howto, little woods homestead, patterns & tutorials

How to Dig a Weed Free Garden Bed

This year I decided move a few things around in my yard. The coop is in the corner and the chickens get their own space (so Bob doesn’t terrorize them) and instead of having the garden in a square, I’m moving it along the fence. The hope is that this will considerably open up the feel of the yard while over doubling my garden in size.

But there is the matter of the grass (weeds) where I want the garden to go.

Step One: Mark out the garden

Use a measuring tape and then mark the borders with a piece of wood or spray paint. While my guestimations were good, they were also very cock-eyed. We straightened things up with some spray paint and a measuring tape.

Step Two: Lift away the grass

I cut the sod into 6″ squares with my shovel and lifted it away a chunk at a time. This is the first part of the weed free equation, by removing the grass completely, it won’t crop up again in a week or two like it does when you use a rototiller.

Step Three: Cover the bare dirt

Covering the dirt has a two-fold purpose. One is it keeps moisture in. Two is it keeps new weeds from cropping up. Straw (not hay which has seed heads still attached) or grass clippings work great.

Dig dig dig.

Cover cover cover.

Here’s Michelle lifting the final bit of sod out of the first garden bed. The total size of the new garden is 4′ deep by 50 feet long.

And what did we do with all that sod bits? Well we tossed it onto bare patches in hopes that it would take root (doubtful). Seriously though I’m using it to fill holes the chickens dug all over the yard. Which is another reason they are now confined to a corner for most of the day. If you want to compost them, put them roots up on the driveway and dry them out before adding to the compost bin.

Now, this is something I hadn’t thought of, but there might be more steps if you live outside the midwest. I’ve taken our awesome soil for granted, but Michelle (whose helping me in the garden this year for a share of the space and bounty) kept saying “oh my gosh, this dirt is so black!” She just moved here from Texas and the soil is all clay and sand. So if you live elsewhere, you’ll need to dig in some compost and top soil before topping it off with straw or mulch.

I hope you all are having a great spring!
Kristin