Home » Home » Ways to Convert Lawn Into Gardening Space

Ways to Convert Lawn Into Gardening Space

Whether you want to plant flowers or vegetables, there are several different ways to convert lawn into gardening space. Today I’m going to share with you the ones I’ve used. What works and what doesn’t, and tips for creating your new garden bed.

Before you even begin to start the process of converting lawn into gardening space, you need to choose a location for your new garden bed. Unless, you’re just going to grow shade plants, it’s important to find the sunniest place in your yard and plan your new garden bed there. If you want to grow vegetables, flowers or a mix, you’ll have the best harvest if your new garden gets full sun. Full sun means more than 6 hours of direct sunlight a day.

This post contains affiliate links. If you click on
one of the links and make a purchase,

I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.
See full disclosure here.

How to Remove Grass for a Garden Bed

First, there’s the age old method of simply digging. I’ve done it and it’s hard manual labor. I recommend digging if you want your garden space simply cut into the ground. Here’s what you do:

Use a garden hose or a rope and lay it out in the shape of your new garden bed. 

Then, simply start digging up the sod. Some will tell you to just turn the sod over, but I don’t recommend doing that. The sod doesn’t usually die just from being turned over. If you do it right, you won’t have to contend with weeds and grass growing back up in your new garden bed. I dig up the sod (you can rent professional sod cutters), but I really love my trusty shovel. It’s lightweight and sharp. If you have lots of sod to remove, you might want to consider a sod cutter knife like this one. I’ve started many, many garden beds simply by digging.

Man digging a new garden bed.

Once you have all the sod cut up, it will need to be removed. Pick up the sod and shake the excess soil off of it and then dispose of the sod or replant it in another area of your yard.

If you aren’t going to plant your new area right away, be sure to cover it with plastic or cardboard, so it doesn’t become a weed pit before you get to plant.

If you decide to dig up your lawn to make a new garden space, be sure to use some type of edging so that you don’t have grass creeping back into your garden area.

It’s also a good idea to amend the existing soil by mixing in compost. Check with the county you live in to see if they have a free compost site. If not, bags of compost can be purchased at most big box stores very reasonably.

Raised Bed Gardening (Without Removing Grass)

Raised garden beds are perfect for growing vegetables, planting an herb garden, growing flowers or really any kind of gardening. Here’s how you convert your lawn into a raised bed garden. First of all, if you are new to gardening and you’re not even sure if you’re going to enjoy it and want to do it again, perhaps you might want to consider a raised bed garden. 

If you simply want to plant some vegetables for your family, I would recommend starting with a simple raised bed. This one is very appealing to me and if I were starting over with my raised vegetable beds, I would go with this. Although the thought of building your own raised garden beds is novel, for the time and money, these vinyl beds are easy to assemble and will last a very long time. It’s important to note here that you want an least a depth of at least 8 inches with a raised bed.

To convert lawn into a raised bed gardening space, I recommend using landscaping fabric to place over the ground where your raised bed will sit. A layer of landscape fabric or cardboard will smother grass and weeds, and eliminate rogue weeds or grass from growing up through the soil.

My Sister’s Raised Garden Bed in South Carolina

Raised Garden Bed

Once you have your raised bed in place, fill it to the top with a good garden soil and/or compost. One of my pet peeves is to see someone gardening with raised beds with only a few inches of soil in them. That kind of defeats the purpose of a raised bed. It’s a good idea to let your newly filled garden bed sit for a few days, so the soil can settle.

We have raised beds for our vegetable garden area. We just threw something together quickly and the beds are very crude looking, but they serve the purpose. Some day we will replace them, probably with the vinyl ones I mention above.

Building Your Own Raised Garden Beds

  • If you decide you still want to build your own raised garden beds, here are a few tips to remember:
  • Make your raised garden beds at least 8 inches deep. If your raised beds are too shallow, plants will become crowded and won’t have the soil depth to mature and produce.
  • Cedar is the best wood for raised garden beds. You can get cheaper wood like pine, but it won’t hold up like cedar will. 
  • To keep your garden bed sturdy and to finish off the corners, use garden bed corner brackets. For deeper garden beds, these corner brackets are a very good choice.
  • To learn more about building your own raised beds, check out Erin’s post at Impatient Gardener. Her raised bed garden is gorgeous!

