Lawn Conversion

We’ve spent the entire weekend smothering our grass lawn. The method we used is called “sheet mulching“. Basically, it’s a way to build up the soil without having to till or add synthetic fertilizers. Because of the horribly compacted soil and multiple layers of sod netting, we thought this would be the best way to prepare the soil for planting our edible and medicinal landscape.

Here is our before picture: Nice, green and water-hogging.

He was a huge help and worked very hard with us. In his words: “Whew! I’m working up an appetizer!” Here he is being silly atop one of two truck-loads of horse manure picked up from a friendly horse owner who was more than happy that I was willing to “take his crap”:

A friend of ours rented a sod cutter and removed a large piece of turf for her dirt backyard. Then came the first step of laying down cardboard. The best place to find cardboard for this project was the billiards store! The cardboard creates a barrier that kills the remaining grass and any weeds.
After we wet the cardboard (to hold it down), we started laying layers of newspaper and wet those down as well. We also spread a layer of grass clippings on top of the newspaper for compost. On top of that we layered the manure about 2-4 inches deep.
This is the finished product. Note to self and others: Place staked boards along the edges prior to starting the project. We will probably come back in a few months and add more manure or compost.

We’re going to allow this to sit and decompose for a few months before planting in the fall (our mild winters require fall planting to allow plants to root well before our extreme summer heat hits). We still have a lot of planning to do and need to find a way to make a retaining wall or fence as a barrier. I like the idea of a trellis as a fence, but our main priority is to not use any new materials.

Our neighbors officially know we’re crazy and probably don’t appreciate the smell of manure, but we’re very happy with the project so far and will be working on the remaining plans all summer.

I took video of our progress along the way but need to put it all together and will probably wait and post it when we’re ready to plant (in order to show the whole project from start to finish).

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3 Comments. Leave new

The good. The bad. The ugly. « TheOrganicSister
January 16, 2009 1:14 pm

[…] in the U.S. and creates problems down the road. He also thinks we might have an issue with the sheet mulching we did, although I think he’s just unfamiliar with sheet […]

Zachary Stowasser
January 21, 2009 7:42 pm

yes! how is it coming along? have you dug down to take a peek? have you been watering it? does it need it (curious for vegas)

TheOrganicSister
January 22, 2009 7:56 am

Yes, it definitely needs water. We water it as we normally would. It’s coming along great, although the 6-8 inches we piled on has compacted down to nothing. We’ve also been burying compost in it and our worm population is amazing. The soil underneath looks darker than before (we’ve dug down to put in the fence posts) as the mulch leaches down the nutrients, so I’m excited to see how planting goes.

I’ll do an updated post about it soon.