You may have heard of the “Paul Gauchi” style of gardening using a layering system. This creates healthy, nutrient-rich garden soil that requires no-tilling. Learn how to build a lasagna garden, perfect for raised beds and for a no-till garden.
The method, when you have ample time on your hands, is quite simple: trim the grass, lay a nice thick layer of cardboard over the grass, add a layer of topsoil, some compost and mulch then let it sit for six months to a year.
But we needed to kick start this garden area so we can get it planted NOW! Watch how we sped up the process of our cottage garden by implementing steps from the lasagna gardening method.
We don’t plan to till this area, and we’ll likely be planting the same herbs and flowers year after year, so this is our method. Watch the video below.
Step 1: Cut the grass as close to the earth as possible.
Because we’re going to till up the grass (since we’ll need it nice and loose to plant our starts), we want the grass as short as possible. This just makes tilling much easier, and there’s already some organic matter in the ground.
Step 2: Till up the ground
We’re just tilling up the upper couple of inches to give us a nice soft bed for layering over. Again, if we had a year to wait for the soil to loosen on its own, we’d do it this way, but this is a quick-step method.
Step 3: Dust a small layer of compost
Because I want to kickstart the biology in the ground, I’m going to sprinkle a small bit around the dirt before adding my carbon layer.
Step 4: Add a carbon layer
Adding a layer of cardboard or construction paper creates a barrier to kill any roots left from the grass.
Typically, the next step would be to add several layers of dirt on top of the carbon layer. Because we were in a hurry to get a garden planted, we tilled up under the carbon layer, so we’ll simply dig through the carbon layer right where we’ll be planting and call it good.
Step 5: Add compost
Next, we add about two inches of compost on top of our carbon layer to really enrich this plot of land.
Step 6: Add a layer of mulch
We’re using hay mulch. Because we know where this hay came from, we know it wasn’t sprayed, there are no weed seeds (it’s been sitting for a couple years already), so we know we’re good to go with this material.
We always recommend you use the resources available to you, this is just a great economic practice!
I’m adding at least a 6-inch mulch layer because it’s very airy. If you were using a bark or wood chip mulch you could probably get away with 4 inches because it won’t settle down as much, but the more you can do the better!
Step 7: Water each layer as you go!
Be sure to water each layer as you go so everything is nice and moist and a great composition that will be ready for planting in no time.