Two hour new garden bed....for newbies

wendy2shoesApril 23, 2009

Thought I would share the process I went through this afternoon to make a new bed. Mine is intended for veggies, but this will work for wintersown flower sprouts of any description.

First, using an edger, cut out the edge of the bed. Toss the cut out chunks into the centre. (You can cut them up a bit or stomp on them).

Next, lay down cardboard, and layers of newspaper to your outline. I had to use rocks to hold this down, 20mph winds today.

Wet it all down. Add grass clippings, leaves, compost whatever. I mowed the back yard and threw the stuff on top.

Top it off with topsoil, triple mix, rotted manure, whatever. (I had a yard left from last year).

I used rocks around the perimeter to contain the soil, and hold down the cardboard edge. The whole thing should settle down and the worms start doing their work after I get back from seeing the grandkids for a week.

You can plant new sprouts directly into this new bed. I just won't be around to do it.

Waaayy easier than removing sod. The grass composts quickly, and provides great nutrients for your new bed!

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WHOA!!! Come on out to Delaware and make me one. Fantastic!


PS: I always seem to make these projects larger than life. You know, like clear the calendar for three days, count on ordering out for dinner, etc. You do it in two hours!

    Bookmark   April 23, 2009 at 7:05PM
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I'm 58. It would probably take a 30 year old 20 minutes!

    Bookmark   April 23, 2009 at 7:45PM
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Way to go Wendy! It looks great! Are the rocks real or homemade? what are you going to plant in there?
How big is the bed? I am impressed and inspired...8-)

    Bookmark   April 23, 2009 at 8:02PM
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I normally make the rocks from hypertufa, but pressed for time this spring, I just raided the beach (Lake Ontario). Bed is about 7' by 4'. I'm doing veggies in the front yard this spring..two huge walnuts in the back make a challenge for both sunshine, and the havoc that juglone (chemical released by black walnuts) does to my previous attempts.
Just going for tomatoes, zukes, and cukes.
(To heck with the neighbors).

    Bookmark   April 23, 2009 at 8:30PM
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friesfan1(5b NW-KS)

Love your new bed. I wanna see pictures of your
summer flowers in that bed!


    Bookmark   April 23, 2009 at 8:44PM
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kqcrna(z6 SW Oh)

Nice, Wendy.

I agree on your method. I wouldn't make a new bed any other way any more.


    Bookmark   April 23, 2009 at 9:16PM
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Wish making a bed was that easy here, but when you have bermuda grass, covering it up just doesn't work. You have to dig out every little piece, THEN do what you suggest, and be vigilent at keeping it from crawling in from the sides.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2009 at 9:20PM
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Well Poop, soonergrandmom, just googled bermuda grass. Glad I'm north of the 49th! What a lot of work! I have to deal with something we call "farmer grass" here, but since all herbicides and pesticides have been banned, I don't care what's growing in the lawn, as long as it's green and I can mow it!
I still physically remove dandelions and thistles, but would rather have a no mow front yard anyways.
I really like the 'xeriscaping' look that they do in Arizona. Rocks, pebbles, and native plants.
I'd do that in a heartbeat here!

    Bookmark   April 23, 2009 at 9:40PM
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A year and a half ago I made a lasagna bed like that. It just happened that I made the bed in the fall and let it sit all winter. I planted in it the next spring and grew great flowers all summer.

Last winter I mulched it with a thick coat of leaves. I dug down into the bed the other day and took a look at the soil. I now have the prettiest blackest dirt in that bed. Which is great for me, because I have thick, clumpy clay dirt normally.

This spring I am starting a new bed, and planting directly into it for the first time.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2009 at 3:08AM
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proudgm_03(6 MO)

Wow, two hours! I'm impressed. Come visit me and do mine! :) With my health problems that would take me two months.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2009 at 6:55AM
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If wish that were true in all cases!
That works great if you don't have to contend with quack grass in you lawn. I don't care what you put over top of's coming back! Tried it. When making a new bed I have to spend hours digging and removing quackgrass overrun sod making sure each and all pieces of the root are removed from the soil. Yeah, the last thing you want to do is till...each piece makes a new plant!!
The rhizomes are so tenacious that they will eventually come up through payment :O

    Bookmark   April 24, 2009 at 8:11AM
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Wow! That looks great! I may have to give it a whirl.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2009 at 8:29AM
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terrene(5b MA)

Great pics! I agree that lasagne is the way to go and it is especially easy when you're dealing with plain old sod.

