3 Strategies for Replacing your Lawn

This article was written  first appeared in Sunset

Ready to lose your traditional thirsty turf-grass lawn? Here are three ways to go

SHRINK IT

To transform a lawn into a garden bed without the hassles of stripping sod, simply smother it under layers of newspaper and a load of manure in fall. Then let the grass decompose naturally all winter. The underlying grass should disappear, roots and all. Come spring, you can plant directly through the rotted manure without having to till it or other amendments into the soil (tilling can encourage weed seeds to germinate). Note: This technique works well on cool-season grasses such as bent and fescue, but not Bermuda, St. Augustine, or zoysia.

Here's how to do it:

  • With a hose, outline the shape of your new lawn-free garden bed. Use a sharp spade to dig a 2-inch-deep, V-shaped groove around the outlined area.
  • Finish digging the groove around the outlined area. Remove the sod from the groove; toss it back on the part of the lawn you plan to smother.
  • Cover the smother area with four to six layers of newspaper, tuck the edges into the groove, then spread a 6-inch layer of manure over the newspaper.
  • After the grass beneath has decomposed (in two to four months), plant through the manure.