When you start new flower beds ...?

Lilyfinch z7 mid tnJune 17, 2014

What do you do with all the sod you take up ?

At my last house I made a horrible monstrosity of a pile behind my shed and that was a huge mistake . Not sure what I was thinking. Weeds grew like crazy and it started to look rediculous .

We now have a blank slate and I have no idea what to do with the grass when we remove it ! What do you do ?

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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

Don't remove it. By stripping and dumping the sod you are throwing away some of the most valuable soil you have and leaving yourself with a bed below grade which you have to fill with effort and expense.

You could either do traditional double digging, in which case you bury the sod, or one of the cover and kill methods, in which case the sod rots down and improves the soil in your bed.

That heap behind the shed may well provide you with some wonderful soil if you dig into it. Rotted sod was a key ingredient in old timers' potting mixes.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 9:27AM
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aachenelf z5 Mpls

flora is correct, but if for some reason that doesn't work for you and you still want to remove it and you have a place to pile it, try this:

Pile it up, wet it down really well, and then cover the pile with black plastic. The plastic will prevent weeds from growing and will speed up the decomposition process. After a few months, the whole pile - sod and all - should be well rotted. You can reuse the whole pile in your garden.

or if you have a lot of time to wait:

Cover the area you want to be your garden with plastic. Let it sit and cook all season. By next spring the sod will be dead and decomposed, the ground will be sterilized of weed seeds. Remove the plastic, break up the ground a bit and plant. You won't have any sod to remove.


    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 9:54AM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada

I do lift the sod just to speed things up a bit - but I don't discard it! I do a sort of modified lasagna approach - I lift the sod in late summer/early fall, turn it upside down in the bed area, sprinkle some compost accelerator on it if I have any around, cover it with newspapers, add a layer of chopped leaves on top and leave it for the winter. By spring it has rotted down and can be planted into easily. I've never had grass regrow from the upside down rotted sod but maybe I have well-behaved grass :-) If you have a lot of couchgrass or other nasty spreaders, you might want to wait a year before planting to watch for grass returning.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 10:02AM
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Lilyfinch z7 mid tn

Omgosh these are great ideas! I truthfully had forgotten about these methods , I read about them a loooong time ago and obviously didn't listen , so now I will .
I like the plastic idea ... Wonder if it'll be ready by fall tho ? I have lots of roses I promised a new home to ;)
Or the double digging ... If the plastic won't work.
Thanks for the great ideas ! :)

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 11:03AM
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aachenelf z5 Mpls

lily - I just noticed you're a couple of zones warmer than me and I would imagine you're summers are way hotter than mine. So yes, the plastic method might do the job by fall. In fact, I bet it will.

I used this method on a new garden area a couple of years ago and seriously it was the easiest garden I have ever made. Once the plastic was taken off, I didn't have to do anything other than breaking the ground up a bit to plant. All the grass and weeds were gone.


    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 11:19AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

outline the bed ... spray it with round up ... and the following weekend .... and add soil on top ...

basically ... you are removing a layer of compost.. to build a bed on top .. and then adding compost.. whats that all about ...

if you refuse RU ... rent a sod cutter if of significant size.. cut the sod.. flip it over.. and bury it with the new soil ... do not leave it buried.. near the edges where the new soil might thin ...

work smart.. not hard ... crikey ...


    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 11:45AM
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The best time to start a new bed is in the late fall. Just smother the area you plant to plant in the spring with several bales of hay. When spring comes, you can just dig holes in the hay and plant. Use hay - not straw. Straw has no nutrients.

Hay is my favorite mulch and you can often get it for nothing if you have farmers around. They might have old or spoiled hay that can't be used for animal feed.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 3:47PM
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Thyme2dig NH Zone 5

At my old house we just tilled it into the soil. Didn't dig it up at all. After tilling a couple of times we just had to pick out a handful of clumps here or there. It worked well and we didn't have grass grow back in the bed from anything left behind.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 6:08PM
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michey1st_gw Zone 7

Will any of these techniques work with Zoysia grass (short of pulling up the sod)? The stuff seems near impossible to kill and i'm paranoid leaving any trace of it will allow it to overtake my new flowerbeds.

Right now, what I do is remove the sod in clumpsand shake off the top soil to try and preserve some of the "good" soil for the bed, but I hope there's a better (ie easier) way!

Your thoughts are appreciated!


    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 8:06AM
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With aggressive southern grasses like shudder bermuda, and probably zoysia, you better kill it with heat treatment and/or roundup first. Else you'll be very very very sorry by midspring next year.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 8:13AM
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Campanula UK Z8

exactly as has been suggested....but when making a turf stack, I often add a handful of lime between some of the (upside down) turf layers and always cover it with black plastic. It will take a year to rot down but you will be left with a pile of wonderful friable topsoil. A little base fertliser added and it makes a superior potting soil. As long as the stack is large enough, the heat generated will usually kill off pernicious weeds, roots and seeds....but you can always spray a herbicide a week before lifting the sod.
Double digging, as Flora says, is a wonderful method of preparing new beds but it is hard work and a fairly lengthy process - I do it once and single digging (if at all) in following seasons.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 8:37AM
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Lilyfinch z7 mid tn

Does anyone think black plastic from fall to spring will kill off grass ?
I planned on using plastic out of shear simplicity . I just realized it may not be warm enough to kill grass. Sometimes I have great ideas , totally lacking common sense . :)

    Bookmark   October 18, 2014 at 12:14PM
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pitimpinai(z6 Chicago)

The easiest way to make a new flower bed without digging without chemicals is make a lasagna bed. I have used this method until I have no lawn left.

First, outline the bed, score the sod along the outline, cover the entire area sod and all with cardboard or 5-6 sheets of wet newspaper, dump shreded leaves, compost, fresh compost, horse manure, mulch, hay, whatever mulch you have and let it sit through the winter.

If you want to plant right away, just add pockets of top soil and plant in the pocket. Voila! An instant flower bed. No fuss, no digging, no spraying with chemicals.

This method works with zoysia grass too, but it takes much longer than other grass to decompose.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2014 at 6:45PM
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Shake out as much soil from the sod as is reasonably possible. Throw remaining sod on the compost pile or use it to sod/level/raise other areas of the garden.

For new beds I lay down recycled corrugated cardboard over the garden bed soil and overlap the edges. The cardboard smothers weeds and doesn't break down as fast as layers of newspaper. Use a box cutter to shape the cardboard to your needs. Cover cardboard with bark mulch.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2014 at 9:47PM
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Lilyfinch z7 mid tn

Thanks , I read a lot about that today. I was just hoping to be lazy, roll out a roll of plastic , and deal with it in the spring! Probably too cold for that .

    Bookmark   October 18, 2014 at 9:54PM
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