Ditch the digging, embrace the layers! Get a thriving garden the EASY way with lasagna gardening’s no-sweat secrets. Read on and create new gardens without breaking your back! (This post was written in collaboration with Gardener’s Supply but all thoughts and opinions are my own.)

I’ve never mentioned this before, but several of our garden beds were started with the lasagna gardening method in my former gardens.

Have you ever heard of this method before?

It makes starting a new garden so much easier and you can do it for little to no cost, depending on the materials used.

Today, I’m sharing how to start a new garden using the lasagna gardening method with these corrugated metal planters that I received from Gardener’s Supply. It couldn’t be more simple to do. Learn how to sheet mulch with these simple tips.

(Posts on stacyling.com may contain affiliate links. Click HERE for full disclosure.)

What is Lasagna Gardening?

You might be asking yourself, are we cooking or are we gardening. Let me explain. Because if you didn’t know this method before, you are going to love how it’s done!

Lasagna gardening, also known as sheet mulching, is a no-dig, organic gardening method that takes inspiration from the layered structure of, you guessed it, lasagna! Instead of tilling the soil, you build up your planting area by adding layers of different organic materials that decompose over time, creating rich, fertile soil.

Here’s a breakdown of how it works:

Sheet Mulch Layers

  • Brown layers: These are high-carbon materials like cardboard, leaves, straw, and sawdust. They provide structure and aeration to the soil.
  • Green layers: These are nitrogen-rich materials like grass clippings, vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, and manure. They add nutrients and help break down the brown layers.
  • Optional layers: You can also add things like compostleaf mold, topsoil, and wood chips to further enrich the soil.

The Benefits of Lasagna Gardening

If you aren’t convinced yet, let me tell you how much using the lasagna method of starting a garden will benefit you and your garden.

  • No hard work: No need to dig or break your back!
  • Good for the environment: You’re recycling yard waste and kitchen scraps, reducing landfill waste.
  • Improves soil fertility: The decomposing layers create rich, healthy soil that nourishes your plants.
  • Suppresses weeds: The layers smother existing weeds and prevent new ones from growing.
  • Low maintenance: Once established, lasagna gardens require minimal watering and weeding.
Gorgeous cottage garden in the backyard in front of a garden shed with sedum autumn joy and wood picket fence with dahlias and zinniasin front of garden shed in backyard garden with green garden stakes topped with terra cotta clay pots - My cut flower garden in front of the shed in the backyard with a wood picket fence and sedum autumn joy - How to Save Money at the Garden Nursery
My Former Cottage Garden by the Shed Started Using the Lasagna Gardening Method

Who Does the Lasagna Gardening Method Benefit the Most?

As I mentioned before, I have used the sheet mulch method in my gardens for several years. Because I did not have the strength to dig out all those flower beds myself, it was much easier to do lasagna gardening than removing all that turf.

Cause that would be alot of manual labor! And I don’t know about you, but I’d rather plant my garden than dig out a lot of grass.

  • Perfect for beginners: Easy to learn and doesn’t require any special skills.
  • Great for gardeners with limited mobility: No digging means less physical strain.
  • Easier for experienced gardeners: Less time is needed to start new beds.
  • Ideal for small spaces: Can be used in raised beds or even directly on lawns.
  • Weedy garden beds: If you’ve got a flower bed that is completely weeded over and you don’t want to do all that digging and hoeing them out, this method is ideal.
Woodland Garden on the Happy Gardening tour with ferns, cranesbill, rhododendron
This woodland garden was using the lasagna gardening method. I plants some larger shrubs and used weed fabric around them. I regretted using the weed fabric in this bed. Find out why below.

How to Use the Lasagna Gardening Method

Since I’ve done most of the digging and planting here by myself, I had to find other methods to save my energy for just planting. Of course, you can start a garden using the traditional method, but I’ve got a way that will save time…and your back.

Here’s how to do it.