Use the Lasagna Method to Convert Lawn to Gardening Space

I have used the lasagna method many times to convert lawn to gardening space. It’s not the fastest method, but it’s probably the easiest if you’re not in a hurry. The lasagna method consists of layering cardboard with grass clippings and shredded leaves over any grassy area that you want to kill. The idea is the cardboard, leaves and grass clippings smoother the existing lawn, and then break down to fortify the soil. The lasagna method is also sometimes referred to as sheet mulching.

It takes several weeks for this method to sufficiently kill off grass and weeds and sometimes you will still have weeds popping through to contend with. I think the lasagna method works best when started in the fall and left over the winter. Then in the spring your area is ready for planting. 

Lasagna Method for killing grass and weeds

Planning and Planting Your New Garden Bed

Now that you have transformed your lawn into garden space, you’re ready for planning and planting your new vegetable garden or flower garden. If you’re new to gardening, or if you’ve only been gardening a few years, you’ll want to check out these posts – Vegetable Gardening 101 and Flower Gardening 101

Thanks so much for stopping by Gingham Gardens today. I appreciate your visit! Do you have questions about converting your lawn to garden space, or any other gardening question, feel free to leave a comment below.

Happy gardening,
Joanna

p.s. Follow Gingham Gardens on Pinterest for lots of great gardening ideas and tons of gardener’s eye candy. Gingham Gardens is also on Facebook – come say “hi.”

Pins for your Gardening Board on Pinterest:

Image of a Gardener Digging with a Shovel with text overlay - Convert Lawn to Gardening Space

 

Image of a Gardener Digging with a Shovel with text overlay - Convert Lawn to Gardening Space

16 Comments

    1. Hi Debbie – thanks for stopping by Gingham Gardens. It really depends how much weeds and grass you have, or where you are in the process of converting lawn to garden. If there’s a lot of weeds and grass, I would have the area plowed or tilled, especially if you’re planting a vegetable garden. If you’re planting a flower garden, you can plant and then place cardboard or newspapers around the plant to keep weeds down and then mulch on top of it. I hope this is helpful. Good luck and happy gardening, Joanna

  1. I am turning a shady corner space into a perennial garden, mostly hostas and bleeding hearts. Would it work to dig out the grass, amend the soil with manure and peat moss, cover with landscape fabric and then cut out holes to transplant my perennials into? I would then cover the empty space of landscape fabric with mulch, river stones, or something appealing.

  2. I sometimes find gardening information is written in a complex, hard to follow language. Thank you for an easy to read article about something that should be enjoyed.

    1. Hi Nyck – that’s because I’m a real gardener and not a writer that knows nothing about gardening. Thanks for stopping by Gingham Gardens. Come back soon! Joanna

  3. I have wanted to plant an asparagus patch and was kind of overwhelmed with how to begin…but after reading your blog about
    how to convert lawn into gardening space I’m excited to say I have direction now! When I start with this “step 1” is there anything else in the fall I should do?

  4. Hello,
    Is it ok to use grass and weed killer & then dig the are up? Will this also work to enlarge an existing flower garden?

    1. Hi Kerry, thanks for stopping by Gingham Gardens. It really isn’t necessary to use grass and weed killer with any of the methods listed in this post. I like to avoid using harmful chemicals whenever possible. Good luck, Joanna

    1. Hi Susan – yes, you can use peanut shells around trees and flowers. However, make sure they are not salted, because the salt will leach into the soil.
      Happy gardening, Joanna

  5. I followed the directions of wintering over my lipstick pink geraniums. Overlooked my spring directions and wondered if you could re send them to me.
    Thus far, I have brought them to warmer temperature, from cold cellar and spritz with fertilized water daily. Some roots were white with life. Now transplanted them in flower box with loose soil and watered heavily and setting to get sunshine. Mistakes yet?

    1. The only thing you are missing is to trim them up a bit and to give them some fertilizer. Yours will probably be fine as is, but the haircut will keep them from being all gangly and the fertilizer will get the flowers going. Good luck and happy gardening, Joanna

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.