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.
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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 compost, leaf 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- Hose with Spray Nozzle (if you are using newspaper)
- Landscape Pins (if you are using weed fabric)
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.
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.
- After you’ve planned sited and determined the size of the new garden, measure and lay out the area.
- 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.
- 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.
- Top off the new beds with mulch, stone or pea gravel.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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- I like to use a good-quality, potting soil, garden soil, compost, and perlite when planting. While I make my own compost, you can easily buy it ready-made for use.
- I have used this deer repellent with great success. But now, I’m all about this deer repellent that is systemic instead of topical. This means the plant takes it in as opposed to it just smelling bad. If you want to minimize the work and not use repellents, choose plants that are deer-resistant from this list.
- Hands down this is my favorite hand-weeding tool. You can use it to get underneath roots and loosen soil, and it cuts down on the weeding time because you work much faster.
- But I also love this long, stand-up weeding tool to really get around roses from afar.
- I use this organic fertilizer for roses because the blooms are more prolific and it’s organic.
- And I use this organic fertilizer for my vegetables and herbs in the potager garden.
- You’ll need a sharp set of pruners when working with plants and flowers. I buy a few so I can stash them around.
- I use these garden snips to deadhead and cut flowers from my gardens.
- Where pest and disease problems are concerned, if I need to, I generally use this insecticidal soap or neem oil to help control infestations depending on the issue. When using, only apply when pollinators are less active.
- This is my go-to bait for slug and snail problems with my hostas and dahlias.
- This is my favorite set-and-forget slow-release fertilizer for houseplants, annuals, and container gardens.
- Whenever I stake my peonies or other plants, I generally use these grow-through garden supports because they work really well and keep the blooms upright.
- I use this collapsible bin ALL THE TIME. It is invaluable when working in the beds as it’s light to carry around and folds flat for easy storage.
- Drip irrigation set on a timer is your friend! I love these for my planters, window boxes, and hanging baskets.
- And this four way hose bib allows you to split one spicket into four!
Click here to shop my favorite garden supplies!
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:
- Early Spring Garden Tour 2023
- New Gardens Tour
- Early Spring Garden
- Early Summer Garden Tour
- Gardening for Summer Highs and Lows
- The Prettiest Fall Garden Ideas
But I also share weekly pics of the gardens in my Sunday updates.
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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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