What is the most organic way to turn grass into bare soil for a garden?

Julia M asks: What is the most organic way to turn grass into bare soil for a garden?
I want to take a small back yard and turn it into an organic garden but it is filled with old crab grass and weeds and I want to build up organic soil

The answer voted best is:

Answer by curmudgeon
Cover it with a foot of hay. When everything dies, roto-till the whole thing into the soil.

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  1. The hay thing is a good idea, because as the hay decays it will add nutrients and help retain water while trying to blot out the weeds.

    If hay is not available though, the easiest things to do would be to cover the area you want to use with a black tarp or series of large black garbage bags. Without the sunlight to help it grow and the extra heat baking the plants beneath it, the weeds should all die off and leave the area bare or with white or yellow grass.

    You can then rent a garden tiller and break up the entire section with the machine. Take out any roots and rocks, and add black earth, peat moss (or equivalent), and an appropriate organic fertilizer or compost. Then just pick the plants you want to grow and away you go.

    I would suggest that you start small, and then you can expand the garden later. Our family garden started as a 6′ X 8′ plot and now is about 12′ X 24′ as we found other plants to grow and varied the vegetable locations.

  2. The hay idea may work, but beware. Hay often contains weed seed, grass hay is especially bad, that will become a problem in your garden.

    I would suggest getting some heavy black plastic and staking it down in the area you want to convert. It will kill off the grass. Check it after a month or so to see if it’s finished the job. The heat generated will kill off the grass and help prevent germination of the seeds of the crabgrass and other weeds. After it’s all good and dead, you can rototil it in and add 2″-3″ of compost and till it in also.

  3. Pull the crab grass and weeds up and shake off as much dirt as possible. Place all this material in a pile where it will get full sun. Over the course of a few months the vegetation will decompose and become excellent soil.

  4. dig, dig, dig. Spade it in and keep spading. eventually, you’ll kill all of the grasses, etc. Pull the weeds and let them compost, then add that back into the soil.

    sounds like a LOT of work, doesn’t it??

    You’re going to need some compost to build your organic value. Just the existing plants won’t do that much to build value. Composted leaves are good, as is COMPOSTED farm manure.

  5. I did this for my garden and it work like a charm.Take clear plastic not the dark and lay it over the area you want to manage.It will take the hot summer sun approximately two to three months to kill the roots of every living weed.Next you will have to turn the soil but don’t worry it will be easy to do.I would recommend adding the necessary amendments while you are turning the soil.I cant emphasize enough that the dark weed block/plastic will only protect the weed seeds and deep roots by retaining moisture you want to go in the other direction by killing everything.

  6. Don’t do what this person above has done and put black tarp down. My neighbor did this for 6 months. And when she took the tarp off the weeds were still there but they were now white because of lack of sun. I saw this episode on http://www.HGTV.com where they were doing an organic garden and they just put things right over the weeds. You should go to their website and try to find organic gardens.

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