No Dig Garden Bed
Also known as lasagna gardening or sheet composting
If you plan ahead, you can create many new garden beds without any digging at all and without removing any weeds ahead of time. You may have heard this method called sheet composting or Lasagna Gardening. It's the easiest and best method for starting a new garden bed, in my opinion.
Things You'll Need:
- grass clippings
- peat moss
- shredded leaves
- any other organic matter
Mark out an area in your yard where you would like to have a new garden bed and mow the grass very short in that area.
Edge the area with a material of your choice to help prevent weeds from creeping into the bed later on. For a natural look, field stone is nice, or you can go with an almost invisible plastic or metal edging. There are also many wonderful edging materials available at your local home improvement store.
Lay down 10-12 layers of black and white newspaper all over the grass, overlapping the sheets by at least 4". Spray the paper with water prevent it from blowing away. Make sure no grass is showing. The newspaper will block light from reaching the grass so it will eventually die and decompose into the earth.
Start layering organic matter on top of the newspaper. You can use anything that you have available. I like to use compost, topsoil, shredded leaves, partially decomposed shredded bark mulch, grass clippings and peat moss.
Continue layering the materials so that you have at least two to three inches of each material per layer. Repeat as needed. The bed will settle and decompose over time, so if you want the finished bed to be 6" deep, you will want to layer at least 12" of material on top of the ground.
After you are finished layering the bed, I like to put a top layer of compost mixed with topsoil for the final layer on top. This will help hold down the materials below that may be lighter in weight, and the compost will help the decomposition process get started. Water the bed well and then put a layer of mulch on top to help prevent any weeds from sprouting.
Now all you need to do is wait 3-6 months for the bed to decompose and settle and then it's ready to plant as normal. You will find the bed will be full of worms and very easy to work. In fact, I have planted in these new beds with just my hands to make the holes for the plants.
Tips & Warnings:
It's best to start these beds in the fall when organic material is plentiful due to fallen leaves. Then the bed can rest all winter and be ready to plant come spring time. Bag or rake your grass clippings 2-3 times a month to save for your new beds.
Use a metal rake or shovel to help you spread out the material easily.
Compost and topsoil can be purchased by the truckload inexpensively if you will be making large beds.
Only use the black and white newspaper, not the shiny ads, as they will not decompose as fast and the inks on the shiny ads may not be safe for vegetable crops.
If your bed will be for food crops, do not use grass clippings that have been treated with chemical herbicides or pesticides.