Sheet Mulching: Easily Turning Lawn Into Gardening with Matia Jones

Sheet mulching can transform your barren lawn into a lush and feculent veggie garden. Quickly.

I love sheet mulching. It is the easiest and fastest way to create new garden space on top of sod, without enormous amounts of tilling.

Simply choose a spot in your yard that gets good sun, isn’t near any major pollution source, and will be easy to tend and water. Mow the area as short as you are able, lay down pieces of clean cardboard, then cover the cardboard with a couple inches of mulch. Next cut holes in the cardboard where you want to plant veggies. In these holes, dig out the sod and shake all the soil out of the roots and back into the hole (the soil in the root zone has the richest microbe population and nutrient profile- don’t toss it). Add a shovel of compost and thoroughly mix it with the soil. Plant your veggie starts, water well, and tada!

When I’m starting a new garden bed, I almost always sheet mulch the first year. This saves me many hours of hard digging, amends the soil, and allows me to still grow produce in this new space. My favorite veggie to grow in newly-sheet-mulched beds are squash. They only require a square foot or so of soil amending but will extend their graceful tendrils up to 12’ in all directions. (If you don’t have this kind of space, choose bush varieties) I’ve even used this technique on a full half acre of farmland as I was rehabbing it. The process adds much needed carbon to the soil, gives beneficial microbes food, suppresses weeds, reduces evaporative loss and the need to water, and is very tidy.


  • Cardboard:  Remove tape and staples and use pieces without glossy printing
  • Mulch:  Grass clippings (from a non-toxic lawn), leaf litter, straw, or purchased mulch are great
  • Compost:  A small amount is needed for amending immediate planting sites
  • Vegetable starts: Squash are my favorite and can be planted in June, cherry tomato starts are also a good option this time of year.

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