Sheet mulching is an easy way to create a new garden bed that mimics the way nature does things. By covering the ground with biodegradable material, you improve the soil quality and kill weeds without having to dig or use harmful chemicals.
- Collect your materials. Sheet mulching is cheap and uses recycled materials, such as newspaper and cardboard and homemade compost.
- Flatten the weeds. Trample down any grass and weeds growing on the area you want to turn into a garden bed. You don't need to cut them down, just flatten them.
- Water. If the ground is dry then give it a good soaking before continuing.
- Cover up. Cover the area with a thick layer of newspaper or cardboard so that all light is excluded. Make sure the sections overlap well, so that weeds can't grow through gaps.
- Add compost. Add a deep layer (at least 3 inches deep) of compost.
- Mulch. Cover the compost with a mulch of straw, hay or cut grass to stop the surface from drying out.
- Plant. Your garden bed is now ready for planting. In its first year it is suitable for growing potatoes and other tubers, or for planting transplants and perennial plants through the mulch. As the materials break down over time, the bed will become more suitable for sowing seeds.
Sheet mulch gardens are low maintenance - the cardboard and the top layer of mulch control weeds, and there is no digging involved. You will need to top up the mulch every season to keep the bed healthy. This is an easy way to reclaim weedy ground, and can be used on a large scale - providing you can find enough cardboard and compost!