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steel 05-18-2008 10:58 AM

Adding additional landscaping
I am going to be landscaping my front yard after three years of boring. I've never really turned a significant sized area into a garden so I am not sure where to begin. Our plan is to get everything set up this year so it is ready to plant next spring.

As of right now there are two apple trees and grass in the area I want to convert. Usually I just dig out the top layer of grass and dirt and replace it with soil (smaller jobs). An area this large would require quite a lot of soil (we are also going to mound the dirt up a little bit) so I am looking for a cheaper alternative.

So...I was given a bit of advice about removing the grass without having to dig it all out, but it sounds a bit rough. The advice was to create a mix of diesel and kerosene and spray it on the grass. From what I was told, the mixture will kill the grass, but not taint the soil. I am also concerned about what effect this will have on the apple trees. They are mature trees, but I can't imagine this mixture would be good for them.

The apple trees have some exposed roots. The plan is to mound the dirt, but I know that too much dirt will choke out the roots. Is there a magic depth of dirt I should add around the trees to cover the roots?

From what I know so far...I am going to try the diesel/kerosene mix (unless I find out it is bad news)...let the grass die..till up the dirt and add extra dirt to create the mounds. This sounds like a reasonable plan so far, but I was looking for any additional advice from the pros.

Should I remove the grass and dirt so I eliminate any problems down the road with the grass popping back thru?

Do I even need to kill the grass since I am adding the additional dirt?

Can I get away with just tilling the grass/dirt and then adding the additional dirt?

Thanks for any help or advice on this. Any time and effort that I can save myself is appreciated.

Allison1888 05-18-2008 02:04 PM

You need to start with an overall site plan that lays out where everything is and what you want to add. There are landscaping companies that will do it for a fee--or try a few gardening books.

downunder 06-13-2008 07:43 PM

This may be too late for you since I just found this forum, but do not use the diesel and kerosene. You will definitely ruin the soil for planting anything else there. Whoever told you to do that should be, well..... Kudos for thinking ahead of time. Ever heard of "lasagna" mulching? Lay a couple of layers of newspaper on the area you want to clear, add a couple of inches of mulch on top. The newspaper will choke out the grass and decompose. Just one of several ideas but please don't put something like solvents or fuels on the ground. Not only that, but if you do it when the weather is hot, the fumes will burn other plants nearby. Read a grass killer label, see the temperature restrictions, and if it is water or solvent based.
By the way, what plants are planning on putting in- flowers, shrubs, mixed,?

white29 06-14-2008 12:53 AM

Kerosene? I wont even address that because I've got to believe that you're more intelligent than that and are simply trying to see if others are dumb. HAHA good one.

white29 06-14-2008 01:25 AM

Sorry,had to leave for a minute. Layout your garden bed shape with a hose. This will allow you to add curves to create interest and the hose can be moved around until you get the shape you want.Once this is done,take a spade and edge carefully along the hose.Now get the hose out of your way and flip the sod back into the new garden space.What you are doing here is defining the edge,and once this done you can carefully spray Roundup or a similar total weed killer to the new garden bed grass or other unwanted vegetation without killing the lawn outside the new bed .Do this two or three days in a row and wait until you start to see the grass die. The newspaper trick on top of the dying grass wont hurt at this point,but not necessary. Now bring in your new topsoil and rake it out. I start all my new beds this way.If you add enough topsoil you'll have no problems and you'll have done the minimum of digging. Good luck and stay away from kerosene and oil unless you're heating your house. Oh,by the way, I'm very organic minded and my property thrives with birds and wildlife. Enivitably someone is going to try to discourage you from using a little Roundup because it's a chemical.BAH! Used sensibly and in moderation it'll cause no problems.

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