jruss4
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Need Advice - replacing woodchips with grass

Hello all,

I am looking for advice. I recently moved into a new house with a smaller yard with wood chips rather than grass. I am looking to replace the wood chips with a lawn. I have basic experience with landscaping. I was thinking of removing as much of the mulch as possible and then renting a tiller to start. What is the best way to go about doing this?

Any advice would be helpful!

Thanks,

Jon

jruss4
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more info

I am from Massachusetts, and the area is mostly shady, but does get some sunlight (there is a large tree in the center of it that blocks sunlight in different areas except for in the morning and evening.

Thanks!

jruss4
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area

Oh and the area is about 100' x 50'

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applestar
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Do you know how old the wood chips are?
One way to do this would be to inoculate the wood chips with mushrooms and have them break down the wood chips into rich soil first. A shady location in Mass. sounds like it could be a viable idea.

I think you are looking at negative or reverse landscaping here. Do you plan on making the entire area grass lawn? You may want to use the garden hose method to determine what part of wood chip mulched areas you WANT to keep -- for paths, shrub and other beds, etc.

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rainbowgardener
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I expect the previous owner put down the woodchips, because the area under a big old tree is a very difficult area to grow grass. The tree not only shades it out, but sucks up most of the moisture and nutrients.

It would be easier to grow a shade garden under your tree than grass. Here's some suggestions of plants:

solomon seal, heuchera, bleeding heart, pulmonaria, wild ginger, tiarella, lily of the valley, sweet woodruff, lamium, epimedium, liriope. All of them are shade plants and mostly pretty tolerant of dry shade, but you will likely have to provide some water to help them get established.

If you don't mind providing water on an on-going basis (not just while they are getting established), you could plant ferns, hostas, astilbes.

Here's a couple other threads where we have had discussions of planting under trees:

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=189290#189290

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=251568#251568
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joew01
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I agree with Rainbow Gardner about planting a shade garden. Depending on the sun pattern and tree roots you may be able to compromise and have some lawn and part shade garden.
In addition to Rainbow Gardners plant suggestions you could go for a simple minimalist approach and just plant the area with one or two types of Groundcovers.
Some to choose from: Pachysandra, Tiarrella, Vinca minor, English Ivy. There are more to choose from. You could also have a garden path go through the area with a small sitting nook and maybe a few boulder groupings for some interest.

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rainbowgardener
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Pachysandra, vinca/ periwinkle, and English ivy are used in situations like that because they are very invasive/aggressive, fast spreading and will provide dense cover very quickly. They will also take over the yard if you aren't very vigilant. The English ivy, unless you constantly cut it back, will also climb the tree and eventually smother and kill it.

I would go with nice wild flowers, that are better behaved. The tiarella is a lovely choice.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

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