Sheet Mulch Info: How To Use Sheet Mulching In The Garden

sheet mulch
Image by fireonthehill

By Anne Baley

Starting a garden from scratch can involve a lot of backbreaking labor, especially if the soil underneath the weeds is made of clay or sand. Traditional gardeners dig out the existing plants and weeds, till the soil and amend it, then start to put in plants for landscaping or food growing. There’s a smarter way to do this, and it’s called sheet composting or sheet mulching. What is sheet mulching? Keep reading to learn more about sheet mulch gardening.

What is Sheet Mulching?

Sheet mulching involves the layering of organic materials – similar to lasagna gardening. Different layers of ingredients are placed on the ground in layers, much like building lasagna in a pan. The layers turn the existing weeds into compost and add nutrients and soil amendments to the dirt underneath, while allowing a first year’s planting to start your garden. You can save time and effort by using sheet mulching when converting a grassy space into a new garden bed.

How to Use Sheet Mulching in the Garden

The key to sheet mulching is in building up the layers to create a complete compost heap in one flat space. You accomplish this by layering materials with different chemicals to offer, such as nitrogen or potassium. Start the process by removing as much of the old grass as possible. Mow the yard at the closest setting, and remove the clippings unless you have a mulching setting on your mower.

Top the grass with a 2-inch layer of compost. Add the compost until you no longer see any grass blades. On top of the compost, layer the grass clippings and more green waste to a depth of 2 inches. Water this well, until the entire bed is soaked.

Cover the green clippings with a layer of newspaper or cardboard. If using newspaper, make it about 8 sheets thick, and overlap the sheets so that the paper completely covers the entire garden bed. Sprinkle water on the newspaper or cardboard to help keep it in place.

Cover the paper with a 3-inch layer of compost. Cover this with a 2- to 3-inch layer of wood chips, sawdust, chopped tree prunings or other other organic mulch.

Nestle larger plants or smaller seedlings in among the mulch. The roots will grow down through the mulch and grow well in the compost below, while the compost and clippings underneath the paper will break down the grass and weeds, turning the entire plot into a well-drained, moisture-retaining bed.

That’s it. Quick and easy, sheet mulch gardening is a great way to grow gardens organically and is a common method applied to permaculture gardens.

This article was last updated on

Related Articles
Did you find this helpful?
Share it with your friends!
Additional Help & Information

Didn't find the answer to your question? Ask one of our friendly gardening experts.

Do you know anything about gardening? Help answer someone's gardening question.

Read more articles about Soil & Fertilizers.

Search for more information

Use the search box below to find more gardening information on Gardening Know How:

Newest Articles
  • firespikes Firespike Plant Information: How To Grow Firespikes
  • sea-rocket Sea Rocket Information: How To Care For A Sea Rocket Plant
  • scaredy-plant Growing Scaredy Cat Plants: Coleus Canina Plant Repellent
  • petunia-bloom Petunia Not Blooming: How To Fix Petunia Plant With No Flowers
  • compost-maggots Dealing With Flies In The Compost: Should I Have A Lot Of Flies In My Compost?