Mother Earth Living

Garden Soil Preparation Techniques: Sheet Mulching and Double Digging

Start a new garden with two easy soil preparation techniques! Transform a bare yard with sheet mulching, then increase productivity with double digging.

“Urban Homesteading” is a must-have handbook for city folk with a passion for the simple life. Readers will find concise how–to information that they can immediately set into practice, from making solar cookers and growing tomatoes in a pot to raising chickens on a tiny plot and maintaining the mental serenity of country life in the fast–paced city environment.
Photo Courtesy Skyhorse Publishing
Sheet-mulching is a layering of compost, cardboard, and mulch over a lawn or other area in preparation for making a garden. Sheet mulching harnesses the power of worms and composting microorganisms in the soil. Cardboard keeps the light out to kill the lawn or weeds underneath; worms eat through the cardboard to get to the compost, turning and conditioning the soil as they go, thus doing most of the hard work for you.
Illustration By Marco Aidala
Getting ready to sheet mulch the lawn at a public park.
Photo By Trahten Heckman/Daily Acts
Piling on the cardboard over the first layer of mulch goes quickly when done in community. This front lawn was sheet mulched in less than three hours by this homegrown guild.
Photo By Trathen Heckman/Daily Acts
The double digging process enhances soil tilth and productivity by creating open space in the soil for downward root growth. Once your bed is dug, avoid stepping directly on it, as that compacts the newly aerated soil.
Illustration By Marco Aidala
Once you've sheet mulched, shape and form your beds as needed. This entire yard was sheet mulched after cement was removed and soil was amended. Bringing fresh compost, mulch and straw to the site created these garden beds.
Photo By Erik Ohlsen

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