Thursday, February 17, 2011

If I Can't Grow Anything On It, Maybe I Can Hang It On The Wall

I'm trying to kill the lawn in my back yard so I can replace it with drought-tolerant stuff and a vegetable garden.

I looked online for information on how to kill the grass and weeds: chemicals.

I asked at a couple of nurseries: chemicals.

Some people suggested I smother the lawn to death with a tarp, which seems preferable. I don't have a big enough tarp so I bought cheap garbage bags and slit them down the sides. I am now in the process of placing them end to end across the yard. This is an extremely inefficient method.

Baby steps.

The rain is not helping. Grass and weeds like rain.

However, (silver lining), each little bead of water is a self-portrait. I made something!


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Update on Hahamongna: Due to this week's rain, the Walkabout originally scheduled for this coming Saturday is being rescheduled to March 5th. I'll be leading the 9am tour. Sign up and come with me!
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43 comments:

Janet M Kincaid said...

The other option is to hire a few guys to dig up the sod and then lay down a new bed of topsoil... That's what I had to do with my front lawn in D.C.

Shell Sherree said...

What a cool and beautiful photo!! I have no helpful suggestions for the lawn, Petrea. We turned one stretch out the front into a river pebbles bed but it had mostly died from shade and drought at that stage, so covering it with plastic weedmat before doing the pebbles was enough to finish it off. Weeds manage to poke through occasionally, but they are random enough that I just pull them by hand. As I do with all other weeds. Just can't use the chemical stuff, so I applaud your experiments!

tracie said...

That's a gorgeous photo! Do you do any editing to your original shots before you post them?

dive said...

That's a beautiful photo, Petrea. Lots of lovely little mini-self-portraits.
Good luck with the lawn murdering. It's a full time job as more grass seed will keep on blowing in from neighbours' lawns.

Bellis said...

What a fantastic work of art! Eli Broad will be making you an offer, I'm sure. I could look at it for ages, unlike some of the modern art that's around.

Killing grass that grows from underground runners takes forever, but at least you're making a start. I'm giving up on gardening - skunks have dug up all the bulbs I put in at the front. But, I tell myself, I'd rather feed skunks than grow tulips.

Vanda said...

You buy one of those inflatable swimming pools an put it on top of the lawn. It'll do the same, but it's more fun. If not you, Boz will appreciate it.

Petrea said...

Janet, I'm beginning to think that's the preferred method!

Random weeds are fine, Shell. I did a lot of pulling out back last fall, but it was a waste of time. My plan is to kill it all, then roto-till.

Thanks, Tracie. I sometimes do a bit of tweaking, depending on the photo. On this one I mostly adjusted the contrast.

Thank you, Dive. I figure it's a never-ending project. I just want to kill it long enough to establish something else in its place.

I'd rather feed skunks, too, Bellis. I've been told I'll have this plastic on my yard for at least three months. (Longer, because it's taking me so long to put it all down). I'll have to find another method when I do the front yard.

Which brings me to Vanda. That would be a good front yard method except for the liability. Unless I don't fill it.

Petrea said...

Ooh, look! My sister-in-law Rebecca turned me on to this:
http://www.ecocoveronline.co.nz/home-xidc47413.html

Sharon said...

This is so cool! I've been doing a lot of digital enhancements lately and this photo is just ripe for experimentation.

pascaljim@gmail said...

Find a sheep or better still, a goat.

-K- said...

Love this photo.

TheChieftess said...

Love the photo Petrea!!! Good luck with the lawn...isn't it always the case that when you want a lawn in a certain place, it won't grow, and when you want to get rid of it, you can't!!!

Feed Skunks? Really???

Petrea said...

Hi Sharon! Maybe I'll mess with it some more.

Pascal Jim: the poo.

Thanks, K.

Chieftess, skunks have to eat, don't they?

Trish said...

wonderful pic!

while not chemical free---you could learn from the folks in less temperate climes...salt will kill just about any growth, just make sure you mean it.

a weed block fabric will hold back most growth, then add rocks or other non-hospitable matter and viola, new yard.

but, why stress over killing it first. if you're going to rototill it, you'll stir up the seeds anyway. Why not pick out what you can, roto it and plan the xeroscape now? no need to put all the trash bags in misery.

TheChieftess said...

I suppose they do, and I suppose there's a place for them...just not around my house!!!!

Petrea said...

That's a lot of salt, Trish.

Chieftess, we have a skunk, too. He eats the cat food our neighbor puts out.

Margaret said...

This picture is so, so cool. You see art everytwhere, which is one reason you are so fabulous.

Claire Bear said...

Great photo--and great project! I did a combination of smothering and what Janet Kincaid recommends--with an added economic incentive: I hired people to use a sod cutter to remove the lawn, donated the lawn to a local public school, and deducted the fair market value of the sod from my taxes. It more than paid for the labor. Then I covered the ground formerly covered by lawn with black plastic (a much heavier grade than trash bags, in a roll from Home Depot). This is important particularly if the lawn you remove spreads by runners (as mine did) because rhizomes buried as deep as a foot could sprout with the least encouragement from sun and water. I had the best success with areas that I left covered for an entire growing season--a full year in these parts. In areas that I covered for only a few months, I pulled weeds every day for months to get rid of the grass.

TheChieftess said...

The trouble with using salt is that it leaves salt in the earth and causes problems for growth of what you want...you'd still have to remove the top layer of soil...

