From the monthly archives:

September 2008

Removing your Lawn III

by Lorraine on September 9, 2008

It’s been a few days since I wrote the last post on the lecture regarding how to kill your lawn and I want to conclude that discussion in this post.  


The solarizing method is similar to the Lasagne method, as the lawn is covered up and denyed any water or sunlight.  Essentially the difference is, that with solarizing the lawn it is completely covered over with plastic.   And you know what happens when you cover grass with plastic.


Remember those wading pools that we had as kids?  Mom or Dad would put it on the grass and fill it up with water, so that we could splash around in it, frolicking to our delight on a hot Summer day.   Yeah, if left in place too long, it always killed the lawn.


So, cover it up with lots of plastic and wait it out.   Again, your neighbors may not be too happy with your new avaunt garde look, but it’s effective.


Out of the four choices, Steve said that the best method is to simply scrape it off using  mechanical means.   In other words a very large blade.   This would certainly be the most physically demanding method but it works.  And you may have the extra benefit of dropping a few pounds and building some muscle!


He said that it’s important to be sure that the area to be cleaned, is wet when you start as this will make it considerably easier to scrape the lawn off the top of the soil.  However, it could possibly take quite some time before the lawn surrenders to your continual onslaught, but eventually it will give up growing and then you can get started on your new garden.


I hope that this information on how to remove a lawn has been a bit helpful.   I know that it’s not thoroughly detailed and as I mentioned in an earlier post, due to the amount of questions that Steve answered from the audience, he jumped around in his discussion, making it a little challenging for me to take accurate notes.


In closing this post, he provided the following website that provides a list of invasive plants.   Too many times, people will buy a plant or plants from a nursery and don’t know that it is a problem plant.   Several ornamental grasses are very invasive, such as Fountain Grass and lately it seems to be a popular choice for gardens because it is pretty.  


Stay away from it!


Here’s the site, check it out:


Summer in the Garden

by Lorraine on September 5, 2008

I’ve had a number of requests for some recent pictures of the garden so I took a few photos yesterday in the afternoon and then in the evening.   You will notice that where the Poppies were previously blooming, things look a little bare, other than one Sage that is growing after having been smothered by the poppies.


The Asters (Chilensis) are the large bushes with purple flowers and the reddish flowers on the other plants are  Zauchneria’s, otherwise know as Fuchsia’s and in this case, Everetts Choice.   The Hummingbirds are nuts over these and from early morning until almost dark they are swirling through the garden and enjoying all the nectar that they can manage to suck up.




The Garden in the Evening

In the foreground of one of the pictures, you can see a rather large bush with yellow-gold flowers.  The leaves are heart-shaped and very, very velvety to the touch.  This is a favorite plant of mine and there are two more along the side of the wall, but this one is the biggest.


It’s an Abutilon palmeri/ Indian Mallow and I darn near killed it when I planted it because it was in a 5 gal. container and pretty large at the time.   I struggled getting it into the ground and may have damaged the roots in the process because it looked really bad for weeks afterwards.


During that period of time while I waited and watched to see if it would live or not, I kept a table over it to keep it in the shade during the hottest time of the day.  I am now amazed when I see at it, because it looks so good and it’s completely covered in flowers and is thriving in spite of my ineptness.


Indian Mallow


I guess my patience and extra special after care- paid off.


Removing the Lawn II

by Lorraine on September 4, 2008

Previously I listed four ways to do this and one of them is laughingly referred to as the “Lasagne”  method.  Apparently this works really well but you might create enemies with your neighbors because your yard is going to look really trashy for a while.


The technique is kind of interesting and certainly very safe for the environment, but it involves layering cardboard and newspapers that have been soaked.   You place this mess over your lawn and then cover it all up with mulch.


You have to keep it damp and anything that is under this mess, is doomed.   The grass and weeds will all die and it may take as little as a few weeks or up to four months!   By which time, you have probably been cited by your community for having an unsightly debris pile in your front yard and every stray cat in the area has visited it for potty purposes.


If you have really hard soil, Steve suggested that some gypsum be spread on the dirt prior to making your “lasagne”receipe.   This will help break it up a bit quicker.


So if you, your spouse  (If you remain married during this period of time.) and your neighbors can stand looking at this, you will most certainly kill your lawn but the downside is, you will also have very rich, soil.   And what’s wrong with that?


The answer is, Native plants generally do not like soil that is rich and typically what will happen is that they will grow to be very big, very fast.   And then speed through their life cycle quicker and then before you know it, you’re replacing them.


You may want to investigate this method but not now.   It’s already too late in the year and if you decide to go this route, you won’t be able to install your plants this winter.   You would have to wait until next year.


Lawn Removal Methods

by Lorraine on September 3, 2008

Previously I mentioned that I had attended a lecture on how to remove a lawn prior to installing a Native plant garden and that there are four methods to do this.   My notes are a bit weak and not very detailed but I think the reader will get the general idea.

The speaker said that the best time to remove a lawn is in the summer before the Fall/Winter planting season.   And he feels that the best method is mechanical but it does takes quite a bit of physical labor, so be prepared for a workout.

Here are the four methods that he discussed:


  • Chemical Means (Herbicides, etc.)
  • Layering (Lasagne Method)
  • Solarizing
  • Mechanical Means


The first method is pretty obvious.  Kill it with herbicides, in other words, RoundUp but be sure to follow the directions and don’t overdose!   I had the typical Bermuda lawn with a really, really thick thatch because it was an old and established lawn.     and because of this, I was very concerned about how deep the roots were and that it might be impossible to permanently eliminate it.

I wasn’t aware of any other methods to get rid of it, so my contractor simply sprayed it with RoundUp, killed it and then I had to water it to bring it back up again for another dose of the chemical.   This was done about three times before we felt that it had been effectively removed.

Using chemicals will also eliminate any invasive weeds or plants but you have to be careful about accidentally spraying , (Opps!) any other plants in the area that you wish to keep.   And of course, you are using a product that is not environmentally friendly.


Lawns & Native Plant Gardens

by Lorraine on September 1, 2008

I have been posting material that I wrote prior to creating this blog and it has been in chronological order.  My idea was to gradually bring the reader up to the present.   But I decided today, to jump a head a little bit and discuss a lecture that I attended called,  “Kill Your Lawn” in case anyone wants to get started on their garden in the next few months.


If you are considering doing a Native garden, you have to eliminate your lawn as soon as possible because the planting season for Natives is just around the corner as we head into Fall and Winter.  It’s not too late to start making plans, but it’s really important to allow enough time to “kill your lawn” and prepare the area for your new plants!


I attended a lecture early in August offered by the Theodore Payne Foundation, called “Kill Your Lawn”!   A pretty hilarious name but quite descriptive of the material that was presented to a very large group of attendees.


The speaker was Steve Gerischer with Larkspur Garden Design but unfortunately, he doesn’t have a web site, otherwise, I would list it here.   He was quite entertaining in his presentation as he discussed the different methods to remove a lawn.  And there are several and I will do the best that I can to share that information with you.


Due to the fact that the enrollment was so large for this lecture, it actually had to be moved off site from Theo. Payne Foundation’s property.   And just about everyone had a million questions, not only about lawns but weeds, irrigation and other pesty problems as well.


So it made it a little bit difficult for Steve to stick to his presentation, as he kept answering  questions from the audience.   And I did the best that I could with my notes, but at times it was confusing and now looking at them, I’m wondering what I meant when I was writing them down. 


Just keep in mind, that I’m not an expert and I’m learning, too.  But hopefully, the reader will get something of value out of this.

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