Sheet Mulching

Sheet mulching, or lasagna gardening, is the process of turning barren ground into a more nourishing garden without digging. It is a layered system that can be used for a yard garden or a topical box garden. Starting at the bottom is a weed proof barrier, like newspaper or cardboard. On top of that is a twelve-inch layer of compost or mulch material such as old clothes, yard clippings, and manure, which provides for nutrient rich soil. Weed-free soil is added prior to planting the desired crop.

Sheet mulching provides many benefits, aside from increased productivity due to the improved soil condition, for instance, the ability to retain water will prevent soil erosion. Sheet mulching will also reduce the need for pesticides or herbicides.

Sheet mulching requires minimal maintenance once it is established. Organic material is added periodically keeping the system active making it necessary to stock pile the necessary materials. Weeds such as bindweed and Bermuda grass produce seeds that can remain dormant under the sheet mulching for an indefinite time. Slug treatment may be necessary to control the pest from around the decomposing mulching area. Protection from varmints such as skunks and raccoons may also be required for the sheet mulching area depending on the organic material used.

Image Caption: Leaf Litter (symbolizing one likely process involved in sheet mulching). Credit: Thinkstock