How-To’s of Sheet Mulching
1. First things first, clear the way. You will want to cut all grass and weeds to the ground in your sheet mulch area. Leave these trimmings on the ground — this material will decay and provide food for decomposers. Also transplant any plants you would like to save.
2. Lay down cardboard. Cardboard is always the first layer of sheet mulch. You can also use newspaper, though you will want to thickly layer multiple sheets. In either case, make sure the material overlaps, so no weeds crawl through. You will also want to remove a shovel’s width of grass and weeds from the curb, sidewalk, or edge of your bed. This will prevent weeds from growing out beneath the cardboard. We also recommend covering the cardboard with jute net if you are sheet mulching on a slope. This will help the cardboard and net stay in place, preventing sliding or erosion. Use landscaping staples to fix the jute net and cardboard into the ground.
3. Moisten the ground. This is like a wake-up call to existing decomposers and will help the cardboard break down faster.
4. Compost, Manure, Compost, Manure, Mulch! Like we said, there are many different sheet mulch recipes out there. The good news is that all of them add to your garden! OSU Extension has a great resource that breaks down the basic elements of sheet mulch and what they add to your garden.
Some of your decisions will be based on the materials you have access to. Have a lot of compost? Use it! Is there a big, beautiful chip drop in your driveway? Toss it on! Other decisions will be based on context and preference. For instance, we recommend a thicker sheet mulch when removing lawns or dense weed pastures.
5. Wait it out. Like we said, sheet mulch is a passive process, and it takes time for these materials to decompose. Temperatures will inevitably affect the rate of decomposition. In winter we tend to wait 4 to 6 months until planting, while in Summer we may plant as early as 3 months out.
If you want to see this process in action, check out this link to our sheet mulch video.
That’s it! Sheet mulch is one dream away from a summer garden. As always, feel free to call ANNIEBAM if you have questions, we’d love to help enrich your landscape.