Setting Up Your Garden
The No-Dig Method
This no-dig method is a simple & effective way to quickly turn lawn into garden with minimal materials, cost & labor. We've used this technique in many gardens over the years. You can plant right away and have a bountiful garden your first season. Check the Resources Page for the awesome book that explains why this method is so effective.
3 Simple Materials: Cardboard or newspaper as a barrier from the grass, compost for the planting beds & woodchips or dried leaves for paths.
The cardboard should be plain brown, no glossy coating. Remove any labels, tape or staples as well. Newspaper works well too - it takes more time (smaller sheets) and you need 4 layers of thickness covering the whole garden.
Order compost and get it delivered - you'll need more than you can buy in bags! Be sure to order compost and not topsoil. Topsoil is more likely to contain weed seeds that will leave you cursing this whole experiment mid-season, has less nutrients for your plants, and is basically scraped from land who-knows-where. Compost is created from nutrient-rich organic materials like fruit, veg & leaves.
Order enough compost & woodchips for an 8-12" layer over your cardboard/newspaper (see Compost Calculator below). Check with your local municipality for these materials. We are able to get woodchips and shredded leaves delivered to our house for free, so it's definitely worth asking.
A Note on Fencing
Got deer? We certainly do, and bunnies, so we know this issue all too well. If you regularly have animals in your yard, trust us, you will want to put up fencing as part of your garden. They can eat your hard work overnight.
You can get as fancy as you want, but to keep costs down we use simple t-posts and wire fencing with hardware cloth or chicken wire around the bottom.
Materials: Fence posts for the perimeter, fencing materials like steel welded wire, 2' hardware cloth or chicken wire, t-post clips and landscape staples.
Let's Do This
Start with your fencing.
Set your corner posts first (leave space for a gate!). Tie a line along the edges and add the other posts at 6' or so intervals. Attach the welded wire using the t-post clips.
When your perimeter is complete, roll out the chicken wire/hardware cloth and fold it in half lengthwise. This will go around the outside of your fence in an "L" shape - half the height against the fence, half on the ground outside the fence. This will prevent bunnies, etc, from burrowing under your fence. Secure with landscape staples. Your grass will grow right up through this, so you won't notice it at all.
Fill in your beds & paths.
Lay down your cardboard/newspaper in an overlapping layer so as not to give the grass cracks to grow through. Start from the far corner of your new space and work forward, creating bed then path then bed then path as you go, this way they hold each other up.
Lay the cardboard/newspaper base as you go. If you do it all first it may tear from the wheelbarrow running back and forth to dump materials or also shift on you in the wind, leaving you chasing the old comics pages down the block.