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Advice about where to put top soil, please.

 
Liz Bewell
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Hi! We have a huge pile of top soil which was dug from the road going to our new house site. The road is at the side of a piece of land which I intend to make into several keyhole vegetable beds. The land has been left for quite some time and is covered in long grass. What is best, putting down cardboard directly on the grass then pile the top soil onto then add stable litter or put the soil down directly on top of the grass? Or should I cut the grass first? We do not have a machine for cutting grass just a good old fashioned scythe. Thanks in advance for any advice/ ideas. Any questions please ask! Cheers!
 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Welcome to permies Liz
I wouldn't mow first, but I'll always take the easiest way!
My main questions would be:
a) is the grass a clumping or running variety?
It's easy to find out-if you can dig out a clump things are a lot easier;
if there's a dense network of horizontal roots, not so much
b) are there any hardcore perennial weeds like buttercup?

If you answered 'yes' to running grass/perennial weeds, I'd water the spot really deeply,
put down seriously overlapped card, then pile on all your goodies, water well and mulch.
If it's running grass, I seriously suggest not poking holes in the card for a few months,
and keeping an eye on grass incursions...forever...

 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 1992
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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I would lay down print newspaper (not the full color slick sections) then cover that with cardboard followed by some mulch. The ink on the print newspaper will help prevent any running grasses from re-sprouting and coming up through your overlapping layer of cardboard. From this point you can layer dirt, straw, composted manures, sticks and twigs until you are as high as you would like. Or from that same point of mulch over the cardboard you could build a true growing mound (hugelkultur). by layering these types of components you will end up with a wonderful set of garden beds.

We have a combination on our homestead farm of growing mounds, straw bale beds, raised beds and lasagna beds. I still have to set up the rest of the orchard but I like to plant the fruiting trees and shrubs in lasagna beds made just for the particular tree that will go in.
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 1992
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
152
chicken dog forest garden hugelkultur hunting toxin-ectomy
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Liz, upon re-reading your post, I see you say you don't have a machine for cutting grass, just a GOF Scythe. I love the Scythe, mine is around 100 years old, I do not consider it old fashioned though, just retro and energy efficient.
 
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