Choggy
Full Member
Posts: 18
Joined: Fri Jan 19, 2007 10:29 pm
Location: London, UK

Getting rid of a lawn

Hello all! I'm hoping I might be a regular here... this is just what I'm looking for :)

I've just bought my first house with a garden and I'm raring to go! At the moment there's a really scrappy lawn which I want rid of (I plan on growing veggies). I think I heard somewhere (possibly Gardener's Question Time, but equally possibly down the pub from some terribly unreliable source!) that you can simply cut the lawn up and turn the turf upside-down and that in a few weeks you can fork it all through, the grass will have rotted down and you'll have lovely top soil where once was a patch of scrappy grass.

Did I hallucinate this advice, or will it actually work? Anyone got any ideas on time-frame?

Advice greatly appreciated.

Thanks

Choggy
Full Member
Posts: 18
Joined: Fri Jan 19, 2007 10:29 pm
Location: London, UK

Re: Getting rid of a lawn

Just noticed a topic of the same name further down this forum... odd that I didn't spot it first time round: my apologies!

Is there a way to edit your own posts on this forum? I couldn't see one?!

Choggy wrote:Hello all! I'm hoping I might be a regular here... this is just what I'm looking for :)

I've just bought my first house with a garden and I'm raring to go! At the moment there's a really scrappy lawn which I want rid of (I plan on growing veggies). I think I heard somewhere (possibly Gardener's Question Time, but equally possibly down the pub from some terribly unreliable source!) that you can simply cut the lawn up and turn the turf upside-down and that in a few weeks you can fork it all through, the grass will have rotted down and you'll have lovely top soil where once was a patch of scrappy grass.

Did I hallucinate this advice, or will it actually work? Anyone got any ideas on time-frame?

Advice greatly appreciated.

Thanks

Newt
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Posts: 1868
Joined: Wed May 26, 2004 2:44 am
Location: Maryland zone 7

Hi Choggy,

Congratulations on your new home and welcome to The Helpful Gardener. You can edit your post by clicking the word 'edit' in the upper right hand corner of the post you made.

You say you found another topic with the same info. Does that mean your only question now is about digging up the turnf, turning it,and letting it decompose? The answer is yes you can do that. Depending on the type of turf, weather conditions, moisture, etc it could take 3 weeks to 3 months for it to decompose. If it isn't decomposed enough you risk the roots sprouting and invading your garden. Personally I think it's better to rent a sod cutter and strip off the turf. Let it decompose into compost in a separate area, adding some browns (dried leaves, shredded newspaper, cardboard, etc).

If that hasn't answered your question, please let me know.
Newt

Choggy
Full Member
Posts: 18
Joined: Fri Jan 19, 2007 10:29 pm
Location: London, UK

Thanks Newt...

I can't see an "edit" link anywhere in the post I made :?

Thanks for answering my question. I guess I now need to find out how to build a compost heap, then ;) Thanks for your response :)
Newt wrote:...digging up the turf, turning it,and letting it decompose? The answer is yes you can do that. Depending on the type of turf, weather conditions, moisture, etc it could take 3 weeks to 3 months for it to decompose.
If I can supply more information regarding the variables you mentioned, maybe you can give me an idea whether the turf will be quicker or slower to decompose?

What type of turf isn't easy for me to say. It's fairly scrappy with not very much grass and a fair few weeds.

I'm in London, UK and the forecast for the next few weeks is for it to be cold and rainy. I would probably start digging the lawn this weekend or next.

Another question I have is that you mentioned a "sod cutter". What is this? Can I not dig the lawn up just with a spade, cutting into it to make squares and then under it with the blade...?

Thanks for your help so far and thanks in advance for any further help you can give :)

C

Newt
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Posts: 1868
Joined: Wed May 26, 2004 2:44 am
Location: Maryland zone 7

Choggy, you are very welcome! The word edit is in the upper right corner of the post that you made. Not in the reply box, but if you look at your posts you have made while you are reading this, before you click on 'reply', you should see the words 'quote' and 'edit' in the top right corner of your post. If you click on 'edit' you can edit the post you made.


Since you are in the city I'm thinking your garden is small. How's your back? Strong? All you need do is skim off the grass and weeds with a flat shovel. I did this once and turned the entire back and side yards without a sod cutter or till and visited my chiropractor several times a week for months! Here's what a sod cutter looks like. You should be able to rent one at a hire shop. There are manual ones and power ones and you can adjust the depth they cut. You can strip off the weeds and grass in no time at all with one.
https://www.mower-magic.co.uk/acatalog/POWERMEC_Turf_Cutter_PM55HSP.html
https://www.usa.husqvarna.com/files/cs/products/portals/lawn_care_sod_cutter_200x240.jpg

Here's the manual one that could still do your back in. You have to kick it and push.
https://www.amleo.com/help-desk/items/s/sod1/sod1.jpeg

I suggested you remove the grass and weeds this way because you said you want to plant veggies. If you leave roots they can sprout in your veggie garden. Maybe these UK sites will help. This first one talks about how to prepare the ground for a new lawn, but describes how to strip off what is there. It says you can compost the stripped off grass and weeds but it takes about 12 months.
https://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/organicgardening/gh_comp.php
https://www.gardenaction.co.uk/techniques/lawn3b.asp

Once you have stripped off what is there you can add 3" or 4" of purchased compost and till it in.

