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Composting grass with the roots attached???

Bozeman, MT

I just dug up part of my grass to make a raised vegie bed.

Now I only have the rest of my yard to go... Sigh.

Anyway, that's not the point.

The point is that now I have an entire pile of strips of sod that I pulled up. What to do with them?? Can I put them in a compost pile?

I have only recently started composting and I don't know if I will achieve a "hot" pile. I'm worried that if I put grass with the roots and all into the pile, then I'll have grass growing from all of my garden beds later on.

But, just sending this entire heap of grass and soil to a landfill doesn't feel right.

Could I burn it??

Any ideas?

Oh, and one other thing: for future reference, is it necessary to dig up the grass? Is it possible to just lay down some cardboard and then build the raised bed so deep that the grass never comes up through it? Or is that a pipe dream? If that is possible, then how many inches deep does the raised bed have to be to defeat the grass?

It may be six of one and half dozen of the other. Because it's not exactly easy wheelbarrowing all of that soil mixture into the raised bed to fill it anyway. So it may not be any less labor than just digging out the grass...

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Some one else can handle the second part. The sod strips. I would stack/ pile up by them selves and the inside grass will rot. After a cople months, pull off the live gras and dig up the dirt from inside should be nice., though may have dormant weed seeds. Except if you have weedy rhizomey grass like zoysia...that could come back to haunt you. I usually find some out of the way place for grass clumps and sod.

North Ridgeville, OH(Zone 5b)

Best trick for composting sod: put it in the pile upside down. It won't be able to grow upward before it rots.

North Ridgeville, OH(Zone 5b)

I just built a raised bed on top of my lawn last autumn. I used old shipping boxes, cut apart and laid flat, as my first layer. I soaked 'em with my garden hose to keep 'em from blowing away as I worked.

My next layer was about a foot of dry shredded office paper (I had a lot of it left over from two family businesses that shred *everything*). I soaked that layer too, and it smooshed down to about 4" thick. The cardboard would've been enough to kill the grass, but I had all that paper & nowhere to put it, so I added it.

Next came the bulk topsoil & bulk finished compost, mixed roughly 50/50.

On top of that I dumped about 5 gallons of spent coffee grounds to bring in the worms.

The final step was a light dusting of white clover seeds to form a cover crop. It'll hold the soil in place & will also fix nitrogen from the air in its roots.

In a week or two, I'll turn the clover under to make a nice fluffy seed bed.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

If you have the type of grass that grows from underground runners, such as Burmuda grass, put it out for the trash collector. If you don't it will keep on growing no matter what you do. Been there done that!

North Ridgeville, OH(Zone 5b)

Boiling water kills anything.

Bozeman, MT

Thank you for all of the advice so far.

I have no idea what kind of grass I have, but I do know that it sends runners everywhere. That's just one of the many reasons I hate it.

I took sallyg's advice and piled it all up in my back yard for now.

I was thinking that I was going to buy some sort of black plastic material and cover it and let it sit like there through our hot, dry summer. Then, this time next year, take the plastic off and see what's under there and maybe make it into a raised bed.

Let's assume it's a very invasive species of grass. Will sitting under black plastic for a year kill it?

I can do the boiling water thing that puddlepirate suggested, though I have quite a heap to kill so it seems like that will take a very, very long time.

I was also thinking I could spray it down with roundup and then wait a year. I'm going to google it now and see how long it takes roundup to dissipate. Does anyone have any thoughts on that?

Bozeman, MT

Ha! Just googled the roundup thing and realized the can of worms that is. (And not the good, vermicompost-y kind of worms either, apparently).

The information on the 'net seems to range from: you can plant vegetables in the soil immediately after killing everything with roundup to spraying roundup is akin to raping the earth.

The truth, as with most things, probably lies somewhere in the middle, but in any case I probably won't be trying that route. I'll probably do a combination of the boiling water and black plastic and just see what's under there next spring.

But I'm still open to any advice or thoughts anyone has. Thanks again.

Bozeman, MT

Ok - a little more googling and I've developed my plan of attack.

I'm gonna cover my pile with black plastic. This summer, when it is hot as hades, I'm going to uncover the pile several different times and either pour boiling water on it or spray it with vinegar.

Then next spring, I'm going to work in some compost, pine bark, etc., and make it into a raised bed.

Then, in about a year and a half from now, I'll come back here and tell you whether the grass has returned and is driving me mad. :-)

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

You're one of the rarest- who actually does a little research on your own question and comes back to help us!
I agree covering it with thick plastic should cook it/ smother it/ starve it to death over the summer. If it blocks the light you're good to go. (I tried a trash bag and found out they are too thin)

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

seran72 - covering the grass you have will not kill it. Putting it in a pile will not kill it.

We tried putting it in a sealed container for several months, and it actuallyu grew in the dark!

