Keeping the grass/weeds from growing.

topic posted Fri, October 12, 2007 - 4:49 PM by  Unsubscribed
Ok, so I want to landscape/hardscape my yard... In the spring.

I'm in California, so we have the opposite problem most people have. In the summer, the grass and everything on the ground dies because it doesn't rain in the summer. Winter is our wet season, but it doesn't freeze, so that is when the grass really starts to grow.

Can't do the work just yet because of financial reasons, but I want to put something down so that come spring time, I can dig, put in a patio, and do all the stuff I want to do, without having to remove a layer of vegitation (it is currently a nice layer of plant-free dirt).

Landscape fabric, to expensive for covering a large area. (30' x 50'.)

Anyone have any suggestions for what I can put down to keep grass/weeds from growing?
posted by:
Los Angeles
  • Re: Keeping the grass/weeds from growing.

    Fri, October 12, 2007 - 5:41 PM
    cardboard! plus you can just layer over it when the time comes...
    • Re: Keeping the grass/weeds from growing.

      Fri, October 12, 2007 - 8:02 PM
      When I did the landscaping at my university we got all the old papers from the news folks and put those down pretty thick. Then we used a lot of mulch on top of that. Our local dump also had a huge compost pile that they gave away for free. This worked really well.
      • Re: Keeping the grass/weeds from growing.

        Sat, October 13, 2007 - 6:48 AM
        Use the newspapers, the ink is an insetacide as well ( bio-frendly) hardwood mulch, or dirt to hold it down. But don't send it to someone elses compost pile! just turn it under, it's great for the soil. a month berof befor turning, test your soil and put you soil conditioners on the paper then, alowing the paper to start breaking down well in advance of turning. When it's time to turn and plant it's ready to go !
  • Re: Keeping the grass/weeds from growing.

    Fri, October 12, 2007 - 8:17 PM
    Turn the soil. Let whatever seeds are there sprout. Turn the soil again before they go to seed. Let whatever seeds are left sprout again. Turn the soil one more time. The three times should be enough to get them all. Then the only things that would sprout would be those carried in by birds or the wind.
  • Re: Keeping the grass/weeds from growing.

    Sat, October 13, 2007 - 7:38 AM
    Depending on what you have growing in your yard, my best luck has been with black sheeting, which you can get fairly inexpensive in large rolls. It heats up the soil and kills the seeds along with the vegetation. You can also turn the soil and spread corn gluten meal, which is a pre-emergent.
  • Re: Keeping the grass/weeds from growing.

    Sat, October 13, 2007 - 9:21 AM

    The soil is rock hard and clay, so turning it isn't very easy. And I plan on bringing in a tractor to excavate some more and make it level in the spring (clean dirt is easy to dispose, with vegitation it is very difficult).

    I think I'm gonna try and track down some cardboard. That should be pretty easy. And water will pass through it easily instead of running across it and up to the foundation of my house.
    • Re: Keeping the grass/weeds from growing.

      Sat, October 13, 2007 - 12:04 PM
      Personaly, I would avoid cardboard. It is made out of clay and paper, you don't want more clay in your soil. SO you would have the mess and inconvience of disposing of it come spring. And water will run off more than with paper, do to the clay content. I would use the newspaper, held down with sand. this will losen up the soil when you turn it.
      • Re: Keeping the grass/weeds from growing.

        Sat, October 13, 2007 - 5:19 PM
        There isn't clay in your typical cardboard and in newspaper, the ink isn't an herbicide. It's soy based.
        • Re: Keeping the grass/weeds from growing.

          Sun, October 14, 2007 - 8:02 AM
          There IS clay in cardboard, ( the brown type - clay colored) I don't know how much, but enuf to dull a knife pretty quickly, There is not clay in newspaper. And the ink IS a naturail insetacide, ( did I say herbicide befor ? oops, sorry ) This system works the best of any Iv'e found, you can even use in raised mound gardening. I use it exclusivly in gardening between the rows. In that applacation it also serves as great mulch, and you can walk on it when it would otherwise be muddy.
          • Re: Keeping the grass/weeds from growing.

            Mon, October 15, 2007 - 12:27 PM
            I couldn't find enough cardboard to cover the whole area, so i went with...

            Black plastic. My entire back yard is now covered in plastic. The other advantage of this is that the areas where dirt has been moved and piled, the plastic will keep the water off of it, so that it doesn't re-compact, making it harder to move. Water will run over the whole thing, and dump down my driveway (sloped).

            But I also did the front of the house. Here, I put down newspaper, and then put down a layer of wood chips. I do plan on going in and selectively planting some plants here as well. In particular, drought tolerant plants that can survive the california dry summers. Overall, the front looks good. I'm hoping the newspapers keep the weeds away for another year.
          • Re: Keeping the grass/weeds from growing.

            Fri, October 19, 2007 - 12:18 PM
            Dan, can you cite a source to back up the idea that there is clay in cardboard? It's not that it's huge deal, but I've never heard that before and can't find anything online to match that. I don't need any more clay in my soil, so that would be a good reason to stop throwing cardboard shreds in the compost. I thought cardboard dulls knives because it's hard.
            • Re: Keeping the grass/weeds from growing.

