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How to Use the Lasagna Gardening Method

You may have heard of the Back to Eden Gardening with Paul Gautschi 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.

A father and son laying paper over dirt in a garden.

This past year we had a plot of ground that we wanted to turn into a cottage garden. Basically, a smaller garden off our kitchen where we would grow all our herbs and medicinals, plus a few other flowers and such.

But the only problem was, the whole area was covered in sod.

Normally, if you have ample time on your hands, turning sod into a garden plot is 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 what if you want to turn a plot of sod into a garden THIS year?

This is exactly where we found ourselves last year. We needed to kick start this garden area so we could get it planted ASAP!

Watch below 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.

Turn Your Sod Into A Garden in 7 Easy Steps

  1. Cut the grass as close to the earth as possible
  2. Till up the ground
  3. Dust a small layer of compost
  4. Add a carbon layer
  5. Add compost
  6. Add a layer of mulch
  7. Water each layer as you go

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. 

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. 

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.

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.

Add compost

Next, we add about two inches of compost on top of our carbon layer to really enrich this plot of land. In How to Make Compost the Easy Way – Composting 101, we teach you how to make your own compost.

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 of 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!

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. 

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