Have you heard of a 'lasagna garden?' It's a phrase coined by gardener and writer Patricia Lanza, but it is a technique that has been around for a long time. Lasagna gardening is a method of creating a garden using a system of layered materials. The goal is to create a rich, loamy soil by using a balance of compostable materials. Those materials can be nearly anything that will compost, including newspapers, cardboard, leaves, grass clippings, peat, kitchen scraps, coffee grounds and many other potential materials.
The first step for creating a lasagna garden is to layer the ground with a weed-blocking material like thick pieces of cardboard. When you layer the cardboard you don't have to remove the sod because the cardboard will smother it, and the vegetable matter underneath will eventually compost. Just make sure not to leave any gaps in the cardboard pieces for the sod to grow through.
After layering a sod-smothering layer, begin alternating your materials. The important thing is that you use a balance of green and brown materials. Green materials are fresh and contain more nitrogen while brown materials contain more carbon. By alternating these materials you create a balance. Materials like fresh grass clippings, coffee grounds or fresh manure are examples of green materials. Brown materials can be newspapers, cardboard, leaves or wood ash.
Continue alternating the layers between green and brown for as much material as you have. The pile can get quite high depending on how much material you have to work with but will break down as the pile composts. As you go, water each layer to help speed up the composting process. It also helps to keep the newspaper in place on a windy day!
When lasagna gardening you don't have to dig or till a garden, which is one nice advantage over other gardening methods! The soil forms over time and is essentially a raised-bed garden. This makes it a great way to fill raised beds. Another advantage with a lasagna garden is that it uses waste materials to make compost. Rather than taking cardboard and newspaper to the dump you are putting it to work for your garden.
Because the lasagna garden materials are alternated in a way that balances the composting process, you can go ahead and plant in the lasagna garden. Lasagna gardening also is very economical, which makes it a great way to keep your garden budget low!