[permaculture] transition from urban lawn to permaculture landscape

yarrow at sfo.com yarrow at sfo.com
Tue Feb 23 01:45:42 EST 2010

No, it doesn't matter if  you do it "correctly," whatever that is.

I haven't taken out ivy and mulched, but judging by how vigorous the 
ivy I have dealt with is, I wouldn't risk using it as a mulch, and 
I'd try to remove as much as possible. But before the rainy season 
ends, my top priority would be protecting the soil (with mulch). It 
won't kill the ivy, but the ivy will be easier to pull out of mulch.

  I've used a lot of mulch at the community garden, and successfully 
reduced bermuda grass and bindweed from major problems to occasional 
sprouts. My rule of thumb is that if weeds are a problem, it's a 
waste of time to mulch without cardboard or newspaper (4-5 sheets) 
underneath -- blocks light and keeps weed seeds from germinating.

If your lawn grass is bermuda (large dry patches this time of year), 
it will take more persistence to get rid of it, because it will keep 
trying to come  up.

The #1 thing to do, if you do nothing else, is mulch. The sooner you 
do this the better, because all the spring weeds are flourishing 
right now, and it's a good idea to protect your soil. The easiest way 
to start is to get a lot of newspaper or cardboard, a hose (to water 
down the paper so it won't blow away before you can get it covered), 
and a truckload of mulch (free from tree trimmers). Some people 
caution against using walnut or eucalyptus mulch, but if you aren't 
planting transplants in it right away, I don't think it makes any 

If you want to plant a food garden with transplants or seeds this 
year, I'd do the mulching asap, then get some compost and plant your 
new plants in compost pockets.

Or if you want to spend a year building your soil, keep layering 
greenwaste (mulch, coffee grounds, etc.). Organic gardeners say, 
"feed the soil, not the plants."

How much mulch? The standard is 4 inches; 2 inches minimum. Pull it 
away from the trunks/stems of shrubs and trees so that it's not 
choking them. If it's all lawn and no tree canopies (feeder roots go 
out at least 3x the canopy width), you can even pile the mulch a 
foot high, if you have enough energy to haul that much mulch around.

At 10:24 PM -0800 2/22/10, kenny swain wrote:
>Looking for some advice for the best strategy to begin transitioning 
>my conventional lawn/tree area.  I just purchased a home and it has 
>a big front lawn that I'd like to use for gardening and a privacy 
>hedge.  I am considering sheet mulching, but am confused as to which 
>method/materials to employ - I'm not sure if at the end of the day 
>it matters whether I do it correctly.  There was a significant 
>amount of ivy (English I think) which I have removed and have heard 
>mixed advice as to whether it is okay to chip/shred and use as 
>mulch.  Also, will the sheet mulch kill the ivy if I don't get rid 
>of all of the runners/roots?  I'd like to take a pc design course, 
>but work too much and can't afford to take off a week+ of work.  It 
>seems as though I can't find a happy medium in the books I've read 
>-they're either written with large scale applications in mind or are 
>too vague in instructions.  I'm pretty excited to begin, but don't 
>know where to begin.
>Thanks for any help. 

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