Building new beds without digging up the lawn
Sheet Mulching - Lasagna Gardening
I no longer dig up the lawn to make a new bed, instead I make a raised bed right over top. Not only is this method easy, it keeps nutrients, micro-organisms and macro-organisms, including the ever-important earthworms in the soil. Pulling up the lawn removes topsoil, and all kind of goodies within including precious organic matter from the soil.
Sheet mulching, also referred to lasagna gardening as it builds a garden bed out of layers made out of the lawn, compost, soil, newspapers, cardboard and mulch. And it works. As the grass, cardboard and newspaper break down due to all kinds of organisms, it results into a rich, organic rich loam.
Pick a calm day with no wind, get the garden hose ready, have lots and lots of newspaper and/or cardboard, plenty of an organic mulch (leaves, straw, wood chips etc.) and having some help is a good thing.
- Use a garden hose laid out on the ground to make an outline where you want the new bed to be. If you wish, use landscape paint (found at home hardware stores) to mark on the grass the outline of the new bed then remove the hose.
- Optional: place 1/2 to 1 inch of compost or soil on top of the grass.
- Water well before going to step 4.
- Place ½ inch layer of newspaper or cardboard on top of grass, wet the paper as you go. Don't use shiny paper, magazines and cardboard with plastic tape. Coloured newspaper is not toxic and is safe to use.
- Add at least 6 inches of soil combined with manure, compost and/or SeaSoil on top of the paper and mix everything together. Rake level then water.
- Add three inches of organic mulch on top of the soil. Do not mix it in and water again.
- Either slope the sides gently to the lawn then install lawn edging or place cinder blocks, bricks or wood to enclose the bed.
- If you wish to plant, wait for a week to plant small rooted plants such as annuals, perennials and veggies.If you want to plant deeper rooted plants asap, then increase the soil depth from 6 inches to a foot.
- It will take up to a year for the newspaper to decompose, depending on the weather, the location of the bed and the depth of the soil. After a year, if the newspaper hasn't decomposed, cut through the paper to plant. The grass will not be alive and won't regrow.