Sheet mulching can be a gardener’s best friend. It’s a wonderful way to kill weeds, get rid of your lawn and even just protect existing plants. Keep reading to learn how and when to use this technique.
We already know that mulch can protect your soil, keep plant roots insulated, conserve water and keep weeds down. What’s not to love? Sheet mulching is basically extreme, thick mulching. This is a technique where the gardener applies multiple layers of thick materials on top of the soil. A gardener may choose to sheet mulch for any number of reasons:
- To kill a lawn and transform it into something else.
- To create a thick barrier against weeds.
- To keep the roots of trees and other plants cool, moist and protected.
- To create new soil for planting in the future.
How to Sheet Mulch:
There are many different organic materials you can use. The goal is to layer them, like lasagna, and allow them to slowly decompose over time. One of the key ingredients is a layer of paper- usually newspaper or cardboard. Cover the area thickly with layers of paper, overlapping so that nothing underneath shows through. This is especially important if you are trying to kill grass- you want to keep it from reaching the sunlight. After you lay down thick layers of paper, you can add green and brown organic material on top. This could be lawn clippings, dead leaves, and other yard debris. Just be careful not to put in whole weeds, as they may regrow. On top of that layer, you can add a few inches of a more traditional mulch to top it off and make it look nice. You may choose bark chips, straw, compost or all of the above. The choice is yours! Many different materials will work for sheet mulching. The key is to layer them thickly.
One word of caution: If you are sheet mulching around existing plants, leave some space around the base of the plants exposed (as pictured above). This will allow for water and air to still penetrate the soil to the plant’s roots. This is especially important for fruit trees.
Sheet Mulch Kits: In partnership with Waste Management and StopWaste.Org, Evergreen has put together a sheet mulch kit available for delivery from the nursery. Each package covers 200 square feet and includes a double layer of cardboard, a one-inch layer of compost and three inches of natural recycled wood mulch. With a full landscaping department, Evergreen can even come in and complete the task for or with you! $120 plus delivery.