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Turf mound

I’ve recently taken off a bit of lawn to increase my border. Can I take those turf pieces and put them into an old bin until they turn into useable soil? I don’t want to put the mound directly  on the ground because it looks unsightly. Will it still break down in the bin? What about couch grass roots, will they break down and die this way?


  • nick615nick615 Posts: 1,373
    One use for them is to lay them 'green side down' to form an enclosure, in which to grow marrows.  I did it to advantage once.  Most of the grass/weeds disappeared and we had a good crop of marrows, presumably aided by the warmth of decomposing turf?
  • NollieNollie Posts: 7,067
    Couch grass is extremely difficult to kill, I find. It will regrow from pieces of root. If you can cover the bin to exclude light and leave it for a couple of years that might do it. I would be wary about using the resulting compost to grow anything.

    Be interested to hear if anyone has any successful ways to break it down permanently.
    Mountainous Northern Catalunya, Spain. Hot summers, cold winters.
  • floraliesfloralies Posts: 2,325
    I tried a turf mound and now i have a new grass mound, didn't work at all.
  • WoodgreenWoodgreen Posts: 1,273
    Not quite the same thing, but some years ago I started to bag up rough weeds ( not wanting them in the compost bin) and also odd turves. The grass here is not lawn, but composed of all sorts.

    I used old compost and bark chippings  bags, tied them up and left them under cover for at least four years, some as long as six years. I have recently emptied them and sieved the contents. Nothing was still growing, but some things, like big clumps of woodrush, hadn't broken down so I discarded that. The resulting compost is excellent but I'm only using it on grass in case there are long-lived seeds of weeds I wouldn't want in borders 

    I think the turf will make a good product if left long enough and sealed to prevent drying out, if you have space to store it.
  • IlikeplantsIlikeplants Posts: 894
    4 years is a long time. I thought it breaks down in a year. I’m hoping so. These clods are heavy to move and unsightly so have been in a builders bag for a while now.
     @floralies I was scared of getting a new grass mound too, that already happened when I stuck them upside down in the border expecting it to break down. 
    That’s interesting @nick615, sounds tempting but again I’m afraid of growing couch grass in the veg patch. 
    Monty Don mentioned having couch grass in his borders. I think it’s common and will be mostly about controlling it, especially if you have it in your lawn.
  • NollieNollie Posts: 7,067
    Same here @Woodgreen, my ‘lawn’ is rough grass full of couch grass, MYOB and lots of other creeping, self-seeding nightmares. Compost heap contents with grass clipping are only fit to fill in the lumpy uneven bits of said grass. I won’t make the mistake of adding it to the beds again! Wow, four to six years and the woodrush still there, that’s some survival rate.
    Mountainous Northern Catalunya, Spain. Hot summers, cold winters.
  • WoodgreenWoodgreen Posts: 1,273
    @Nollie Yes, the woodrush (not the little field grass, but the bigger luzula sylvatica that grows in woodland) is a tough cookie! It was completely dead but didn't break down.

    The problem with couch, holcus and other aggressive grasses is that they grow deep here, well below the level at which edging half moons can reach to sever them. They appear two or three feet inside borders, piercing herbaceous perennials which means they need constant digging up to clean the grasses out. I have tried cutting along border edges deeply with a spade but that risks damaging tree and shrub roots. I did try leaving them until there was enough growth to apply glyphosate but of course that doesn't solve it as the mass of roots lies safely beneath the grass, only the bit in the border is affected, and even then, not the roots. 
    I plan to spray off one small section that is particularly troublesome and redesign the borders there. ( Was hoping to do that this year but the big storm changed all that.) I often wonder what depth of barrier would be needed to prevent this problem...

  • WoodgreenWoodgreen Posts: 1,273
    @Ilikeplants. Can your clods of turf be kept in the builders bag, with a tough plastic sheet tucked over and down the sides? I realise this could be unsightly if in the wrong place though.
    It may not take as long as four years -- that just happens to be how long I left those bags -- certainly seems a good idea to keep it to use when it's all broken down and free of live grass roots.
    The sealed bin would work if it will hold it all. 
  • IlikeplantsIlikeplants Posts: 894
    @Woodgreen I’m thinking of putting some of the more recent clods in the bin and then get through the builders bag to see if there’s any workable ready soil in there. I’m sure the stuff in there has been about a year in there now.
  • WoodgreenWoodgreen Posts: 1,273
    Sounds good. The bin won't take up much room, and you can always add any unrotted bits from the bag as you go through it., Or indeed if you extend the border any further! (It happens....)
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