Trish said...

well Petrea...yeah...but...that's a lot of trash bags too! ;-) wonder if there is anything leaking off of the bags into the soil?

and yes, salt will kill everything...that's the point. was presuming you were attempting a rock garden or otherwise reducing the water intake. rocks don't care about salt. didn't say it was chemical free NaCl is a chemical.

failing those...go for the goat. there are OTHER things to pick up, but at least the yard will be fertilized. around me, they rent them by the week to take care of hillsides for fire intense areas. tho, not sure Boz would be happy...so...

get rolling on a larger roll of plastic? hold one end, let it roll? gives new meaning to having a rolling party!

Petrea said...

Margaret, you made my day. Thank you.

Now a good question's been raised by Trish about whether the plastic leeches anything into the soil. I don't know the answer. Claire Bear, thank you for your suggestion--did you leave the plastic down and later take it up, or did you put soil on top and plant in that? I'm still going to have to kill everything. Unfortunately there's no vegetation back there worth selling.

pasadenapio said...

Petrea, we'll pay you up to $2,500 to just dig it up! See more info here about our turf replacement rebates.

dbdubya said...

This is easy, Petrea. Move the blogger picnic to your back yard and tell everyone bring their dogs. Then, make sure they run around a lot and drink a lot of water. If that doesn't work, buy a bunch of beer for the guys and lock the bathroom door. Between the dogs and beer drinkers, your grass should die in no time.

I'm not sure this is environmentally sensitive, but at least it's an organic solution.

altadenahiker said...

Tarp as a canvas. The more you know.

altadenahiker said...

I mean, good show.

SKIZO said...

Thank you for sharing
This Wonderful work with us
Good creations

Susan Campisi said...

I love how those water droplets form. You've captured a small miracle.

Petrea said...

Dubya, I like your idea. I like it very, very much.

Thank you, Hiker.

Welcome, Skizo. Everyone go look at Skizo's blog. Lovely, lovely stuff, very individual.

Susan, I captured some potential standing water/mosquito breeding grounds today, too. Will be pursuing sis-in-law Rebecca's suggestion.

Gina said...

Love the photo, you really do see art in everything.

Are you hoping to plant directly in the ground or do some sort of raised bed scheme? For raised beds the cheapest and most environmentally friendly method is to mark out the bed area, cover it with cardboard, and then mulch/compost over the cardboard. You can then add a border or raised bed around the area of wood, rocks, brick, etc. After a few months you will have the perfect spot for growing organic veggies, etc. There is actually a local company which will set all this up for you:

http://www.farmscapegardens.com/#home

You can also use the cardboard/mulch method for planting directly in the ground, however, it will raise the surface of your planting area somewhat depending on how much mulch you use.

If you are interested in both beauty and edibles may I also suggest Rosalind Creasy's Edible Landscaping:

http://www.amazon.com/Edible-Landscaping-Rosalind-Creasy/dp/1578051541/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1298006896&sr=8-1

TheChieftess said...

DB can always be counted on for sound gardening advice, Petrea!!!

Jane Strong said...

Try these:

Cardboarding your Bermuda Lawn by Orchid Black
http://nativesanctuary.wordpress.com/2009/10/11/cardboarding-your-bermuda-lawn/

Sheet Mulching - Part 1
https://gardennatives.com/joomla/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=57:sheet-mulching1&catid=39:guides&Itemid=81

Removing lawn by Barbara Eisenstein
50 ways to murder your lawn (well 5 anyway) (begins on page 20)
http://www.weedingwildsuburbia.com/presentations/WildSuburbia_CNPSCI_100220c.pdf

Petrea said...

Thanks, Gina. No beds, I've got to take the whole thing out. Thanks for your suggestions.

Jane, these are great! Thank you so much for taking the trouble and sending links. I'll study them.

Dina said...

A wonderful photo!
I wish there were this many Petreas in the world.

Petrea said...

I'm confused enough as it is...
Thank you, Dina.

BarbaraE said...

Yes, a beautiful picture but you may have some problems with the plastic from black garbage bags. Clear plastic works better - greenhouse effect. The sun warms the soil and it steams beneath the plastic. (check uc davis - http://ceamador.ucdavis.edu/files/942.pdf). It also needs to be hot and sunny outside. I have done many things in my yard to get rid of grass. Check my website: http://www.weedingwildsuburbia.com/ or email me: barbara.eisenstein@gmail.com
You're off to a good start!

Petrea said...

Thank you, Barbara E! I may have to dig everything out before I kill it, as opposed to the other way around. I've got a yard full of weeds and grass, so must do that before solarizing, apparently. No such thing as a lazy gardener. I was hoping.

Petrea said...

Pasadena PIO, your comment got caught by my spam filter for some reason. I just found it this morning. Thank you!

I took a look at the offer and it's great, but very complicated. Or I should say, too complicated for me. You have to submit a plan. I guess I could make one up, but basically my plan is to take out a bit of grass, plant something, see if it works, and go from there.

Petrea said...

By the way, Blogger users who are still using the word verification might want to try Blogger's spam filter instead. It's pretty good.

TheChieftess said...

Petrea...I looked on my blog settings etc to find the blogger spam filter but couldn't find it...where do you go to find it???

Petrea said...

It's automatic, Chieftess. You can find it under design>comments>spam. But you don't have to do anything to it, it works on its own. If you go into your settings and uncheck word verification, what will happen is that spam comments will come to your blog but the spam checker will hold them until you decide what to do with them.

If you normally receive comments to your email, you'll see them there. I randomly check to see if they've gone into the posts, but they almost never do.

It's a little extra work for me, but not much, and it makes it so much easier for people to comment.

Petrea said...

I changed my mind about this. Chieftess and I are doing an experiment first.

klikkonthis said...

It looks pretty cool like that... maybe you make the decision to only grow black plastic? :)

Petrea said...

It looks so nice with the "Tudor revival."