If you are creating a new bed this year take special care about getting grass out of the bed. I have found over many years that tilling a garden spot has a great short term advantage, I can plant immediately and it doesn’t seem like a lot of work. But the disadvantage is that I have always had to fight grass in the garden for years afterwards.
There are a few ways to prepare a garden bed so you don’t have to fight that fight with grass. The first, and easiest, is to plan your landscape in the fall and put down lots of newspaper or cardboard covered with leaves and then wood chips. That will kill the grass over the fall and winter and leave you with a nice planting bed in the spring. If, like me, you did not plan that far ahead, or you have moved into a new house over the winter, then you must figure out a way to create a bed by removing the grass.
My choice is not to try to dig out the grass but to use a Weasel Claw Pro. I have found this tool to be highly effective and easy on my back. I just push it into the soil, twist it clockwise, and the tool brings up a nice clump of grass and roots. I can then use my hand claw and knock the soil off the clod back into the ground and put the grass root mass in my wheelbarrow headed for the compost bin. Admittedly this is more labor intensive than fall planning, but much less labor intensive, not to mention less frustrating, than lots of tiny grass roots sprouting all over the garden bed all season long.
A clump of grass has an amazing root mass and if they are tilled they all become little plants. If we plan a bit in the fall and smother the grass this root mass becomes great organic matter in the soil.
Because I am taking this much organic matter away from my planting spot I will have to add a lot of mulch to compensate. But not a bad compromise, in my opinion, for less grass seedlings all year long.
Perennial seedlings coming up through last year’s mulch (a mixture of leaves and compost). All year the prior year I had layered leaves and well rotted compost under my plants. It both kept the weeds from sprouting and enriched the soil.
That little yellow speck of a strawberry seedling will be just as robust and healthy by next spring as these plants because I am going to layer leaves and compost around it and the many other strawberry plants that I have planted.
In the end this is definitely a lazy way to garden. No lugging around a big rototiller, no noise or air pollution from fossil fuels, and I can work at my own speed. My only deadline on this method is how soon do I have to plant something. Be creative about this method, if you don’t have time to shake the dirt off the grass just set them aside and plant. As your plants gain height you can keep adding topsoil off the grass root mass. Have fun with it. Happy planting!!