Converting a lawn into a garden does not have to be a hard task that employs tools like a sod cutter. Sheet mulching is a much more simple technique that involves layering cardboard, compost, and other organic material right over your grass. This kills your grass, leaving behind perfect beds with rich soil. It is a good idea to stockpile plenty of autumn leaves, composted manure, and garden waste before beginning. If you begin sheet-mulching your yard in the fall, it will be ready to plant the following spring.
Use some kind of marking to create a perimeter of the new garden bed you are preparing. Scalp the grass within the perimeter with a lawn mower.
Spread a 2 inch layer of compost or composted manure over the bed. This encourages microbial activity in the soil and speeds decomposition. Be sure to moisten the compost well.
Place overlapping pieces of cardboard on top of the compost to smother the underlying vegetation and prevent light from reaching any weed seeds. Next, soak the cardboard with water.
Spread a 2 inch layer of compost over the cardboard and top it with up to 18 inches of mixed organic material. You can use grass clippings, leaves, straw, seaweed, garden debris, or farmyard manure.
If you have any vegetable, fruit scraps, and coffee grounds in the kitchen, include these organic materials in the layers of organic matter. Be sure to moisten each layer.
If your goal is to create vegetable beds, finish with 2 to 3 inches if straw or compost. Top ornamental beds with 4 inches of wood chips. In arid climates, water the bed occasionally. Earthworms and soil microbes will work through the winter to decompose the organic material, cardboard, and sod.
Once everything has decomposed, your soil will be rich and ready to nourish new crops.
Once your garden bed is ready, plant delicious crops and watch as your yard becomes so much more than just another lawn! Next, enjoy the fruits of your toil (literally!).
Image: Local Food Initiative/flickr