Revenge of the Lawn, Part II

So, more on sod removal. It’s just not easy to do. You can dig it it out with shovel and wheelbarrow.
Here’s another approach:  machinery and hired help.
This is a pretty petro-centered approach. A fair amount of expense and definitely not a small foot-print approach.
We did not want to go this way because we have very little top soil on top of a pretty poor clay soil base and the idea of removing most of the good top soil did not make sense so we looked for another way.
We went to an evening workshop at Fertile Ground a couple of months ago and an Evergreen grad Marisha Auerbach showed a pretty convincing power point slide show about her approach. Here is Marisha and her dog. More of Marisha’s ideas are available on her website, which is Herb’n Wisdom. She’s great and we are indebted to her for her ideas that we are implementing.
We started with the really tall grass in the back. The mowed lawn belongs to the neighbors who mow it several times each year and otherwise try to leave it alone. So our grass in this area is about knee-high.
One thing that is interesting to observe when you stop mowing the lawn is that the grass soon passes beyond a stage where dandelions thrive. When you mow fairly often dandelions have a pretty good chance of out-growing the lawn, flowering and going to seed, but if you let the lawn go, it soons overtakes dandelions and chokes them out. So, you don’t really need to worry about dandelions as a long term problem when you retire your lawnmower. The dandelion’s moment in the sun is relatively short-lived.
So starting with a run away lawn, here is the next step. Gather some cardboard. Lay it down right on top of the lawn. use several layers of cardboard and walk it down flat.
Marisha believes the fiber in the carboard will enhance the development of crucial soil fungus that breaks down biological material and creates topsoil. It’s also a means of recycling old cardboard and it presumably sequesters the carbon tied up in the cardboard which is converted to carbon dioxide if you burn the cardboard to get rid of it.
Once you have the cardboard layered down, you are ready for step two: lay a couple of inches of organic material on top of the cardboard. We opted for a couple inches of composted chip and bark material. It’s probably going to help mediate the clay soil base material. 
Here is Haden filling buckets with the composted material.  Pretty easy stuff to work with, nice and light.

Then dump the buckets, spread and then we are covering with more a layer of straw.  I am not sure about the straw, but Marylea has a feeling that it is going to work well, so we are trying that.

Here are a few more pictures of the lawn retirement procedure.  

Marisha says this step is now complete and you sit back and wait six months for the lawn and cardboard and organic material to do their thing.  I think there is some work that can be done in the area during the six month wait, but more on that later.