The no-dig method is a gardening technique that involves creating a garden bed without digging into the soil. This approach is becoming increasingly popular because it’s a simple and effective way to create a healthy, thriving garden without the need for excessive labor.

I’ve been using this method to start new beds for years. And it’s the perfect way to begin my new raised garden beds this year too.

Since we dismantled the vegetable garden a few weeks ago that was in front of the garden shed, we needed to start a garden for the vegetables in another area of the yard.

Backyard cottage garden in front of garden shed -cut flower garden in nj in late summer with sedum autumn joy just starting to bloom
Sedum autumn joy as it starts to bloom in backyard garden

Find a Location

Whenever you are starting a new garden, it’s a good idea to site the bed based on what you want to grow and where it will get the right amount of sunlight.

The location for our new vegetable garden is still in dispute. But I decided to site it in the middle of our backyard because that is the best spot to receive full sun, it is close to a water source and my kitchen. And I think it will look best there.

I’ve decided to design a raised bed vegetable garden using these self-watering raised beds by Gardener’s Supply.

Yes, that’s right, they are self-watering. Isn’t that awesome?

A large majority of the grass in our backyard is on a septic bed. So we can’t dig a new garden in that area and we’ve really struggled to grow grass there.

And my motto is, if I can’t grow grass then a garden will go in its place. It’s worked well for me so far as you can see there are several gardens throughout my home.

How to Plant Flowers in Window Boxes with view of garden shed with small cut flower garden surrounded by wood picket fence in suburban backyard
My backyard gardens were created using the lasagna gardening method

Determine the Size of the New Garden

Next, you’ll need to determine the size of your garden based on what you want to grow and how much room you have.

Since I’m doing pre-made raised beds, we built the beds, left about 18-24″ in between each one, and spaced them out accordingly.

I’ll chat more about these beds in the next blog, but wanted to share them with you while I’m setting up the new garden.

happy gardening with climbing roses and an obelisk

Supplies Needed for Lasagna Gardening

The supplies needed to start a new garden the easy way is pretty minimal. Depending on the type of garden you are making, you should adjust the materials.

  • Newspaper, Cardboard, Leaves, Grass Clippings, or Weed Fabric (use only in limited circumstances though)
  • Mulch, Stone or Pea Gravel
  • Scissors
  • Hose with Spray Nozzle (if you are using newspaper)
  • Landscape Pins (if you are using weed fabric)
stinking hellebore lenten rose in shade garden with different hosta varieties, variegated willow and wine and roses weigela and joe pye weedhappy gardening in the backyard garden
The backyard border was created using the no-dig method.

So Why Do the Sheet Mulch Supplies Matter?

Having started several gardens using the no-dig method to starting a garden, I have an opinion. And it’s based on the goals of the garden.

If the goal is to start a flower or cottage garden, then use newspaper or cardboard because both will kill the grass, suppress weeds while allowing for easier planting and self-sowing later.

On the other hand, if the goal is to smother the grass, suppress weeds, and cover it with mulch, stone, or gravel to get a clean look, then weed fabric may be better to use because it will last longer than newspaper or cardboard.

At the end of the day, it’s a matter of preference. When I was a little less experienced, I created new shrub borders using weed fabric and it is a huge pain to dig new holes in that fabric later. It was a mistake to do it that way and I strongly recommend going with cardboard or newspaper for that purpose.

And therefore, it is much easier and better for your garden to use newspaper or cardboard in flower, shrub, and vegetable beds.

Lilac flowers by the Fire Pit Garden at night lit with solar lanters and surrounded by hostas and twinkle lights
7 Mistakes to Avoid When Designing a Backyard Living Space

Directions for Lasagna Gardening

For this new garden, I want to smother the grass, cover it with gravel, and add raised garden beds for my vegetable garden. Thus, I’m using weed fabric for this particular bed.

I chose this location and this method because it sits on top of our septic bed, so we can’t dig in the ground anyway. We’ve struggled to grow grass here for years and it gets the most sun on the property making it the best spot for a vegetable garden.

