I've never gardened before and would like to start a small (4' x 8') vegetable garden this year in our yard. I'm hoping to plant sugar snap peas, tomatoes, cucumber, zucchini, and possibly watermelon. We're renting our house, and the yard has quite a bit of ivy (6'-8' border) around the edges of the backyard. Someone has apparently had a garden in the corner of the yard before, as there is still wire around the garden and wire trellises in the plot. By now, though, that area is completely overgrown with English ivy.

I'd like to plant our garden in the previous garden plot, as that's most convenient for us in terms of location. I was planning to uproot the ivy using the white vinegar method as cited here: (How to Get Rid of English Ivy in the Landscape) for several weeks in a row. As I'm pregnant and have two toddlers running around, I'd rather not use toxic herbicides. I'm concerned about the surrounding ivy growing into the bed, though. I've read about two general methods for growing - double-digging vs. raised garden bed. Both are equally difficult for us to implement, with the raised garden bed being somewhat more expensive. Will either be better in terms of preventing the surrounding ivy from infiltrating the garden? Or is there something else that I should do in terms of getting rid of the ivy?

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1 Answer 1


Please send a picture of the area of course. You should be fine. I would pull as much up as I could and dump tons of soil ON TOP of the area you want to use. I always double dig to make raised beds with no wood or concrete. This is different because the more you chop up roots THIS YEAR you will only encourage these plants to grow more thickly. I'd bring in at least a foot if not two of top soil. The soil companies will help you place it. I'd get it a good 2 feet high to begin with. Being pregnant does not make you fragile and if you are in shape you shall be just fine. If not be a director.

Rake your beds (at least 6X6' to be most efficient with the soil) and have someone put a piece of plywood on top and jump on top to compact the soil. Rake again and compact again. Make sure you put a trench at the bottom of these 6'sqare beds to drain excess water. Weed wack the ivy down to the ground all around and inbetween these beds. If you could put landscape fabric down and top with 2-4" of gravel that would help tremendously. Don't worry about the ivy for now. When ever you see it pop up just pull any green growth, this will begin starving the ivy. You'll have plenty of time to grow vegetables this season.

For next year, get a 'cover crop' which is clover, or annual rye or buckwheat or well, there are a number of them. They will out compete the ivy and other weeds. This will be turned over in your soil the next spring before it flowers. While this stuff is decomposing in your soil you can then PAINT glyphosate on any healthy green growth of those vines. In 3 to 4 weeks you have done a great job on ivy control, built up your raised bed soil and should be able to plant. I'd put more gravel on the walkways and surrounding area. Make sure you use landscape fabric beneath the gravel. That was what it was made for in the first place...nothing else! Keep pulling ivy and someday you should be able to put metal down around the edges of your garden to stop invasion.first beds to be covered by greenhouse

temporary hoop house over raised beds

  • 1
    Thanks so much for your answer! I'm a bit confused about some of what you've written - complete gardening newbies here. Are you saying that we should build a raised garden bed this year? And if yes, should the plywood be used as the bottom of the bed or is that just meant to be used for compacting the soil? What kind of trench at the bottom of the beds? And should the landscape fabric + gravel be around the beds or at under the beds? A bit more explanation would be very helpful, if possible :). Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 19:51
  • Great questions! From your picture I see that this area is on the north side of your home and shaded by a big ole tree as well. Not a great spot. If I were you I would make that lawn into your garden. Sod cutter take out the sod and then double dig. NO plywood or fabric beneath those beds.
    – stormy
    Commented Mar 24, 2017 at 0:13
  • Thanks for your answer! That makes sense. I'll see what we decide... Commented Mar 26, 2017 at 14:50
  • Is there a spot that doesn't get shade on your property? Let us know what you decide to do and if you have any other questions on your journey making a place to grow vegetables!
    – stormy
    Commented Mar 27, 2017 at 15:32

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