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Responsible ways to feed grass to death...

 
gardener
Posts: 3201
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
362
forest garden trees urban
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I'm trying to kill the grass in a lot I own.
I've already imported woodchips, torched it,  pulled it up,  weed whacked it hard, etc.
I would till the woodchips under  to sap the soil of nitrogen as the break down,  but the ground is too rocky.
Adding huge amounts of nitrogen to an urban yard seems irresponsible,otherwise I would fertilizer burn it.

Now I'm thinking of pH as a tool for killing the grass.
Lowering pH with sulfur, or raising it with lime,either might kill the grass in the spots where it persists.

Might be a terrible idea,  but I thought I would throw it out there.
What do y'all think?
 
pollinator
Posts: 704
Location: NW California, 1500-1800ft,
137
hugelkultur dog duck
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Most grasses will die if sufficiently shaded, but I’d consider what you want to replace it with in determining how to deprive the plant you don’t want from getting light. You could deep sheet mulch , 3ft deep or more to really knock it out, or 12” and be ready to pull any sprouts. Or, solarize (wouldn’t be my preferred option, as it kills soil fungus). However, I believe that almost any plant is better than bare soil unless you have seeds, starts or saplings to put there instead at that moment. Grass is holding the soil, reducing runoff, and  building organic matter as it  puts carbon in the soil with sugars that are traded with other plants through soil microbes. Every time you mow and leave the clippings you are essentially chopping and dropping, not only adding the 10% nitrogen tops of the plant, but also the roots die back proportionately and in doing so effectively inject compost. Ideally, I’d get rid of grass like natural forest succession does, grow other plants, especially woody perennials and trees,  The shade combined with fungally dominated soil life will suppress the grasses.  
 
steward
Posts: 8843
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
2543
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What do you want to replace the lawn with?  Changing the pH enough to kill the grass may make it hard to grow other desirables.  I've had pretty good luck with an overlapping layer of cardboard that is then covered with wood chips or soil.  Wood chips if you want to plant shrubs/trees in the area.  If I want a quick garden patch you can cover it with extra soil but you need to poke holes through cardboard at every seed location.  And the cardboard needs to break down so it's best to do this during a rainy period or the soil on top will dry out very quickly.
 
Posts: 9002
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
670
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I wonder about a couple of quick succession of something like buckwheat, or even corn grown so close together that maybe you will just be producing silage but it would shade the grass out. You could even get the corn going and then just stopped watering.

Or corn squash and beans, for a total smothering. Of course you probably need pretty good soil for that.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1416
Location: Denmark 57N
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Cardboard/newspaper covered in grass clipping is how I cleared some old lawn for tomatoes, of course there needs to be no wind! (that was inside a polly tunnel) I used 3 layers of newspaper and perhaps an inch of clippings, it wasn't much but pure lawn grass is not that hard to kill.
 
William Bronson
gardener
Posts: 3201
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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Thanks for these great replies.
Sounds like more chips is the way to go, maybe over top of cardboard.
Spreading them is  quite the task, but I need the soil anyway.
I have a chainsaw now,  so I will experiment with log rounds and DIY planks.

I have an idea that would use untreated  pallet boards.
I don't want to introduce nails or screws to the soil, but I was thinking that pallet boards held together with staples from an airgun would make for grass suppressing, biodegradable "mats".

It's been a while since I sowed a cover crop over there.
Intentionally planted broad leaf plants are not covered by the laws against long grass.
Those laws are  what I'm struggling against.
Tillage radish struggled to survive in the rocks there, so I'm anxious for a good substitute.
I have may even plant running comfrey!

 
Posts: 203
Location: NNSW Australia
27
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When I was too lazy to dig, I would add just enough wood ash in dry weather to wither the grass (don't overdo it).
Then broadcast hardy grain and veg seed into it after a light rain. (Sorghum, chilli & tomatoes)

My soil was acid and my grasses couldn't tolerate the pH change - your mileage may vary.
I know of a few grasses that tolerate high pH and potassium levels all too well.
 
Ben Zumeta
pollinator
Posts: 704
Location: NW California, 1500-1800ft,
137
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rocky soil and enough sun for grass makes me think grapes if it drains decently.
 
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