This is how I started my new garden using the sheet mulch method.

  1. After you’ve planned sited and determined the size of the new garden, measure and lay out the area.
  2. Lay down newspaper, cardboard or weed fabric covering the entire area. If planting in the ground at the same time, dig plants in then put the newspaper and cardboard around the plants.
  3. If using weed fabric, cut to size and tack it down so it doesn’t blow around. But if you are using newspaper, apply several layers down and wet it with a hose so it doesn’t blow around.
  4. Top off the new beds with mulch, stone or pea gravel.
How to Start a Garden the Easy Way with a raised garden bed from gardeners supply
This is one of the raised beds I am using for the new vegetable garden by Gardener’s Supply. I have 5 total beds that I am using for the new garden.
How to Start a Garden the Easy Way with two raised garden beds from gardeners supply
I’m using (4) 4×4 self-watering raised garden beds and (1) 2×8 self-watering raised garden bed by Gardener’s Supply. Aren’t they fabulous? I love the industrial look of my future vegetable garden.
How to Start a Garden the Easy Way - laying out the new garden beds with weed fabric below to smother the grass
After sizing the bed, I layed the weed fabric down underneath and tacked it down so it didn’t blow around.
How to Start a Garden the Easy Way - measuring the garden space to lay out the weed fabric
Since I don’t have all the raised beds yet, I measured the distance needed to complete the garden so it is ready when the new beds arrive.
How to Start a Garden the Easy Way - raised garden beds from gardeners supply sitting on top of weed fabric to suppress the lawn
It’s looking really good so far!
How to Start a Garden the Easy Way laying weed fabric beneath raised garden beds to smother grass.
I am using 3/8″ pea gravel around the beds to finish it off and weigh the fabric down. That weight will help smother grass below.

Quick Tips for Starting a New Garden Using the No-Dig Method

  • This method can be used to start a new garden or to suppress weeds yearly between plants. If you want to suppress weeds in the flower garden, I suggest using newspaper or cardboard between plants because they will break down over time and enrich the soil.
  • Weed fabric has its place but does not work well in a flower garden. Over time, plants grow, self-sow and reseed themselves, or you may want to change things up, and it’s really a pain to work with for this purpose.
  • Apply 4-5 layers of the newspaper when using the newspaper method so it is thick enough to last a while.
  • When using newspaper, hose the paper down while you work so it doesn’t blow around.
  • Save your boxes for future gardens!
self-watering raised garden bed filled with vegetables in suburban new jersey garden
Here’s a sneak peak of the final look! CLICK HERE to see more!

Update

Since writing this post, we moved to an 1850 farmhouse with expansive gardens. If you’d like to see more how my new raised vegetable garden beds did, head over to this post where the gardens come together. We added the self-watering systems, soil and amendments, plants, and more pea gravel.

Happy Gardening!

blue flowers on Endless summer hydrangeas in backyard garden with raised garden bed planters and garden shed - Are Hydrangeas Deer Resistant?
Endless summer hydrangeas with a view of my new vegetable garden after using the lasagna gardening method.

Why It’s Easier to Start a New Garden With the No-Dig Method

The sheet mulch method is easier for several reasons. First, it saves time and labor because you don’t have to dig and till the soil. This means less work and less strain on your back and muscles.

Second, the layers of organic matter (if not using weed fabric) help to create a healthy growing environment by improving soil structure, increasing water retention, and providing essential nutrients for your plants. This can result in healthier plants, higher yields, and a more productive garden.

Finally, the no-dig method can also help to reduce weed growth because the layers of organic matter smother weed seeds and prevent them from germinating. This means less time spent weeding and more time enjoying your garden.

zinias and rudbeckia in the cottage garden in fall

More About Starting a New Garden

Have you tried this method to start a new garden before? If so, what are your best tips that you’d like to share? I would love to know more in the comments below.

