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I have a small patch of soil (let's say 4x4 meters) which passes as my front garden. Right now it has a small tree and a couple of tomato and pea plants, but the rest of it is essentially bare soil.

I'm not planning on planting anything for the rest of the year (though I am planning on growing a number of things when the weather cools enough). I was wondering whether there is any benefit to planting grass in it. When I say benefit I mean for the actual garden, not for aesthetic purposes - or will it simply serve as extra competition for when I actually put the vegetables in?

If it makes any difference it's a south Mediterranean climate, so it's always various degrees of warm or hot.

  • What kind of tree is it, and is the grass planned to be permanent or just there for a while, if you plant it? – Brōtsyorfuzthrāx Jun 22 '17 at 23:23
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    The tree is an orange tree, and I was planning on keeping the grass permanent, though I'd remove patches of it as needed when I plant things. – Haedrian Jun 23 '17 at 5:27
  • Think beyond just grass - generically, a cover crop. I'm prone to clover if walking on it, alfalfa if not walking on it, but it depends what works in your climate at that time of year. – Ecnerwal Jun 24 '17 at 3:04
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Grass serves and can serve a number of non-aesthetic purposes. I'll list some.

  • It prevents weeds from growing.
  • It can keep the ground more moist for your tree, especially if you're one to water your lawn.
  • The grass clippings can be useful for compost or other purposes (e.g. mulch).
  • It feels good to walk in grass in bare feet (provided it's not full of bees attracted by clover blossoms). It may also be good for play or picnics. You might actually consider clover instead of grass if you're not going to be walking on it barefoot, though, since it's a nitrogen fixer and because it does attract bees for your garden.
  • It prevents trees from growing all over your yard (that's my experience, anyway)
  • The worms probably enjoy it more than bare dirt.
  • It prevents you from getting mud on your shoes when you walk on it when it's wet.
  • Dogs and cats like to eat or chew on it sometimes.
  • It may reduce the temperature somewhat, especially on/under the soil.
  • It discourages large quantities of ants, burrowing spiders, and such from taking up residence.
  • It may have similar benefits as mulch.
  • You can sit on it without getting dirty/dusty.
  • It makes the surface beneath you softer.

Anyway I'm not saying whether grass is better than no grass, or that the pros outweigh the cons, but you didn't ask about the cons, per se (e.g. you have to cut it, it uses nutrients, cutting it without damaging your tomatoes may be harder than expected, etc.)

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    It also retains topsoil in which could otherwise blow away, and improves surface-water drainage over baked earth, useful for capturing summer rains – Chris H Jun 23 '17 at 8:05
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When you are ready to make a vegetable garden you simply use a sod cutter to make the rows; 3' wide. Double dig the soil, use a tarp for the first dig of soil, the soil will be up as high as 3' all fluffed up. Dig down at least a foot. Turn the soil over as you go. Then rake flat. I would use the sod cutter to cut out 4' wide rows. That allows a 6"X6" trench at the bottom of your fluffed up beds to collect water. To not allow the water to wash the soil onto the grass paths (minimum should be the width of your lawn mower). Luxurious vegetable garden. Forget about 'competition' with the grass. You will be applying fertilizer appropriate for vegetables. When fertilizing the grass paths use a drop spreader, not a rotary spreader. You do not want high nitrogen in your vegetable beds. Get soil tests. Concentrate on making some beds more acidic 5.5 to 6.0; potatoes, blueberries, acid loving plants. Most of the beds should be 6.5 to 7.0. Make enough to be able to rotate your crops; no tomatoes in the same bed for at least two years...oh to include all of the vegetables in the tomato/nightshade family...eggplant, potatoes, peppers...

For winter make sure you've got seed for covercrops. Annual rye, red clover, buckwheat...there are a bunch of choices. This prevents weed seeds from germinating and taking hold during the fallow period of your garden. Spring you simply turn them over with a shovel. If you don't have clay you can use a rototiller. Add nitrogen and allow to decompose for a month before planting. Super way to build up soil, enhance your soil life, boost the tilth, forget about weed problems.

Some of the most famous gardens are done this way. Go ahead and prepare a great bed for your lawn. Do not forget to compact with a roller at least 3 or 4 times. A sod cutter works so well, sharp edges. Double dig the bed then form with a rake, a sheet of plywood to jump up and down on to compact the soil to get rid of large air pockets and permit great soil/seed contact. Dig the trenches all around your bed throwing the soil up on the bed. You'll have to clean out the trenches once or twice a year in the same way. Do not use any plastic, any non decomposed bark. Do not line with rock. Compost can also be added to the top after plants are up you do not want to plant directly into compost. And compost is not to be used as fertilizer. Add the amounts of chemicals compost provides into the entire formulation you are in charge of adding. Dark, yummy soil doesn't mean it has the necessary chemicals plants have to have to do photosynthesis to make the food they need. Too much fertilizer means death.

Gorgeous gorgeous vegetable garden. Possibly a fence made with welded wire and dimensional lumber to keep out rabbits, dogs, cats, raccoons...glad you asked!

raised beds without lumber and lawn walkways

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