Garden Hack of the Month: Sheet Mulching

November 15, 2017

Although we’ve seen plenty of rain and wind the past couple of weeks, it’s a good time to think about any changes you’d like to make to your garden before the nice weather returns in Spring and Summer. A big change that many people are starting to make is getting rid of lawn area, as they are big water guzzlers. This helps reduce water usage and can open up more space for planting areas or patios.

If you’re thinking of getting rid of your lawn or have a patch of weeds that need to go, this month’s garden hack will have you getting rid of them without spending hours pulling weeds or renting a sod cutter. Sheet mulching helps suppress weeds, kills grass without the use of chemicals, and even helps improve soils.

Before, During, and After Sheet Mulching

Before, During, and After Sheet Mulching

The supplies you’ll need to sheet mulch include:

  • Cardboard or newspaper- cardboard is most commonly used and easier to use, newspaper needs to be 5-7 pages thick for this to work
  • Compost or manure- 5-6 inches deep
  • Mulch, such as wood chips- about 3 inches deep

The first step you’ll want to do is to measure the area you’re wanting to sheet mulch. This will help you determine how much cardboard, compost, and mulch that you’ll need. You can then take those measurements and use a cubic calculator to figure out the cubic yards.

Before Sheet Mulching

Before Sheet Mulching

If you’re going to be sheet mulching over grass, go ahead and mow it very short. You can leave the clippings as this will had more organic material to the soil. If you have any really tall weeds, you’ll also want to cut those down.

Before laying down your cardboard or newspaper, you should water the area which will help the process of decomposition along. When laying down your cardboard or newspaper, make sure they overlap at least 6-8 inches so that there are no gaps for weeds or grass to grow through. If there are plants that you’re wanting to save in the area you’re sheet mulching in, you must leave a wide enough opening around the base so that air can circulate around the root crown. Once you have your cardboard or newspaper down, walk on top of it to help it lay flat.

Sheet Mulching

During Sheet Mulching

After the cardboard or newspaper step is done, you’ll want to then cover the entire area with a layer of compost or manure that is 5-6 inches deep. After that, you can put a layer of wood chips on top of that at about 3 inches deep. The wood chips will help retain moisture and provide a nice finished appearance. Both the compost/manure layer and mulch/wood chip layer need to be weed free.

After Sheet Mulching

After Sheet Mulching

If you’re wanting to plant new plants in the area, make sure to cut away enough cardboard to allow for water and air to reach the root crown. Bigger plants should be planted before putting down the cardboard or newspaper.

After the grass/weeds have died and the cardboard has started to break down, you’ll have a very healthy area for planting.

Have you tried sheet mulching before? How did it go? Did you find any handy tips and tricks that helped you get rid of lawn and weeds? Let us know in the comments, we’d love to hear from you!

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