There are few things more wasteful and useless than a grass lawn in Southern California. Maintaining turf in a desert requires tons of time, water, and money. And after all that work, you can't even eat it (unless you're a ruminant).
So eff that, we say.
The plan: Take out the lawn and replace it with xeriscaping and garden beds to grow veggies. We've never done anything like this before, but hey, that's why this is exciting.
After researching the many ways to kill grass, we decided to go non-chemical and low-cost (but also labor intensive and slowww): sheet mulching. Cardboard and mulch for the win!
STEP 1: Dig out the perimeter of the yard. If you have sprinklers, stake the heads so you can find them later. (Note: You're also supposed to mow the grass as short as possible before sheet mulching, but we don't have a lawn mower so... we just skipped that part.)
STEP 2: Cover the grass with a crapload of cardboard. Seriously. A lot of cardboard. We dumpster dived behind strip malls. We asked (multiple times) CVS, Kmart, Office Depot, Super A, and the local bike shop. The cardboard acquisition process took weeks. It was astounding how much cardboard we needed. Over 100 boxes, easily. WHY IS OUR LAWN SO BIG.
STEP 3: Cover the cardboard with a crapload of mulch. Like with the cardboard, we were surprised by just how much mulch we needed. We utilized free city mulch giveaways and borrowed my cousin's pick-up truck. We shoveled mulch for hours, over 3 different days. In total, it must have been about 8 truckloads of mulch. According to the interwebs, you should cover the cardboard with 5-8 inches of mulch. Ours ended up more like 3 inches. Good enough.
Note: Despite the fact that Chris is featured in all the above photos, let it be known that I was also sweating and working! I'm just the more diligent photographer. (Although he is admittedly much stronger than me and probably moved twice as much mulch as I did.)
STEP 4: Wet everything down. Hose down the mulch once every 2-3 weeks (or hope that it rains). Even in the hot and dry SoCal climate, mulch is amazingly good at holding in moisture.
STEP 5: Wait 2 months (or maybe more?). With cardboard blocking out sunlight, the grass will slowly starve to death. Little microbes, buggies, and worms will go to work under the mulch, devouring the dead grass and the cardboard. Allegedly, in a couple months, we'll be able to stab a shovel into the mulch and find underneath healthy, rich soil. Magic!
Approximately $50 and 60-70 work hours later, this is now what the front yard looks like.
To get from the top photo to this photo took us around 4 weeks. Will it work? We'll have to wait and see. On the up side, we now have a bit of time to design and plan for our new yard.
In the meantime, I am stoked that we don't have to look at the damn lawn anymore. Die, grass, die!