Save yourself lots of time and trouble, and throw it out! Been there done that, took three years to figure out that we should have thrown it out to begin with.

Bozeman, MT

Honeybee, I'm taking what you say to heart. It's not the answer I want to hear, but I might either just get rid of it, or else use it to berm up an area where I don't mind having some grass.

Lumberton, TX(Zone 8b)

It will depend on the type of grass. I have done everything anyone ever recommended to this [email protected]*$# san augustine and... here it comes again. Ruefully, I would suggest that if it has runners, listen to Honeybee.


Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

brigidlily - I battled St. Augustine grass in my front yard for ten years when I lived in South Florida.

I was determined that I would win the battle agains Burmuda when I moved here.

Grass that grows with runners cannot be turned under and be expected to die, which is the mistake I made with St. Augustine. You have to get out every single piece of white root.

Yesterday and this morning, I dug up a few patches of Burmuda. No doubt from small roots that were missed last year. Thankfully, these small patches were easy to be rid of - in the trash they went!

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

This is just theory:

If you already have a yardfull of this runnering grass, don't throw away sod with soil in it. Use it to build up low spots. If you don't have any low spots, use it to create high spots, so you have some slope to aid drainage.

I figure that "even more of the same weed" is no worse than "already have lots of it".

You might take some close-up photos of different stages and parts, and post them to these two forums, to get an identification. You never know, they MIGHT have some Achilles heel.


Bozeman, MT


I have been meaning to do just that, and your post prompted me to finally get it done. I'll post a couple pics here in case anyone here can tell what it is. It was laid from sod if that makes any difference.

Right now I have it mounded into two lovely hills that I would love to eventually plant squash into. So if this grass is easy to kill, I'd sure be happy to here it.

Thumbnail by seran72
Bozeman, MT

One more.

Thumbnail by seran72
Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

Nice hill or berm! I still like your idea to solarize it with black plastic. Can't hurt, and you might get lucky. You might recover some of the soil if any of the roots die.

If squash can't compete with it now, you might try a mix of cover crops for one year, and see if one is agressive enough to compete with it. Maybe something like radishes (oilseed or daikon) to drill into the sod.

Good luck.


Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

I've not tried a cover crop to compete with grass, but I have noticed that sweet potatoes are able to do so.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

(Honeybee glad you commented I was thinking about trying that)

Bozeman, MT

Oh, Honeybee! I would LOVE to grow sweet potatoes! I hadn't even thought of that. I have some Norlands and some Yukon Golds growing but I hadn't thought of sweet potatoes. We have such a short growing season, but I read online and found one or two short season varieties.

Corey, thank you. I have become so attached to my two little hill/berms. :-) Last year, I had to take down my bird feeders because my cat was turning my back yard into a killing zone. I didn't want to put a bell on her, because she keeps the mice at bay. A few weeks ago, I put my bird feeders back up on top of my little hill/berms and some how the cat can't sneak up on them up there. I've decided to do my best to kill the grass with hot water and vinegar, pile on some soil mix and plant the radishes you suggest. If the grass comes back, I cross that bridge when it comes.

My dad was over a few nights ago, checking out my raised beds, potatoe towers and hill/berms. He shook his head and said, "You had a perfectly nice lawn and now you're doing everything in your power to Eff. It Up." :-)

Grass. Totally overrated.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

>> Grass. Totally overrated.

I agree! (Except for that opne variety of grass favored by Hippies.)

>> I've decided to do my best to kill the grass with hot water and vinegar, pile on some soil mix and plant the radishes you suggest. If the grass comes back, I cross that bridge when it comes.

That sounds like a plan. At the very least, you'll salvage some soil, and I would expect some of the roots to die and enrich the soil. I think radishes are a sure thing, in that they are bound to grow. I didn't know sweet potatoes were so aggressive, but I hope that works too!

If you need radish seed, I just ordered a big pkt of "Daikon Minowase" seed, so let me know if you would like some.

Pure white, 16" x 3" root,
smooth, uniform, crispy, juicy flesh,
low pungency, sow summer or fall
6-12" tall. 6-9" spacing.
keep consistently moist.

>> Last year, I had to take down my bird feeders because my cat was turning my back yard into a killing zone.

I wish I knew where to find a certain book, becuase it had many strategies for making a cat-infested yard friendly to bird feeders. I know where that book is: in one of those 150 boxes!

I recall the suggestion about arranging some perches around a feeder - up off the ground so that birds can sit up there and watch for cats. Bushes, shrubs, whatever a bird can perch on but a cat can't climb.

Remove any cover that a cat could hide in, around the feeders.

Lay down some tangled branches and brush, flat on the gorund around the feeder - not enough for a cat to hide in, but enough to slow down a charging cat.

Or lay down chicken wire or other wire on the ground around the feeder, so cats can't run fast through it. (But how do the birds know that makes them safe?)


Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

I hate grass!

Bozeman, MT

Amen, sister. :-)

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