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How to Smother a Lawn Ahead of Spring Planting

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Already dreaming of expanding your garden next spring? You can get a head start by preparing a new planting area where you currently have lawn. This method is sometimes referred to as sheet composting or lasagna gardening. Here are the basic steps:

Cardboard covers grass; compost and shredded leaves cover cardboard.

Cardboard covers grass; compost and shredded leaves cover cardboard.

1. Mark off the shape of the new or expanded bed with spray paint or edging.

2. In late fall, cover the grass within that area with a layer of thin cardboard, brown paper bags or a few sheets of newspaper. Wet the layer well.

3. Cover the cardboard or paper with a generous heaping of compost, shredded leaves or a combination of both. Water this layer well, which will help it stick. If you're still mowing other areas of lawn, you can add the grass clippings and additional shredded fallen leaves as the season progresses. 

4. Wait over the winter. Dream, plan, order plants, start seeds.

5. At spring planting time, you should be able to simply dig right into your new planting area. There's no need to remove the layers; just plant through them.

Image credit: natural flow/CC BY-SA 2.0 

Recommended reading:

Dive deeper and learn other methods of gardening without disturbing the soil in Charlie Nardozzi's book The Complete Guide to No-dig Gardening.

Find an easier, effective alternative to building raised beds with Jim and Mary Competti's Raised Row Gardening.