Unless you are going to be planting right away I would suggest you wait until just before you are ready to plant before you do all this. The winter rains can wash away your good soil.

Newt

Choggy
Full Member
Posts: 18
Joined: Fri Jan 19, 2007 10:29 pm
Location: London, UK

Newt wrote:Choggy, you are very welcome! The word edit is in the upper right corner of the post that you made. Not in the reply box, but if you look at your posts you have made while you are reading this, before you click on 'reply', you should see the words 'quote' and 'edit' in the top right corner of your post. If you click on 'edit' you can edit the post you made.

Nope, sorry. There's only "Quote". No Edit and no Reply. Could it be a browser versioning issue (I'm on IE6) or do I have to be a paid member to get these options or something?
Newt wrote:Since you are in the city I'm thinking your garden is small. How's your back? Strong?
Yeah, the garden's about 14 meters long and about 3 wide but some of that is concrete. The area of what I'll call "lawn" for want of a better word is about 7.5 meters long and 3 wide.

As for my back, um, no, it's pittifully weak.

Maybe I'd better take out better health insurance!
Newt wrote:Here's what a sod cutter looks like. You should be able to rent one at a hire shop. There are manual ones and power ones and you can adjust the depth they cut. You can strip off the weeds and grass in no time at all with one.
https://www.mower-magic.co.uk/acatalog/POWERMEC_Turf_Cutter_PM55HSP.html
https://www.usa.husqvarna.com/files/cs/products/portals/lawn_care_sod_cutter_200x240.jpg
Well, I'd have to get the thing in thorough the house (it's a terraced house - I believe that they're known as "Row houses" in the USA - so there's no entrance to the Garden except through the house) and the doors are kinda narrow, so neither of those is ideal, but I think my back should be able to cope with a 21 square meter patch as long as I'm careful.
Newt wrote:I suggested you remove the grass and weeds this way because you said you want to plant veggies. If you leave roots they can sprout in your veggie garden.
Aha! Well, I definitely don't want that!
Newt wrote:Maybe these UK sites will help. This first one talks about how to prepare the ground for a new lawn, but describes how to strip off what is there. It says you can compost the stripped off grass and weeds but it takes about 12 months.
https://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/organicgardening/gh_comp.php
https://www.gardenaction.co.uk/techniques/lawn3b.asp
Thanks... I'll check them out :)
Newt wrote:Unless you are going to be planting right away I would suggest you wait until just before you are ready to plant before you do all this. The winter rains can wash away your good soil.
Good to know, many thanks :)

You've been really helpful, Newt, thanks :)

Now, if I can just get this Edit button to show....!

Newt
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Posts: 1868
Joined: Wed May 26, 2004 2:44 am
Location: Maryland zone 7

This is from our FAQ section:
How do I edit or delete a post?
Unless you are the board admin or forum moderator you can only edit or delete your own posts. You can edit a post (sometimes for only a limited time after it was made) by clicking the edit button for the relevant post. If someone has already replied to the post, you will find a small piece of text output below the post when you return to the topic that lists the number of times you edited it. This will only appear if no one has replied; it also will not appear if moderators or administrators edit the post (they should leave a message saying what they altered and why). Please note that normal users cannot delete a post once someone has replied.
I'm thinking that the edit button isn't showing by the time you want to make a change. It's not a browser issue and you don't have to pay to join. Everyone is here for free. :D
Well, I'd have to get the thing in thorough the house (it's a terraced house - I believe that they're known as "Row houses" in the USA - so there's no entrance to the Garden except through the house) and the doors are kinda narrow, so neither of those is ideal, but I think my back should be able to cope with a 21 square meter patch as long as I'm careful.
I've watched gardening programs on BBC so I have a good idea of the situation you refer to. Sounds like it will be a flat shovel, a back brace and some stretching exercises before you begin! :?

While I have you doing homework, maybe you would like to look at some sites with info about growing veggies. Are there any particular veggies you have in mind? Will the entire lawn area, or most if it, be a veggie garden with no lawn?

Newt

lefty317
Full Member
Posts: 27
Joined: Fri Dec 29, 2006 1:58 am
Location: st. louis, missouri

maybe a small tiller would be the answer, the majority of the grass clods could then just be raked, or picked up by hand.

Newt
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Posts: 1868
Joined: Wed May 26, 2004 2:44 am
Location: Maryland zone 7

With all due respect to Lefty, I wouldn't use a till without frist removing the grass and weeds. Chopping up the roots could result in them sprouting and then there will be lots more grass and weeds to remove.

Newt

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