Creating garden space from lawn can be a daunting prospect. Whether your vision holds a sunny patch of veggies, or a shady patch of fragrant hostas, evicting existing lawn or weeds can be heavy lifting.
Instead of lots of digging and picking out grass roots, do this …
Coat the grass (or riotous patch of weeds) with a 4 inch thick layer of compost (4” at least, packed, like measuring brown sugar).
Immediately sow thickly with a crop of tasty greens or a cover crop in the case of a veggie garden. Or for perennials like hostas or transplanted veggies like tomatoes, plant them as usual and mulch thickly – very thickly.
The thick layer of weed free compost presents a long upward journey for any grass rhizomes or dandelion shoots, and the technique of sowing a thick layer of greens or a cover crop over this new layer makes competition for any shoots that make it up through the layer.
For added insurance against weeds, it’s ideal to lay several layers of cardboard on the ground before adding compost layer. These layers block shoots for a while until the shoots weaken and die underground, and then the cardboard decomposes and allows roots to get down into the soil below.
If an area of lawn is badly compacted (evident if the grass is patchy, or yellows quickly in dry weather) it’s best to turn that soil over. When roots hit a compacted soil they’ll just turn sideways. If the soil below the new layer already growing healthy plants, no problem. If it’s compressed to death, the new garden will only have the layer of compost to tap for water and nutrients. You probably wouldn’t see any difference as long as conditions are moist, but staying green during a dry spell has everything to do with deep roots.
So there ya go. Happy growing season!