Hattie, my mom’s second cousin from Atlanta, has a fairly small backyard in which there once was a vegetable garden plot. This was more 15 years ago. Now the garden is all grass. Hattie would like to start a vegetable garden once again, but, first, she needs to remove all of the grass. She sent me an email with two simple questions:
1) What tool(s) should I use to remove the grass?
2) What tool(s) should I use to loosen up the soil beneath the grass?
I’m going to share the answer I gave Hattie with you in case you’re ever in the same situation as her (or in the same situation as me).
It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of machinery. I told Hattie that the two best tools for grass removal are a sod cutter and a rotor-tiller.
Of course, Hattie might not want to pulverize her soil. In that case, the sure fire way to get rid of grass is to use a shovel. It is a lot more work, but it might be worth the effort in the long run. Tilling, after all, breaks down the soil, kills beneficial fungi, worms, insects, and it disturbs colonies of beneficial soil bacteria. However, faced with days of back breaking labor in Atlanta’s famous heat, I’d opt for the machinery and amend the soil over time.
Another option that I gave Hattie is to make as many veggie plots as needed and separate them with paths. It suggested that she make the plots no more than three-feet across and as long as she desires. Between the plots, she can create a walking path, leaving enough room to kneel. The path can be covered with sections of newsprint that are then covered with grass clippings that have not been chemically treated. This procedure will save her from having to weed an entire area, and it will go a long way toward preventing compacted soil in the growing plots.