Since the removal of the two large trees in our front parking strip, the front yard now receives full sun for around 8 – 9 hours. Before this, we only had a small strip in the backyard that received full sun for about half the day, which is where we placed two small raised beds. The yield has been small because we only had room in the beds for a few plants at a time.

With the new fence separating the front yard from the sidewalk and the full sun, we decided to move all food production to the front yard. We don’t plan to plant directly in the ground (except for maybe a raspberry bush), our goal is to build a series of raised beds with pathways meandering throughout. We want a manicured look, an intentional and designed urban farm.

The first step is to smother the grass in order to have a blank canvas for the landscaping. In all the tutorials I’ve read, the easiest way to do it is lay down a thick layer of newspaper, cover it with compost and maybe mulch, keep it wet and leave it for 3 – 6 months. The newspaper decomposes and the grass is deprived of air and light. The only trouble with that plan is the newspaper, we don’t subscribe to any newspapers and I don’t know anyone that does. We could go around to all the free newspaper and ‘zine stands and take them all but that’s silly. So we bought the huge rolls of construction paper from Lowe’s, it thicker so you don’t have to have so many layers and it’s only $8 a roll. Even IKEA has rolls of paper you can use. It’s important that the paper isn’t coated, treated or waxed, for instance butcher paper wouldn’t really be the best choice.

Here’s the before shot:

We rolled out the construction paper 4 layers thick, wet it down, then spread a mixture of compost and pine mulch we’ve been amassing from our pine tree. Here’s the after shot:

Bye bye grass.