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Garden Gardening Sustainability

How to kill grass and weeds naturally in garden beds

When I started building my garden a few weeks ago, my neighbor came by because the truck with the compost was stuck in our yard. The compost truck was completely stuck in the middle of our property in a low-lying area that becomes so saturated we actually used it as an ice rink this past winter.

Our neighbors are in their 70’s and very sweet and kind. I think they’re the kind of people that would give you the shirt off your back if you needed it. I also think they’re set in their ways and after 70 plus years, who can blame them?

My garden beds were in place, patiently waiting to be filled with the pile of compost, when my neighbor started to review my work.

“Just use Round-up in these beds and it will kill all the grass before you put the dirt in,” she said.

How to kill grass and weeds naturally in garden beds

I smiled at her. There was no way I was going to use Round-up. While I know it is effective, I was actually shocked at how few people in Michigan seem to know about the lawsuit in California pertaining to Round-up and its connection to cancer.

This weekend we were talking about it with my in-laws and my father-in-law said something to the effect of, “Well he was a gardener and around it every day for 30 years,” when I mentioned to lawsuit. He’s also in his 70’s.

How to kill grass and weeds naturally in garden beds

How to kill grass and weeds naturally in garden beds

Something to believe in

No matter what generation you’re from, I believe the best food – the safest food – is what everyone wants.

That said, I believe there is a better way.

Whether you’re a gardener who has used a weed killer every day for 30 years, or a person who has eaten food sprayed with weed killer your entire life, I believe there is a better way to kill grass and weeds naturally.

For me, that means no Round-up, traditional weed killer or anything else that might damage the ecosystem. I want my children’s children to have clean dirt to plant in, clean air to breathe and clean water to drink and it’s been proven that all the chemicals cause long-term damage to our planet.

So instead of doing my part to hurt the Earth, my goal for this farm is to do everything we can to help it. Even if it’s just our little seven acres, it’s better than nothing.

How to kill grass and weeds naturally in garden beds How to kill grass and weeds naturally in garden beds How to kill grass and weeds naturally in garden beds

How to kill grass and weeds naturally

Instead of using weed killer, I was planning to kill grass and weeds naturally in my boxes and do it in a way that would add to the soil year-after-year.

My plan was simple: Cardboard.

If you’re planting in raised beds cardboard is a simple way to kill all the grass at the bottom without using chemical weed killers. It blocks the light and the grass dies without the light.

Step 1

First, you want to use a weed whacker to get the grass in your raised beds as short as possible. If you skip this step the cardboard will sort of float on top of the tall grass and lay funny. Besides, dead grass clippings help to nourish your soil.

How to kill grass and weeds naturally in garden beds How to kill grass and weeds naturally in garden beds

Step 2

Next you want to cut your cardboard to fit your boxes and then layer it.

Cardboard doesn’t usually come in exact squares. It usually comes in box shape and those boxes have slats so they can fit together better. Layering it allow you to make sure there’s no little spot where grass will sneak through.

Also, if your cardboard has tape or labels on it, take it off. You can find plain cardboard on Amazon here and it actually does come in squares!

You can also find boxes at various hardware stores and moving companies. If you want to try and get it for free, check with big box stores and see if they have any they’re willing to give you.

How to kill grass and weeds naturally in garden beds

How to kill grass and weeds naturally in garden beds

How to kill grass and weeds naturally in garden beds

Step 3

Third, wet it and add something heavy on top – wood, cinder blocks, mulch or even some of the dirt you will fill the boxes with to keep it from blowing away.

If you’re planning to add all your dirt right away, which is what I did since it was so late in the season before I could plant, you don’t have to add anything else on top of it.

You can then plant in your beds right away or wait a few days. Either way, the cardboard will be soft enough that if you need to dig through it to plant something with deep, stable roots you can easily break through it with a shovel.

How to kill grass and weeds naturally in garden beds

How to kill grass and weeds naturally in garden beds

How to kill grass and weeds naturally in garden beds

Giving back to the soil

Throughout the season, the rain or water from your hose will help to break down the cardboard further. The grass and weeds below it will be dead. They should not create a huge issue for you throughout the season.

Additionally, the cardboard, plus your soil, plus mulch (which I always use to top off my garden beds) will start to create a rich foundation for future gardens. It will all breakdown together and naturally add to the soil.

You can repeat the cardboard process at the end of the season each and at the start of every new season. This will help you to create a weedless garden – that you don’t have to till! – year over year.

For more on our garden, click here. To understand all the projects we’re tackling this year, click here.

How to kill grass and weeds naturally in garden beds

How to kill grass and weeds naturally in garden beds

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  1. Amber Myers

    I will keep this in mind. We do have some awful weeds that I want to get rid of, and I prefer to do it naturally. Your garden looks awesome!

  2. REna

    I love all of your container beds. I can imagine how much of a PIA that would be to weed! I love the idea of using cardboard. It’s so much healthier for the ground than plastic.

  3. Tara Pittman

    I am trying something similar in my yard this year. I am trying black plastic over the the areas.

    • Rachel Quenzer

      Just be careful with the plastic. Water might not be able to get through either and it won’t bio-degrade in the beds.