              Sat, October 20, 2007 - 8:32 AM
              Lia, I knew a guy that worked in a paper/cardboard manf. plant. He told be about the clay content in corragated cardboard. I never concidered cardboard " hard".
              • Re: Keeping the grass/weeds from growing.

                Fri, December 7, 2007 - 3:22 PM
                grandpa always covere his garen with newspaper and hay every fall. best tomatoes and cukes ever.
                • Re: Keeping the grass/weeds from growing.

                  Sun, December 9, 2007 - 6:47 AM
                  I've asked this question before, but never got an answer. Can I do the newspaper/mulch thing with my front yard if there's a tree in it? I want to keep the tree (for now, anyway), but want to get rid of whatever grass-y stuff grows when I water the tree. I've seen some spikes that will water the roots of the tree without having to water the top of the ground, also, that I want to get. So, I could lay down tons of newspaper and mulch, then poke those spike-things down around the tree to water it.

                  I just want to know if the newspaper will kill the roots of the tree, though?
                  • This is the maximum depth. Additional responses will not be threaded.

                    Re: Keeping the grass/weeds from growing.

                    Sun, December 9, 2007 - 8:07 AM
                    The mulch, be it the baged type , or newspaper, keeps the moisture in the soil, not out of it. You can mulch (not more than 2-3 in. mold and fungus will grow in it.) or cover with news paper, with out effecting the tree. Trees get there water from the root system that runs around the "drip line ". That being the edge of the canopy. you're probaly mulching inside of the drip line ( around the base of the tree) The watering spikes you mention are ment for new plantings. They alow the water to be placed deeper in the ground, so that the roots grow deeper, thus making them more drought and infestation resistnt.
                    mature trees do not need watering, unless in extreem drought. If you have to water, do it around the drip line, where the collector roots are.
                    • Re: Keeping the grass/weeds from growing.

                      Wed, December 12, 2007 - 4:22 AM
                      The mulching would be all over the front yard. We live in Phoenix, so our trees do need watering -- at least, this one. It's a mulberry tree, which isn't drought-resistant. We want to eventually remove it for more DR trees, but, it's providing terrific shade for the house in summer right now.

                      These spikes are designed to get the water down to the roots, without having to water a lawn, as far as I can tell.

                      So, how do I go about watering this tree, while killing off the grass???
  • Re: Keeping the grass/weeds from growing.

    Fri, December 7, 2007 - 4:30 PM
    I don't know what your square footage is, but you might try cruising a few construction sites for sheet rock remnants. It'll cover the same way tarp and newspaper will with the added benefit of loosening up the soil in the spring when you till it in. It's mostly calcium compounds so it should help make your "dirt" more friable.
    • Re: Keeping the grass/weeds from growing.

      Sat, December 8, 2007 - 2:55 PM
      Isn't there a lot of lime in sheet rock ?
      • Re: Keeping the grass/weeds from growing.

        Sun, December 9, 2007 - 9:21 AM
        <Isn't there a lot of lime in sheet rock ?>

        It's mostly calcium carbonate.

        It's almost identical to blackboard chalk.

        It's pretty useful for loosening up clay-bound soil.
        • Re: Keeping the grass/weeds from growing.

          Mon, December 10, 2007 - 11:03 AM
          Since this was originally posted long ago, and dug up recently, thought I'd give an update to how it's working.

          In the back, i put down black plastic. It works great because it's keeping the plants from growing, and also keeping the dirt from getting any harder. I did it this way, because I plan on doing construction in that area after the rains. Did not want to use newspaper and mulch, because that would just mean extra stuff to scrape off the top in the spring, which would be just as much or even more work than removing whatever grass weeds grow there.

          In another area, I did put down newspaper and wood chips, as I will eventually do some selective planting there. Seems to work ok, although I do see alot of the stronger weeds poking their head through in areas, and I have to stay on top of it and pull them up or spray them down. In hindsight, I'd probably buy some landscaping fabric and put that down instead of newspaper. Also, the woodchips do look nice, which is important since this is in the front of the property (the plastic is covering an area in the back and out of site.)
          • Re: Keeping the grass/weeds from growing.

            Wed, December 12, 2007 - 5:14 AM
            I live in Wi. and have used newspaper covered with mulch for years . for me it works great and i also have dirt that is mostly clay and have noticed that after awhile strong weeds and creeping vines come thru. I like the idea of adding sand first ,then turning it to soften the dirt.
            Also found that several layers of paper work better. I use grass clippings on the dirt as well as peat moss before i turn it. That has been the best so far, huge bag for about $5 .
  • Re: Keeping the grass/weeds from growing.

    Thu, January 17, 2008 - 10:24 PM
    Wow, lots of responses... Not sure if anyone suggested it, but I found that just pouring a coffeepot of boiling water on any unwanted grass or weeds usually kills um... works great for cracks in a driveway, walkway etc... I suppose you'd have a lot of water to boil to cover a patio area, but it's pretty cheap, esp if you do a pot or two a day while you're doing other thingsin the kitchen...

    I'd suggest salt, but it isn't always the most environmentall friendly way to get rid of plants... salting the earth and so on...

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