And don’t miss joining my Gardening DIY and Decorating Community on Facebook for more chatter. And follow along there and on Instagram as well. There are behind-the-scenes daily things that I share on Instagram that don’t make it to the blog. Would love to see you there too!

If you prefer to binge-watch Bricks ’n Blooms on TV, we go more in-depth with tours and posts on my YouTube channel. Would love to hang out with you there!

And… If you’re catching up on blog posts you may have missed, be sure to sign-up to get my newest posts via email to stay up to date with everything that’s happening here on the blog and more.

zinnias and dahlias in potager garden by farmhouse

Garden Supplies I Use

Since I’ve been gardening for well over twenty-five years, I’m often asked about the garden supplies and tools that I use most. From pruners to deer repellents, here are some of my favorites that I use in no particular order.

dahlia kogane fubuki in the potager garden

Click here to shop my favorite garden supplies!

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If you’ve always dreamed of bringing country charm to your home while creating a beautiful, relaxing space, I got you! Learn how to grow flowers in even the smallest of spaces with my easy-care, low-maintenance approach.

My New Flower Gardens

If you want to check out my new gardens throughout the season you can see them here:

But I also share weekly pics of the gardens in my Sunday updates.

Subscribe here so you don’t miss out on the gardening inspo!

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I’m a master gardener who’s been gardening and growing things for over 25 years and author of the best-selling book, The Bricks ‘n Blooms Guide to a Beautiful and Easy-Care Flower Garden. With a deep passion for gardening, I enjoy helping others find their inner green thumb with all things plants and flowers, as well as finding ways to bring the outdoors inside their homes.

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close up of garden shed with wood picket fence and yellow bearded irsis
The shed garden is another area where I used the easy method to starting a garden.
Yellow Bearded Iris and Globemaster Allium in the Cottage Garden
Outdoor Living Space Home Tour with view from fire pit in the backyard of suburban garden
Even the backyard border along the property line was created using the easy method.
Gardening for Hummingbirds in the backyard with double flowering impatiens that are pink and bearded iris near firepit garden with two adirondack chairs
Even the fire pit garden and surrounding area was created using the easy method.
close up of lilac blooms and a garden shed on the happy gardening tour in my backyard garden with wood picket fence
Backyard garden that was started with the lasagna gardening method.
How to Start a Garden the Easy Way
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13 Comments

    1. Thank you! I’m in love with these beds. I love the look and can’t wait to finish setting them up!

  1. This makes so much sense!!! I have been trying to convince my husband to start using raised beds for his veggie gardens. I would imagine the maintenance is so much less and much easier on the back too:)
    Thanks for sharing!!!

    1. I find raised beds a little easier on the back and they are great for veggie gardens! I’m really loving these! I am hoping to get at least one of them planted with cool-season veggies this week!

  2. Pingback: Bricks 'n Blooms Weekly 25 - Stacy Ling
  3. Good morning
    I’m not sure I’m understanding if the raised beds r over the septic tank. U shouldn’t do this as the septic must breathe. Plus if growing veggies it would not be good. Please call ur septic company to be sure this won’t hurt your septic system.
    Ur gardens r gorgeous.

  4. I’m glad someone is having some luck with landscape fabric because Ihate the stuff.It just doesn’t last long and then you have a mess.I have found that heavy gauge black plastic is far more effective and it lasts until you want to remove it.That fabric is only good for leaving you with a mess in a few years.

    1. Hi Roy! I’m actually not a fan of landscape fabric at all but use it in limited circumstances like this one.

    1. Hi Pat! For each raised bed, I used 20 cubic feet of a mix of raised bed garden soil, hummus and compost.

  5. I want to try your method around my trees with hosta but I’m concerned about choking out my trees, like will they get the watering they need with all the stuff padded around them ? I tried fabric in my veg garden before and it molded ..and weeds still made they’re way through,so I’m interested in the cardboard idea.

    1. Hi Denise – if you are concerned, plant them further out from the trunk so you aren’t as close to the tree.