Sheet Mulching, tips anyone?

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by Maia sue, Feb 15, 2017.

  1. Maia sue

    Maia sue New Member

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    So were finally at the point where we wanna get rid of a piece of lawn at the front of the house. Its a relatively small piece of land, about 15 meters from out house to the street and about 25 meters wide. There are some paths in this area to get to the house and garage, these are stone paths.

    We have already mowed the lawn as short as possible and left the clippings on there. The idea is that we cover the whole area with cardboard (we got some nice big pieces from my husbands workplace) and then cover that with a layer of compost and over that wood chips. I thought to make each layer about 5/6 cm high, so the total layer of mulch will be about 10-12 cm. In the mulch I will plant new perennials and ground cover.

    But the thing that worries me are the borders, where the lawn touches the pavement. How do you prevent the grass from growing from under the cardboard and in the mulch? Are there tips to do this? Do you lay the cardboard a little bit over the paths? Or do you remove a bit of lawn near the edges?

    I hoped that there was someone with tips/experience here :)

    Here you can find a picture of the garden.
     
  2. 9anda1f

    9anda1f Administrator Staff Member

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    Hi Maia Sue, due to the rhizomatous nature of grasses, the edges of sheet mulching can be problematic. I think either of your methods would work ... but I've found that vigilance is also necessary. Maybe dig out a bit right at the boundary and tuck the cardboard down next to the pavement, weighted with a few rocks. I will imagine that over time you'll still have to do a bit of rogue grass root removal.
     
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  3. Bryant RedHawk

    Bryant RedHawk Junior Member

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    Other than what Bill has mentioned; you can lay the cardboard over the paths, You can use a "thermal" killing set up (Black plastic pinned to the soil, under the cardboard). A lot of it depends on what type of grass you have, if it is rhizome grass, like "couch" grass (Bermuda) then there will be patches that make a comeback since the rhizomes will go down to over a foot (30 cm) deep and can from that depth start a new surface plant. The most reliable method I've found over the last 40 years or more is to physically remove all roots/rhizomes by tilling and sifting, every other method I've used results in some come back. You can eradicate it by pulling every newly surfacing greenery of grass constantly, this stresses the rhizome and roots enough to cause them to finally expire, the down side is that it might take a few years to get there.
     
  4. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    it depends upon what types of grasses you have
    some spread by stolons and others stay more clumpy
    and spread more gradually by seeds/roots... and well
    we have both kinds and a few are real tough to keep
    from spreading even in our rock hard clay.

    for along your path edges i would go down about 20cm
    (depending upon grass types) with a thin trench and put
    a few layers of cardboard (fold it so it covers down the
    trench and also across the grassy area) and do several
    overlapping layers so that light does not get through.

    by the time the cardboard degrades the grass roots should
    be dead. but even if you need a second shot in some areas
    it isn't too bad to do it.

    it will take several years to get rid of the more stubborn
    types. i do this sort of thing all the time here. the worms,
    ants, birds, winds, rains will shift seeds around (into the
    germination zone). so a good mulch does help keep those
    from germination and also when they do manage to start
    growing they are much easier to remove when they are in
    a mulch vs. in the hard soil here.

    i would not ever bother with tilling or herbicide. smothering
    with cardboard or any other mulch is so much easier
    especially if you have it available.

    ok, for your specific situation and the mulches you have
    available you might want to make sure you have figured
    out your slopes and drainage because you don't want your
    mulch to get washed away in a heavy rain/storm.

    berms, stakes, straw bales in rows (use wooden stakes to
    nail them down a few feet into the ground if you are worried
    about heavy water flows), rocks, etc. all are useful.
     
  5. Brian D Smith

    Brian D Smith New Member

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    What Songbird says.

    But, grass is the one exception I make for Roundup (glyphosate). Some types of grass are very tough and hard to kill with permaculture methods.
    If you sprayed just the edges, maybe 15 cm, I think your vegies ought to be safe.
     
  6. mischief

    mischief Senior Member

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    What I used to do (when I had a lot of lawn clippings do to being a lawnmowing contractor,) was to mulch the seriously clipped lawn with fresh lawn clippings then lightly wet it with the hose. Then I would squash it all down by stepping on every bit of it.(not stomping).
    I used to do this twice a week apart.
    the third lot of clippings was just loosely laid over it so it stayed nice and fluffy.

    What this method did was cook the in ground grass with the first two layers of mulch. So there is less weed seed coming up through it.
    The third layer stopped the whole thing from getting a hard crust forming which happens when you step all over it and dont put something fluffy over it.
    I learnt that if I didnt put the fluffy layer on top, it seemed to stop the rain from soaking in to the soil.

    I never had a ready supply of cardboard at the time. I do now. If I had to do this now, I would put the card board over the top of the fluffy layer and cover the whole thing with wood chip which I also now have a ready supply of.

    Then I would wait til it had cooled down. Damp squashed grass clippings can stay hot for some time.

    With edges, you go past them so they get fully covered, then, if you need to you rake it back to where it is supposed to be once its all been cooked and cooled.
     
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