  4. Tasheena

    This post is really helpful and informative. Thank you for sharing these tips!I have to make sure to try them with my fall garden.

  5. Mama to 6 Blessings

    Thank you so much for posting this. I have been telling my husband that I want a vegetable garden but I did not know how to start. You explained everything so nicely.

    • Rachel Quenzer

      You’re welcome!

    • Surabhi

      Thank you for sharing! That was some great information

  6. Beth

    This is a fantastic way to kill grass and weeds without harming the environment or putting yourself at risk. The yard I have right now is very shady, but I’d love to have a sunny spot for a garden.

  7. Kathy

    This is a great way to kill off all those weeds. I’m glad you posted about this. I didn’t do a garden this year, but I’m sure I will next year.

  8. Amberly

    Your garden beds look so beautiful! I’ll keep this in mind for when we plant flowers in my front yard next year.

  9. Wren

    This is great! I love those beds! I am always looking for ways to eliminate my weeds!

  10. Kita Bryant

    I am so bad with plants I would probably be bad with the weed lol but this is great to know. HOpefully one day I will get my outside skills in order

  11. Ruth I

    That is genius! I had no idea there is a natural way to kill grass and weeds other than pulling it. Thank you for these tips!

  12. Catalina

    This sounds so easy to make by ourselves! I should show this to my husband!

  13. Monica Y

    I need to try this on the garden, I keep getting weeds and not able to grow healthy vegetables, thanks for the tips

  14. Melissa Dixon

    I love the idea of laying down cardboard, I have not thought about that. I used the newspaper but this makes much more sense. So cool! I will have to try it.

  15. Nadalie Bardo

    I SOOO need to do this to my yard. I am ready to create a raised bed for my plants.

  16. Tess

    I love those garden beds! I’m going to try this for our landscape too.

  17. Jennifer

    I never thought about using cardboard before. That is a great idea!

  18. Holly Davis

    Your garden and property look so beautiful! Thanks for the tips!

  19. Shannon Gurnee

    I never thought about doing this in a garden! This is a great idea! Thanks for sharing.

  20. Mama Maggie's Kitchen

    I really need these helpful tips. Grass and weeds can really ruin your garden. Thanks for sharing!

  21. Star Traci

    Great tip! I had no idea that cardboard was a solution to weeds. I am trying to live with fewer chemicals so I will definitely try this. Thanks!

  22. Krizzia Scollon

    Thanks for sharing this! I don’t know a lot about gardening and I’ve learned so much just by reading this post!

  23. Ricci

    These are great tips for killing weeds without harming the plants you are trying to grow! Thanks for this informative post!

  24. Heather

    Love this! I don’t like to use chemicals if I don’t have to, so thank you!

  25. Jazmin

    Thanks for the tips! I’m in the middle of getting my lawn ready for summer so this was super helpful!

  26. Brianne

    You are a genius! Your garden is weed-free, AND you’re making it even more hospitable for your plants. Great!

  27. Rog Willis

    I have to say that I am impressed with your garden! I’m going to start a small vegetable garden this year. Something I’ve never done! I applaud your initiative to become eco-friendly!
    Love this idea!

  28. Shayla Marie

    I used to live in the Midwest and one of the reasons we left was to get away from big ag. Round up and similar sprays are sprayed almost monthly there and so few people think anything of it. It’s really awful. I am aware of this method of getting rid of weeds in beds and it really does work! So much better and safer.

  29. Heather

    We are always looking for natural ways! We were just talking about planting a garden too!

  30. Yana

    Wow great tips and tricks. We have a raised garden bed and maybe this is something we should look into and read to you. Beautiful garden by the way:)

  31. Vicky

    WOW! So much great information on gardening and getting rid of the pesky weeds! Thanks for all of this!

  32. Milaya

    I hate using weed killer with chemicals. This is a great idea!

  33. Shayla

    We are getting ready to do our vegetable beds and so we will do this first!

  34. Catalina

    This is a great solution for those that wants to grow some vegetables. Thanks for sharing it!

  35. Lisa Joy Thompson

    This is such a smart idea! I love that you’re choosing the natural way instead of using RoundUp or other harsh chemicals! Way to go!

  36. Natalie

    Love this “natural” approach in gardening. It’s smart and beneficial to nature and humans. Thumb up!

  37. Marysa

    Roundup is such a scary thing. I can’t imagine putting it anywhere near a garden where you are growing food to eat! These are great tips for keeping weeds away naturally.

  38. Sarah

    This looks like such a great project and way to keep everything clean and growing well.

  39. Raina

    Thanks for sharing this! We are just about to start our garden and I need all the help I can get!

  40. Clair

    This is such a great idea!! The struggle with weeds is ridiculous 😩

  41. kerri

    Thank you for this!! I hate weeds.

  42. Erin

    This is great! I don’t like to use pesticides, so anything natural that works I am willing to try! Weeds are such a pain!

  43. Clarice

    Thank you for sharing this. We’re planning to start a vegetable garden and this will definitely come in handy. 🙂

  44. Danielle

    You mentioned doing this at the end of the season. How would you do this at the end of the season? Do you need to scoop all the dirt out and lay down the cardboard then put the dirt back in?

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