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.

| February 2012 Web


Getting ready to sheet mulch the lawn at a public park.

Photo By Trahten Heckman/Daily Acts

Across the country, city dwellers are taking part in the urban homesteading movement by ripping up their lawns and installing food-producing gardens. In Urban Homesteading: Heirloom Skills for Sustainable Living(Skyhorse Publishing, 2011), authors Rachel Kaplan and K. Ruby Blume explain how two gardens soil preparation techniques, sheet mulching and double digging, can transform a bare yard into a new garden with great yield. This excerpt is taken from the Chapter “Urban Dirt Farmer.” 

Two Methods of Garden Bed Prep: Sheet Mulching and Double-Digging

There are many ways to start a garden, even on a spot that has never been gardened before. If you have a patch of bare land, or a bit of lawn, you can reclaim and redesign it as a food, herb or flower growing landscape. Sheet mulching and double-digging are two methods for reclaiming the land for growing. They tend to the soil in different ways but don’t think of them as an either-or proposition. Sheet mulching can be used to quickly transform a lawn or bare yard in a garden. Double digging can be used subsequently to increase the yield and productivity of the garden. Using both methods will be the most thorough way to prepare whatever soil you’ve got.

Sheet Mulching

The front lawn must go the way of the dodo. No longer will we spend our time in submission to the manicured lawn, wasting water and energy. Turn your lawn into your lunch! Sheet mulching reclaims the lawn with an organic “lasagna” of cardboard, compost, and mulch. This is a low-effort way to create a garden bed while adding fertility to the soil. You can do this project in an afternoon with some friends.

Easy Sheet Mulch Recipe 

elderberry, echinacea, bee hive


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