How do u easily turn a crappy front lawn into a ground cover in sunny location?

It's in zone 5. Do I use black plastic to kill existing lawn? For how long? Then what?


  • Merin Porter
    Merin Porter Posts: 1,026 admin

    Hi @SYLVIA DAVIDSON -- Marjory actually did a video that shows how to turn a grassy area into a garden bed. I know that's not your exact aim here, but you might be able to use some of her tips to get rid of the grass simply.....

    Here's the link:

  • shllnzl
    shllnzl Posts: 1,816 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @SYLVIA DAVIDSON If your lawn has lots of bare spots, you could just over seed the whole area with what you want and hope the grass gets overwhelmed. Red clover would be one choice that also has medicinal use.

  • ines871
    ines871 Posts: 1,283 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited August 2019

    Hi @SYLVIA DAVIDSON - Well, since I wanted the Front (of the house) to both look beautiful 🙂 plus be Edible at the same time: layed a natural ground-floor of Free woodchips Right on top of the grass. Achieves 2 purposes at the same time: the grass is gone quick; & while it decomposes it will enrich the soil for the edibles... for which I chose the tiny yet Sweetest 🙂 Alpine strawberries. I started with only 2 itty-bitty ($2) starts, which multiplied in Happy wild abandon... to now there are 100's. And soo tasty!

    These original 2 plants, with their pretty fuscia-red Flowers (would you agree?), in just the past two years kind of grew you might say knitted together, & can bear some foot-traffic. And because you can layer more woodchips on each year as you want, any 'weeds' not wanted there, have spindly-growth easily pulled up in like 5 minutes. - Showing you this particular photo with my hand for comparison to the size of the plants when they are still developing... Notice too long stems sticking up & out... (kinda like Firecrackers exploding, lol) These are the New plants & when they can find Damp woodchips, they will eagerly Anchor... themselves to make yet more plants, to Beautify... your Front garden. I have received many compliments, & thus have helped others also learn... Have Fun!

    Our Front area is like 20+ft.deep by 80ft. long, & as well was used to show-case my 55ft. Floral rainbow.

    Edited to add photo-dimensions: 721x638

  • ArleneWoods
    ArleneWoods Posts: 13 ✭✭✭

    I was going to suggest strawberries, too. I like your Alpine ones, they are such a pretty color. I just bought a house in town that has a slight slope to the front yard. I am getting too old to mow a hill! I think I will try planting some in my own yard! Thanks for the picture.

  • ines871
    ines871 Posts: 1,283 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Hi @ArleneWoods So glad my many shared photos in this community are helping Inspire... yet others. Truly, with the wood-chips being knitted together with the Alpine strawberries will most likely be well-pleased. 🙂

  • Alison
    Alison Posts: 179 ✭✭✭

    Fastest way I've found is to cover with a thick layer of cardboard and then add a thick layer of woodchip mulch - sometimes you can get a huge amount for free from a council truck doing road work/ mulching.

    It will kill the grass quickly, look tidy immediately and all you have to do is clear a small area and plant what you want. By the roots have gone through the cardboard the grass should be dead. You may need to water the plants a little more to get established as it's best not to put holes in the cardboard if possible, otherwise the grass will just grow through. Still, a lot less to contend with if it's just the bits near the plants at worst.

    Let us know how you go.

  • pamelamackenzie
    pamelamackenzie Posts: 143 ✭✭✭
    edited August 2019

    Also check with local gardening clubs for sources of free wood chips, mulch, etc. They might also have some plants / cuttings for you. They can give you advice based on their local experience with various plants.

  • Karyn Pennington
    Karyn Pennington Posts: 71 ✭✭✭

    I vote for BTE (cardboard, compost, woodchips) this fall and next Spring it will be ready to plant. I love my everbearing strawberry ground cover in front. I just grabbed a bowl full to have at lunch today and it's late August! They're SO delicious. They do spread rather quickly -- I only let them run once per season and need to get out there to cut the second runners. Otherwise, the berries get too small (but they're still yummy!)

  • dimck421
    dimck421 Posts: 203 ✭✭✭

    I went with lasagna on part, then planted where the lasagna was and was not, hoping the area got the hint. It did! I didn't just go for ground cover though. My main interest was it was attractive and eatable. Fortunately, I live in an agricultural area and well off the road, so I had no worries about rules against food in the front yard.

  • herbantherapy
    herbantherapy Posts: 453 ✭✭✭✭

    @SYLVIA DAVIDSON I concur with the cardboard over grass then layer with your choice of mulch. I have done this many times with great success. I have also planted right on top of the mulch elfin thyme, Corsican mintand creeping thyme. The thymes and mint are walkable and release beautiful fragrance. They could be harvested but I grow the bigger varieties for that.

    If you don’t want edible ground covers and you want to walk the yard I would also suggest either Texas frog grass or blue star creeper. Both are aggressive and take hold quickly in most zones. I just dig the grass out in patches and plant the starts. Check your local extension office for a list of aggressive, noxious and invasive plant varieties though, I would never want to introduce something that works in my garden to a garden that will take it to another level on the wrong side!

  • silvertipgrizz
    silvertipgrizz Posts: 1,990 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Another potential is to start with a cover crop, then when fairly high and at stage that is best for that specific crop, push it over and black tarp it down. This should accomplish: holding moisture even as the stalks are heating under the cover. When the plot is ready, remove the tarp, and then use what ever method you are planning to plant your new bed.

    The bed I am working on will have straw placed atop the bed as soon as the tarp is removed. In the spring I will plant according to Ruth Stout by planting in the straw. I hope this works as my house is in a flood zone and the builders 'tamped down' at 1,000's lbs pressure to keep from loosing our dirt and as a result, planting in the ground is near impossible for me as it is too 'solid' for a shovel turning for me.

    I am going to experiment with cover crops in the spring by planting different ones according to their specific return. In the front I am going to plant eye catching ones such as Takan Red Buckwheat, and red clover. I am hoping that the idea will spread and people will see that they don't have to mow to have a beautiful and healthy crop instead of grass and the dreaded prospect of mowing in the Okla sweltering heat.

    I welcome all input because I am only able to plant in my containers until I master the 'hard/and clay ground'. Builders must have taken top soil with them...😕