Lasagna Gardening 101

I plan on redoing my back yard…it has a lot of weeds! I am so grateful for the information I learned about this method! Instead of digging up the existing lawn, and tilling the soil, I plan on using this method to redo my back lawn. I was wondering how many layers I should do to keep the weeds from coming through? JMW (via email)

Starting a lasagna bed:

The initial layer over sod or weeds should be either 10-12 sheets of newspaper or cardboard layed flat. I have used both. Generally I choose cardboard when the area is flat and use newspaper if I am attempting corners or mounded areas. When using newspaper avoid glossy ads and inserts. Pizza boxes are a great cardboard source.

To ensure that grass or weeds do not come through, overlap the newspaper and cardboard to avoid "cracks" and tuck newspaper under any mounded sod. By this I mean sod that has been removed from one area and turned over in a bed to create a burm. Alternately you may choose to cut back a weed area or sod about 1" from a sidewalk or other hard surface. I did cut back a 1" barrier around my parking strips so that I could "tuck" the paper and cardboard fully to the edges.

Here are a few pictures from my yard last fall to help illustrate:
Once the area is prepared with cardboard and/or newspaper you begin adding alternating layers of "brown" and "green" layers. All composting is comprised of these layers added in equal volume.

Here you can see grass clippings, a green, added to one of the beds.
Here you can see the fall leaves raked to the lasagna beds.
This earlier post contains a list of green and brown material for reference. The color of the material does not determine whether it is a "green" or "brown." Green are high in nitrogen and browns are high in carbon. An internet search should provide you with a good printable list for reference.

If you are looking to create your lasagna bed quickly ask your neighbors for their fall leaves and/ or grass clippings - I have never been turned down!

It is also recommended that you add a layer of bulky material such as twigs or branches to help aerate the pile. Our Christmas tree boughs were used in one of the front parking strips.

Ideally you would begin this process in the fall, but if you begin sooner just help the process by "watering" the bed until mother nature takes over. All of our beds were then covered with 3 or more inches of microbial mulch to give them a finished look.

If you are planning to plant directly into the bed before the material has fully broken down, as we did with some transplants, use potting compost around the plant to ensure proper root development. The lasagna bed will take 6 - 9 months to fully break down depending on the materials you use and diligence in layering and keeping it moist.

This photo shows a bed with some postting compost around transplants, and chipped material from when we had the tree in the backyard pruned.

All composting requires four basic ingredients:
Browns—Includes materials such as dead leaves, branches , twigs
Greens—Includes materials such as grass clippings, vegetable waste, fruit scraps, and coffee grounds
Water & Air