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Rotovating a new plot


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  • Rotovating a new plot

    The plot next to mine is currently not used and is covered in grass. I'm considering asking to take it on. It's mostly covered in short grass as they have mowed it down

    I know you mustnt rotovate perennial weeds but looks to be just grass. If I can borrow a rotovate would it be OK to do this?

    Would then obviously start working through it before I can plant anything

  • #2
    If it's not too much work then I'd be inclined to take the turfs off and stack them to one side (grass side down in a heap) to rot down before tackling the soil beneath, either with a Rotavator or a spade.


    • #3
      Couch grass looks like "just grass" too but chopping up the roots with a rotavator is not a good idea!
      Digg a spadeful up and see how stringy the roots after before rotovating.


      • #4
        Using a Rotavator on 'just grass' is NOT a good idea, definitely not.

        You need to dig it I'm sorry to say else you will be in a whole lot of pain further down the line when you chop up the roots of the Twitch grass, Dandelions and Docks and make it worse.

        Do this:

        Step 1: Dig the first row out and place the sods of earth at the other end of the plot for later leaving a row that's a trench.

        Step 2: Dig each row cutting each spade full and just turning it so the surface is buried at he bottom into the first trench, leaving magically another trench.

        Step 3: Do the same for the next row, taking out any obvious perennial weed roots like Docks or Dandelions.

        Step 4: Continue down the plot, the covered annual weeds will die making fertilizer for what you want to grow. Within 2 weeks you can start to fork and plant if no twitch grass is apparent the use a rotavator.

        Step 5: Later harvesting and forking will help remove any more perennials.
        The day that Microsoft makes something that doesn't suck ...

        ... is the day they make vacuum cleaners


        • #5
          We have dealt with the similar situations. Our current garden was 1.5 m deep with brambles over montbretia, which is invasive around here. We had a contractor in to blitz it. It's hard to imagine what a big agricultural tractor can do if you haven't seen it. We followed up with 3 years of potatoes, which is very cleaning crop. Easy compared with couch grass.

          We have also had couch grass on other previous gardens. The advice above will all work given time but, and this will be controversial, if I had to do it again I would use glyphosate. I don't advocate its use routinely but there are situations where it is called for and a bad infestation of couch grass is one of them.
          Last edited by quanglewangle; 21-04-2020, 12:20 PM.
          I live in a part of the UK with very mild winters. Please take this into account before thinking "if he is sowing those now...."


          • #6
            I took on a plot in December 2019 on a heavy clay soil.
            The previous plot holder had been putting lawn greening fluid on couch grass and mowing it.
            I am at the moment gathering and sizing the photos for my own thread.
            I have a preview.
            Attached Files
            Near Worksop on heavy clay soil


            • #7
              Originally posted by nickdub View Post
              If it's not too much work then I'd be inclined to take the turfs off and stack them to one side (grass side down in a heap) to rot down before tackling the soil beneath, either with a Rotavator or a spade.
              I second this. On a day after it rains and the soil isn't baked cut around and rip the turf off.

              Another option is to get heavy duty plastic to cover the grass or the entire summer or beyond. The light starvation and heat should kill off the green tops and at the very least weaken it a bit to get out.

              I don't recommend rotovation of established grass. Good luck.


              • #8
                I don't think it's a good idea. Slice it off/or dig pockets plant in squash/Courgettes and cover the area with card.

                I think you may even have an issue trying to get a rotavator through grass and it will just carry on growing.


                • #9
                  Weedkiller, wait a fortnight, weedkiller the new growth, wait a fortnight. If no significant growth then rotavate and cover with cardboard. Plant through the cardboard.

                  Just my opinion....


                  • #10
                    The no dig way, which was very successful for me last year, lay out the thickest cardboard you can get hold of, top it with two or three inches of compost/manure and plant straight into it. It's amazing how well it works.


                    • #11
                      another no-digger here.

                      I would cover it in plastic for one year (with a layer of woodchip on the top to weigh it down, keep it darker and limit UV degradation), then see what you get from there.

                      My next step would be cardboard and compost on the bits you want to grow on, and reuse the plastic on the paths (ideally with fresh woodchip). The 1yr old woodchip can then go in your compost heap.

                      No-dig really seems to work best for me if you go "full Charles" (Dowding) - ie cardboard and a good thick (6" +) of compost.


                      • #12
                        I'm another no did advocate.

                        If you are prepared to double dig and fork out the perenials, you will have a clean(ish) plot to plant up, but only when you've done all that work.
                        If you cover in cardboard/compost/mulch you can plant straight away and deal with the very few escaping perenials easily if/when they emerge. At the very least nature will be taking care of your problem even if you do nothing this season.

                        I do own a mini tractor rotavator and a walk behind, but the only way to clean ground with one is to repeatedly rotavate about every two weeks over an extended period. The continued disturbence will weaken and eventually kill just about anything, but the time and effort is still considerable and the dug depth is limited to whatever machine you have and the amount of effort you are prepared to put in. It is possible to get to about 200mm depth after a pass or two, but the forward speed is very very slow and your arms will feel like you've been boxing all day.
                        Last edited by ESBkevin; 24-06-2020, 08:07 AM.


                        • #13
                          No dig is the way to go.


                          • #14
                            I took on an overgrown plot in April, which is possibly the worst time of year to do so. I strimmer, forked over and rotavated a chunk of it just to get stuff growing. The weeds have been a nightmare.

                            I've been digging over the rest of the plot and removing perennial weeds as I go and it's so much better.

                            If you just want to avoid weeds blowing seed around, just strim it periodically. If you want to use the space, and aren't in a hurry to get stuff growing, I'd suggest you take the time to clear it properly first.


                            • #15
                              No dig.

                              I've spent 5 years battling the grass. It's not worth it. One bed last year as an experiment converted me for life!

                              Double layer of card, compost, jobs a goodun!


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