The Case of the Shrinking Lawn

existing lawn

Existing Lawn

My lawn is shrinking, my lawn is shrinking!

Oh happy day.

We’ve been tossing the ‘lawn/no lawn’ ball back and forth for a while. We’ve reached a compromise and split the difference. Half the lawn in our back garden remains. The other half will convert to native perennials. I’m pretty excited. This change will reduce water use and attract native species to the garden.

After trying to dig up the lawn in our sidewalk strip last year, I learned it’s a slow and arduous task. I gratefully hired Nick to finish the job.

Imagine how thrilled I was when I read Diane’s post Undoing Three Years of Procrastination.  She explains a method known as sheet mulching, recently implemented in her own vast and beautiful Ontario garden. Instead of digging up the lawn, you apply layers of soil, cardboard,compost and mulch. They gradually decompose, and at the same time kill the grass, leaving rich, organic soil in its place.

Here are the instructions Diane used from Goodbye Grass, Hello Garden

Sheet mulching—a simple technique that involves layering cardboard, compost, and other organic material over the turf—kills the grass and leaves behind beds with rich soil. A considerable amount of organic debris goes into the bed construction, so stockpile plenty of autumn leaves, composted manure, and garden waste before beginning. Beds that are sheet-mulched this fall will be ready to plant next spring.

sheet mulching

Sheet mulching ingredients

Last weekend I did a big yard clean up and created two small  piles of organic debris. This morning I brought home about a dozen free boxes from a local market and we got to work.  We ran out of ‘ingredients’ before finishing, but made a good start.

garden sheet mulching

Half way there

I emptied both of my composting bins as a base layer, then transferred soil from the summer vegetable beds. That was enough to cover about half of the area. We added the layer of cardboard and then covered it with decaying leaves, pine needles and other organic matter.  Once I gather additional cardboard and organic material to finish the rest of the area, I’ll buy mulch for the final layer.

Thanks for the inspiration, Diane!