Building a flower bed (Killing Grass: Round 2)

My skin is pink and warm. I spent all weekend outdoors, in the garden and on the soccer pitch.

The fresh air, dirt, and blue-sky matches were totally worth the sunburn.

Our neighbor has a farm truck and told us these past weeks that he would soon fill it with a (literal) ton of mulch; he wouldn’t need it all, and would we like to split a truck load with him? He dumped the mulch Wednesday, and on Saturday, our daughter and I drove around town collecting cardboard and newspaper: we were going in for round two of killing the lawn so we can put in a flower bed.

Our first attempt at killing grass with garbage bags failed, so we pivoted. We did some research, and I think we have a better chance of succeeding this time with compostable materials that worms can eat instead of ugly black plastic.

In preparation, my husband lowered the mower blade as low as it would go, and cut a curved shape in the lawn where the flower and herb beds would soon go.

shorn grass for flower bed
Shorn grass for the front flower bed.

Our daughter has been as eager to get out in the garden as I am, and she helped me cover the soon-to-be-dead grass with cardboard and newspaper.

watering cardboard 17
Laying cardboard over close-cut grass to smother it.

We watered the cardboard to soften it, then covered it with mulch. The mulch weighs it down and will also hold moisture, hopefully keeping the thick paperboard damp to help speed up the decomposition process. We covered gaps and filled out the shapes with layers of newspaper 4-6 sheets thick, then watered the mulch and papers again.

mulch on newspaper 19
Mulching over cardboard and newspaper to kill lawn.

We ate through half the chipped bark and wood before our neighbor even touched the ton pile. Even though I hated to stop, we got through two rows of cardboard and newspaper before I reluctantly quit working so we didn’t use all the mulch.

curves of the bed 41
Weighting down the edges while we wait for more mulch.

Our neighbor has said he will gladly get another truckload to split with us, so I’m excited for next weekend, when I hope to get through another section of the soon-to-be flower bed.

I was so happy to be outside, I barely remembered to eat. I made a quick peanut butter and jelly sandwich and ate it on the front steps. I wanted to look out over the yard, what we’ve done, and what we’ve yet to do. Each time we drove up to the house — after soccer, after our daughter’s hair cut — I smiled and did a little dance for our house and garden.

flower bed so far 40
Stopped. For now.

Our daugher and I spent a lot of labor mulching our new plantings, laying biodegradable cardboard and newspaper over unwanted grass, and watering everything in. It’s going to be important that we stay on top of it — keeping everything wet to encourage both growth and decomposition.

I’ve been ignoring those mid-morning calendar reminders to “Water plants” every day for months. We didn’t have anything alive at the time I created the reminders, but I set them knowing this day would come, and I’d need to make sure I made time to nurture plants.

It is spring now, and the weather is beautiful. I’m ready to start taking a break each day to get outside and tend the garden.

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