The Q&A Archives: soil preparation

Question: I want to start a veggie gargen. I live in north central Texas. I have a sunny backyard with mostly bermuda grass. How should I get rid of the grass. Roundup? Newspapers? Black plastic?

Answer: Welcome to gardening! If you can, find a friend, sibling, or spouse to help you with the ground-breaking. Make a party of it, like a barn-raising! The ecologically sound options involve a lot more muscle and committment than using RoundUp. Bermudagrass is difficult to control, but by following these instructions, you can work around (I should say through) it. If you start now, you should have the soil in good shape for a garden in a couple of months. The best way to start is to first dig up as much of it as you can, removing as many root and shoot pieces as possible. Edge the area with 6" wide paving stones, and cover the area with clear plastic for 3-5 weeks. The hot sun will "cook" the root pieces that remain under the plastic so they won't resprout. When you remove the plastic, mulch with a thick layer of newspapers followed by straw or other organic mulch. The bermudagrass will probably find a way into the garden here and there, but the mulch makes it a lot easier to pull out. Keep things growing as much of the time as possible to compete with any lurking bermudagrass. Best of luck to you!

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