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I bought my house about two years ago, and some of the flower beds that the original owner had put in the garden are now completely overgrown with weeds. I would like to remove the weeds and the flower beds entirely, and replace them with grass.

What's the best/most logical order of operations? Should I dig out the weeds and plant grass seed? What other steps would be required? Should I go with sod to prevent the weeds from growing back over the grass? If I use weed killer (like Roundup), will that prevent the grass from growing in the future?

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You could cover the area with a black plastic tarp to kill the weeds first. See this question. –  Doresoom May 20 '11 at 17:47
    
how large is the area you want to recover? –  shirlock homes May 21 '11 at 11:06
    
I'm temporarily reopening this so it can be considered for a mass migration to Gardening. –  BMitch Nov 9 '12 at 18:27
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I had a similar issue in my back yard (the whole thing). It was just weeds. I killed all the weeds with a dose or two of Roundup and had the entire 7000+ sqft tilled up. I then raked it flat and seeded most of it. It now has less weeds than my front lawn which received sod prior to moving in. This was new construction, and the sod was part of the package.

If I had to do just a flowerbed, or the whole yard again, I'd vote for doing it the same way again.

Just be sure to wait a week or two after applying the Roundup so it works it's magic and the weeds are dried up completely. This also aids in tilling it, by hand or machine. The Roundup should not last long on barren soil and will not affect the seed after a couple of weeks.

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I was in a similar situation where when we moved into our home we inherited a number of planters around the yard (~1 acre). With two small children, I wanted to simplify - remove everything and plant grass. I went in with a shovel and hoe and removed as much as I could by hand - bushes, large clumps of grass, etc. Then, I put roundup down to kill anything that was left (usually weeds). It is usually rain safe within a couple of hours - unless you use a spreader sticker of some kind - then it is pretty much right away.

Depending on your location, I wouldn't plant until fall though. Summer is coming, and it will probably not tolerate the heat until it is fully established. Have your prep done by mid August and then plant the first week in September - then keep it moist. Studies show that the seeds will germinate MUCH more quickly when planted in early September versus even late September/October. Put the seed down, til it in a bit, put a straw (or similar) type covering over it - oh, and don't forget to use a good nitrogen rich starter fertilizer and water like crazy. It will be thick and green next spring.

Good luck!

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Last fall, I got tired of our ivy bed. (Regular ivy, virginia creeper, some other stuff. Thankfully, no poison ivy.) It was constantly overrunning, taking over the bush next to it, running up the wall of our house. My solution was to:

  1. Run the mower deck from the tractor over it once. This just to cut down some of the volume, and disentangle the vines.

  2. Pull the longest vines out as I could.

  3. Attack! With a pitchfork, turn over the entire area, down to a foot deep. This was sufficient to pull out almost all of the roots. As the soil is turned over, it is now easy to pull the roots so no ivy grows back.

  4. Once turned over, amend the soil with some compost. (Might as well improve it as long as I had done the hard work.)

  5. Plant seed, and keep it watered until nature takes over.

All of this took some serious work, but was worth the effort. The ground in that area is still too soft to do more than walk on it softly, but no more ivy climbing the walls of our house. Some time later, there is no ivy remaining, and it has firmed up enough to be able to mow it. While I liked the ivy, it was too close to the house, constantly attacking the wall near it.

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