Unfortunately, I usually have to deal with a weedy overgrown mess with lots of woody invasives first. :( So I dig out, weed wrench, or cut down the larger shrubs/saplings, sometimes mow down the rest as low as possible, sometimes dig out roots, sometimes clear out rocks, and/or other odd things to make the area reasonably clear. THEN I do the lasagne layers. And usually have to let it sit 6 months to a year for the weeds to die and some of the roots to start to decompose.

But I have been amazed at how enriched the soil becomes and how well things grow.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2009 at 9:03AM
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leisa_in_md(z6 MD)

How deep does the soil/stuff on top of the cardboard have to be to plant anything? I've been thinking of doing this, but I'm afraid the plants won't have enough room to grow.


    Bookmark   April 24, 2009 at 9:04AM
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Very nice!!

How thick was the soil? Does not look very thick. I have some hard to dig up grass and this would be so much easier


    Bookmark   April 24, 2009 at 9:24AM
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floodthelast(5 N. OH)

Beautiful job Wendy, I am hoping to do something similair for my annuals this year.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2009 at 9:46AM
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rosebush(z7 NC)

Way to go, Wendy! BRAVO!!!

    Bookmark   April 24, 2009 at 11:03AM
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stage_rat(5--Indiana Riviera)

A very nice technique and explanation!

The comments have helped make me grateful for whatever weedy grasses I have in my yard. Some have runners, and some form a huge clump and won't die easily under lasagna or bricks, but it's not that bad, compared to the other stuff.

To those who will try this method, make sure the grass chunks are upside-down, or well-buried by dirt. If they're not, they'll grow through a couple of inches of dirt, and you'll have extra work trying to get grass out of your flower bed. Ask me how I know that :)

    Bookmark   April 24, 2009 at 12:25PM
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This is a great place to put HOS (hunks o'sprouts), because the roots are about as long as the thickness of the soil, or shorter.
The roots will hit the cardboard at about the same time the cardboard decomposes. The sod is well on it's way to compost, (decomposing anaerobically), and things just grow on from there.
I've done this three years in a row, and never had issues with grass growing through the cardboard. Sometimes a bit at the edge gets through, where there was an open seam, but I just yank it.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2009 at 1:00PM
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token28001(zone7b NC)

It's the same method I used on all my beds. Just finished enlarging the white beds this morning. My composted leaves are about 8" deep right now. With a little rain and watering, they'll shrink to 3-4" over the summer. By next spring, they'll be at the same level as the surrounding soil. I'll be adding composted and shredded leaves every year to rebuild what shrinks. No more digging, except in nice black soil.

I'm direct sowing castor beans here for instant privacy this summer.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2009 at 2:24PM
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beatrice_outdoors(6a MA)

WOW, all your pictures are awesome. I just borrowed the book Lasagna Gardening from the library, and now get to see it in action. I don't have enough material to start one right now, but will this year. Can you really plant immediately into the layers if you want to? I may plant this fall for next year.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2009 at 2:55PM
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token28001(zone7b NC)

Depends on what medium you use. My composted leaves are nearly dirt. I wouldn't plant directly in a bed build in the traditional lasagna bed method with sticks and twigs, etc. I would wait through the winter. But if you can use good compost over cardboard and layers of newspaper, you can plant the same day.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2009 at 3:17PM
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mary4b(4b WI)

