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crazy plot, crazy lawn idea...


Joined: Feb 16, 2011
Posts: 5

I am a newbie, to permaculture, to gardening....I only just moved out of the city and have accidentally found myself on a beautiful but run down former smallholding in the south of france.

Here is my first challenge...

I have a plot of land, about 25metres by 25 metres (about 30 x 30 yards). It is on a slope, running down to a river. The soil is shallow, sandy, well-drained, stony and slightly acidic.

It used to be grassland. Currently it is mostly brambles (when I arrived they were 5 foot high) and the (shadier) part by the river is bracken...two of the most pernicious weeds known to man, as far as I can tell.

I have cut both down but they both keep coming back. I would like to establish a lawn/meadowland and some raised beds.

As my land is virtually undiggable, I have had a wacky idea....

I thought of cutting the weeds down once more and laying transparent heavy duty plastic over them for june/july/august - which are broiling hot here - to solarise them.

In September, just before the rains begin, I would put down black plastic breathable mulching sheet (possibly liming the soil beforehand).

I'd plan to leave this on for at least a year - or even two.

Now for the wacky part. To protect the plastic, and to make the garden look nice in the meantime - I would like to spread compost on top of it in a thin layer and plant some sort of drought tolerant grass.

Is it at all feasible that in one or two years' time I could simply cut and roll up my new turf, remove the plastic sheeting and lay the turf back directly on the cleaned soil?

Also, could I drop the transparent plastic step and begin right away with the black plastic sheeting?

Thanks in advance,  I would be SO grateful for all your ideas and advice...

Al Loria

Joined: Apr 21, 2010
Posts: 395
Location: New York
This might be another wacky idea, but how about burning it and leaving the ash to lower the pH as the rain moves it into the soil?  I would do a series of small controlled burns with a trench cut or fire break around the site.  Also, keep a hose handy.

Joined: Feb 16, 2011
Posts: 5
that sounds like a good idea. would you cover the ash with plastic mulch sheeting afterwards? the locals here all say that brambles come back if you just burn them
Al Loria

Joined: Apr 21, 2010
Posts: 395
Location: New York
Don't know about the plastic, but black plastic or fabric would keep out the light.  Fabric would allow water to pass through, whereas plastic would not.  If runoff is a problem I would think the fabric would be better.  Have you asked the locals how they kill off the brambles?  Hopefully, not with chemicals.
Al Loria

Joined: Apr 21, 2010
Posts: 395
Location: New York
One other solution might be to till the area up after the burn and let the sun bake the roots.  The approximate quarter acre should not be the worst to till with the proper equipment.  Not exactly permaculture, but a possible solution, nonetheless.

Joined: Feb 16, 2011
Posts: 5
Thanks for these ideas. Burning and then black fabric may be the deal...
The locals generally go for round up, which I'm obviously not prepared to do. Otherwise, one would have to dig them out by the root - but as my land is stony and on a slope, this is very hard...
I'm told not to bother with cardboard etc - they just chew it up and spit it out. And cutting them only makes them more vigorous.
Brice Moss

Joined: Jul 28, 2010
Posts: 700
Location: rainier OR
could you run pigs in bramble infested area for a season, pigs eat the roots of lots of tough to remove plants and are tasty

Joined: Feb 16, 2011
Posts: 5
Thanks for the idea about pigs. It wouldn't work for the spot I mentioned, because it's too close to buildings and I've already planted a couple of things - but I do have a few other places where that would be a GREAT idea!

Joined: Apr 05, 2010
Posts: 10
Location: St. Paul, MN (Zone 4)
I don't think I'd recommend leaving plastic or fabric on for more than a season because the beneficial bacteria in the soil will die out, making it difficult to grow anything desirable there afterwards.
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