo you will grow inside with all that cheap energy! Well if we are able in 2050 that is!

No I haven't heard that @DirtMechanic and to be honest I can't see it happening. The British coffers are all but empty at the moment. I won't be growing anything in 2050, by then I'll be pushing up daisies. :)
 
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No I haven't heard that @DirtMechanic and to be honest I can't see it happening. The British coffers are all but empty at the moment. I won't be growing anything in 2050, by then I'll be pushing up daisies. :)
Probably me too since I am 57 now. Anyway, the article was a pronouncement of an agreement of direction. Northern UK will be developed with various factories etc and they touched on the permitting processes which are socialist and easily voided when problems occur such as recognition of bad government planning*.

*Spoken from an unrelenting belief in private property and the attitude that derives from those perceived facts.
 
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What no one has mentioned is your grass. If it is a grass that has stolens or rhizomes, tilling it will just multiply your problems as each piece of chopped stolon or rhizome will start growing on its own. You can either dig up and remove the roots and the entire grassy structure or kill the grass by either chemicals or by solarization. Then you can till if desired.
 
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What no one has mentioned is your grass. If it is a grass that has stolens or rhizomes, tilling it will just multiply your problems as each piece of chopped stolon or rhizome will start growing on its own. You can either dig up and remove the roots and the entire grassy structure or kill the grass by either chemicals or by solarization. Then you can till if desired.
Oh such a good point! I shovel things out because of what gets added and never thought about that point. There are many weeds that will show up that do the same thing. Laying down fabric helps.
 
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What I do is chop out squares, a spade width wide each way. lift them, and drop them back in the ground upside down and chop off any green bits showing round the edge, making sure they get well buried. Then I leave them until next Spring, winter weather breaks down that hard deeper earth and when I dig it over I find a layer of rotted grass underneath that I mix in.
It takes a while, but patience and letting the weather break things up for you saves a lot of work.
 

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