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leaves to kill grass over Winter for Spring garden bed  RSS feed

 
Adam Buchler
Posts: 70
Location: New Jersey
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Since there is a lot of controversy about chemicals in cardboard I was considering using ONLY leaves to kill a selected plot of grass so that I can plant in the Spring without ripping up sod and tilling the ground. I was wondering if anyone has experience doing this(using ONLY leaves to kill grass). If so, do you mulch the leaves with the mower or leave them whole? And, how think of a layer of leaves to I need to ensure that the grass will die over the winter/early spring?

PS; I know that unmulched leaves will not decompose over the winter but I don't mind raking them back up in the spring and throwing them in the compost pile...it still beats ripping up sod.
 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Welcome to permies Adam
It depends very much on the grass variety.
If it's a running grass, it'll probably need more than leaves; but if it's just wimpy clumping stuff, a good thick layer of leaves should do it.
I wouldn't mulch the leaves, but others might recommend it.
If you lay something high in nitrogen between the grass and leaves, it'll help speed up breakdown.
Manure, grass clippings, blood and bone, used coffee grounds, urine...
 
S Bengi
Posts: 1357
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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If you only cover the grass in the winter nov-april, then remove the leaves the grass will still be alive because they dont use much energy in the winter, and they store alot of energy. You will have to keep the grass covered for spring+summer if you plan on suppressing them. You could try daikon radish as a living mulch. They have roots that go down 6ft , so they dont have to fight with the grass root but the daikon radish leaves will shade out the grass.
 
Adam Moore
Posts: 123
Location: Mansfield, Ohio Zone 5b percip 44"
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I have used a clear sheet of plastic or black tarp in the summer to burn off the grass. Never tried it in the winter but maybe there will be enough sunny days? As far as the leaves, I never mulch my leaves. I place over a foot of leaves on all my beds in the fall with sticks sometimes to hold them in place. By late spring they are almost all eaten up by the soil biology and my beds are full of worms and life.
 
Adam Buchler
Posts: 70
Location: New Jersey
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If you only cover the grass in the winter nov-april, then remove the leaves the grass will still be alive because they dont use much energy in the winter, and they store alot of energy. You will have to keep the grass covered for spring+summer if you plan on suppressing them. You could try daikon radish as a living mulch. They have roots that go down 6ft , so they dont have to fight with the grass root but the daikon radish leaves will shade out the grass.
Ok so even if grass isn't dead by march do you think I can just use a dibble and plant right through the layer of leaves at that time? Or do you think the dormant grass underneath will cause problems for any new veggie seeds/seedlings that I plant in march?
 
Johnny Niamert
Posts: 268
Location: Colo
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I expanded my garden at my old house the way Adam described during winter. Put down contractor plastic, weighed down with logs, about this time of year.

In the spring, removed plastic and the area was covered with leaves, hay, compost, chips, etc...

No grass, even crab. Bindweed made it through fine, though.
 
Adam Buchler
Posts: 70
Location: New Jersey
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S Bengi wrote:If you only cover the grass in the winter nov-april, then remove the leaves the grass will still be alive because they dont use much energy in the winter, and they store alot of energy. You will have to keep the grass covered for spring+summer if you plan on suppressing them. You could try daikon radish as a living mulch. They have roots that go down 6ft , so they dont have to fight with the grass root but the daikon radish leaves will shade out the grass.
If I don't rake up the leaf mulch and just leave it all spring/summer, do you think i can just use a dibble and plant right through the mulch in the spring time? or do you think the dormant grass underneath will interfere with any seeds/seedlings that I plant through the layer of leaves?
 
Adam Moore
Posts: 123
Location: Mansfield, Ohio Zone 5b percip 44"
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In my expierence if the leaves are thick enough it will drown out the grass. Especially if the grass is weakened by mowing it super short or I have even used a maddock pick to tear up the roots a bit if its a small area. I have prepared a bed that way here in Ohio and it worked fine. But I don't have bindweed or anything like that in my yard which probably makes a difference. I think your plan with the dibble should work. If you think of trees, it's their strategy to drown out the grass by dropping leaves every year. But I guess they use shade too.
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