Creating "No-Dig" Bed

jockewing(9a)May 3, 2013

I live in S. Louisiana just north of Lake Ponchartrain from New Orleans. I have decent topsoil, but lurking only inches underneath is some of the slimiest gray clay you've ever laid eyes on. I also have some large oaks around the periphery of my backyard, so roots are everywhere and the combo of the clay and roots makes digging a nightmare.

I have an area previously used as a vegetable bed that has excellent soil from years of amending. Currently it has a newly planted Meyer Lemon tree. I would like to expand this bed to make a large kidney shaped bed for roses, daylilies, and other perennials. It has literally rained in excess of 6 inches here in the past week, so digging this weekend is really out of the question. I was able to dig a trench along the outline of the bed last weekend before it started raining. This has brought me back to the idea of lasagna or no-dig gardening.

I had previously done this over several years in an area along my fence riddled with tree roots. I put down newspaper and always dumped my grass clippings, leaves, etc. in the area and am amazed how great the soil turned out in this spot. My concern is, I did this slowly over several seasons--I've never planted directly into a "fresh" no dig bed before. Can it be done successfully?

I have some newspaper and cardboard to make a thick bottom layer, and I have a local horse stable that will fill a pickup with as much composted manure as I can handle for 20 bucks plus inexpensive bales of hay. I have no trouble finding grass clippings around the neighborhood, and I can imagine everyone's grass will have grown quite a bit with all the rain we've had.

How should I go about building my bed, and is it really possible to plant directly into before "cooking"? I already have a lovely potted Belinda's Dream pink rose (supposed to be an excellent rose for Gulf South) ready to go. And in your opinion, can a lemon tree be a suitable addition to an ornamental bed?

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TXEB(9a)

My only comment is about the lemon tree - I have 4 Meyer lemons planted in landscape beds. I think they are beautiful. The one issue, as you probably know, if left to their own devices they can get a bid wild looking. Judicious pruning will take care of that if it is important to you. You might also consider Satsuma, which will probably do well in your area. I live about 50 miles south of Houston, so I appreciate your native soils and the recent rain. This spring has been really unusual.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2013 at 10:33PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

Pat Lanza, who wrote the book on Lasagna Gardening, built her first Lasagna bed and planted in it right off. No reason you could not do that too.

Here is a link that might be useful: Lasagna Gardening 101

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 6:15AM
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Raw_Nature(5 OH)

This is what I do:

-lay a layer of cardboard/newspaper/leaves, whatever to smother the lawn

-ontop of that add your soil/compost

-mulch

-plant

Talor it to your situation. Its easy, straight forward and effective!

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 10:10AM
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gardenlen(s/e qld aust)

lots of options, use what is readily available.

len

Here is a link that might be useful: lens bale garden

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 4:12PM
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Demeter(z6 NJ)

I wouldn't use a lasagna bed for perennials. A lasagna bed is essentially a large compost pile, and we all know how a compost pile will eventually vanish if left alone as all the organic material breaks down. The process is slow enough that it's not going to bother annuals, but unless you keep replenishing the material and carefully packing around the base of perennials, their roots will eventually be left exposed as the lasagna bed breaks down. Perennials that do not like to have their roots disturbed would not do well in such a situation, although perennials which need to be dug up and divided regularly can just be replanted.

Additionally, piling up six inches or more of composting materials around the base of a tree could damage the bark.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 12:08AM
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the_virginian(Zone 7 NoVA)

I created 85% of my planting beds using card board and newspaper over the grass and then added lots of compost, leaf mould, hardwood mulch and then pine straw. My bananas and palm trees love it and the worms and other critters tilled in all the organic matter for me. My soil is red clay and now it looks almost black as I add material every year for about 7 years now. People can not believe that it was never roto-tilled.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 8:44AM
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achang89(Z6)

I have Pat Lanza's book with me now. To me, Lasagna Gardening is another type of container gardening.

If you have a lot of fully decomposed compost, then do it. The yield will be likely high. The cost is also high since the compost will decompose quickly and it is not using real soil.

I can hardly save any compost. Most of my yard/garden stuff has been returned to the soil. I do not want to buy any soil or compost.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 10:25PM
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