Zilker Neighborhood Gardens

Commentary by a National Wildlife Steward who helps Zilker neighbors establish native plant gardens

Monthly Archives: April 2011

May 6th: FREE Visits to Public Gardens – Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Friday, May 6 is Public Gardens Day! You can visit Austin’s Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center for free. By clicking on the link, you can download two tickets to visit the gardens on Friday, May 6th. Consider an early Mother’s Day outing (and an economical one, at that!).

Bummed because you have to work on Fridays (like most people)? The wildflower center is open from 9-5:30. Perhaps, you could leave a bit early and head out there for a quick walk around 4:00 pM.

Traveling on May 6th? No worries – there are a lot of public gardens that are participating in Public Gardens Day. You can access your two free tickets via Better Homes and Gardens to download a voucher for two free public admissions @ BHG.com/freegarden. In Texas, there are participating gardens in the following cities: Fort Davis, Weatherford, Fort Worth, Grapevine, Austin, Orange, and Corpus Christi. There are even more throughout the United States. If you use the BHG site to get your ticket vouchers, please notice the default checkmarks on the right side of the page that subscribe you a garden and recipe newsletter – uncheck those boxes if you do not want to receive those newsletters. If you don’t want to give your information to BHG, then just go directly to the participating garden’s website or call them for more information.

Update on Killing Grass with Newspaper

A while ago, I told you about the killing grass with newspaper and mulch method. At the beginning of March, I implemented this method in my front yard where I’m beginning to layout a semi-formal garden (more on that later). I put down the newspaper, wet it, and put several inches of mulch on top. This front yard has pretty good St. Augustine grass on it. Last weekend, I had to go through and dig out a few green grass blades that were getting through but overall, the method is working. Here’s a picture of the dead grass underneath the newspaper and mulch:

Dead grass under newspaper

So in about 5-6 weeks’ time, the grass is dying. I have not yet planted anything in the beds yet but if I wanted, I would just poke a hole through the newspaper and dig out the dead grass (which is easy to remove since it is dying) and plant a plant in it. Of course, you’ll need to do some consistent “grass weeding” until all the grass is dead and none is invading the area. To help with the grass invasion, we will be edging the bed with a sort of trench in the coming weeks. I’ll show some pictures of that soon.

One issue with this method is that it does not allow you to amend your soil. If you dig out all all the grass, you could amend the soil from the beginning. But digging is so difficult with established grass. If I wanted to amend the soil, I think I might kill the grass with the newspaper method by doing this method above. When I saw the grass was pretty much dead, I’d remove the mulch (use it in another area or put it on a tarp for use again). Then you could dig out the dead grass which is much easier to remove, amend the soil with lots of compost and other good things, plant your plants, and then put some of the mulch back on top!

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