For those who have mentioned grass (quackgrass, crabgrass, lawn grass) growth problems to this method, I have a miracle cure! Quackgrass has been the bane of my gardening existence. It has overridden my gardens and beat me many times. I agree with others, some grasses will come right up through that whole lasagna bed as soon as the cardboard/newspapers start to decompose. Actually, it will even poke right through it.
Well, after re-doing so many beds, I finally found a's Ortho's Grass-B-Gon. This product can be sprayed ON an existing garden (roses, veggies, perennials, shrubs, etc) and it WILL kill any grasses, but no broadleaves. It sometimes takes 2 applications, but I sprayed with a heavy trigger (pent up anger) and saw that quackgrass brown and dying within the week. New growth that comes up from roots underneath, give it another spray. I started this 2 years ago and all of my beds are nearly free of quackgrass. Since, it's in my lawn, it does get into the beds, but a confident squirt or two and I know that it can be stopped, or at least severely stunted. Grass-B-Gone can be hard to find, many Big Box stores don't have it. I found it at Walmart and I think I saw it for 1/2 again more at an ACE Hardware. I stocked up when I saw it last, buying about 4 spray bottles. Guess what? The problem is so under control, I still have 3 left from last year! It does say on bottle to avoid freezing, which I did not do, so I sprayed some grass the other day and am waiting for the browning. Lastly, this product will kill ALL Grasses. Therefore, I have decided that I am not going to plant ornamental grasses in my gardens. I love the ornamental grasses, but I don't want to worry about killing them when I have to treat an area.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ortho's Grass-B-Gon Review

    Bookmark   April 25, 2009 at 7:10AM
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I'd like to jump in here and give my 2 cents worth. . .
I heard/read about this method three years ago. I live in a rental and there were no flower beds here when I moved in. I did this technique using cardboard, leaves and top soil in five different places to make "easy beds". It was so much easier than digging up sod and then having to haul it off somewhere. My five beds are all perfect, rich dark soil, no return of grass to speak of and I even put it over an area that was mostly pesky morning glory (abnoxious weed) and to this day the MG has never returned. I did plant in it as soon as I had the beds complete. And it's true, by the time the roots hit the cardboard, the cardboard had broken down. Then in the fall I toss my last cutting of grass clippings on them and it gives it a good start come spring. Yep, I'll be addin more beds this season as well.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2009 at 2:34PM
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mnwsgal 4 MN(4)

I have used the lasagna method and the instant bed method to make new beds. Works great. Yesterday I finished a new bed but I dug up the grass/sod because I am planting this bed with ornamental grasses and didn't want to take the chance of having other grass growing in with them. Then I covered the soil with newspaper and shredded leaves and mulch from the city yard site. Next week I will get some coffee grounds to add then another layer of shredded leaves and another layer of mulch. LOL, I need the weekend to rest my weary, aching body. Also, I try to limit gardening on weekends to spend some time with family.

With my first instant bed I found I had some grass growing up through the turned over sod. The solution was to mulch thickly, no more grass problems.

Sod mixed with shredded leaves makes great mulch and by fall I will have enough to make another bed.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2009 at 6:23PM
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mayberrygardener(z5a, Broomfield, CO)

Readin your post was almost eerie to me--I am about 3/4 way through my library's copy of lasagna gardening, too! There are so many great tips and ideas that I am seriously considering adding this one as a permanent member to my own reference collection. For those that have the problems with the grass, I can relate but on a different scale: bindweed runs amok in Mayberry, and has a particularly lovely soiree in my yard every summer. Based on what I have read, if you really use the full 24" of stuff that the writer recommends, then you should have little problem with grass growing through, but here is my newbie question: how in the heck does one keep 24" of layers neat on the edge? I realize that it will "cook down" a bit, but I want nice edges to mine and will need to do the 24" thick layers for the area that I want to cover because of the charming mallow that currently resides there and has no idea it's about to be smothered... That, and the fact that the area is up against the fence on the downslope from the neighbor's yard and their landscaping rocks are starting to poke through.

Thanks so much for the review of Ortho's grass-b-gone, Mary; I have some that has crept in around some roses, and I just wasn't sure if I was going to have to dig up my roses to get rid of the grass. I'll be sure to try this first!!

    Bookmark   April 25, 2009 at 9:43PM
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ladycraft(6b MO)

I am going to try this. We have alot of rocks so hate to try to dig. How deep is the soil that is on top of the cardboard? If I use several layers of newspaper will it work as well? Thanks Kathy

    Bookmark   April 29, 2009 at 7:05AM
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stage_rat(5--Indiana Riviera)

Mayberrygardener, one of my lasagna beds/piles got to close to 2 feet high. The pile definitely has to taper at the edges, unless you build an actual wall. I have flat 6"x 10" or so pavers that I leaned against the pile edge, allowing it to be a little taller and stay neat-looking. If you're trying to smother something right up to the edge of the lasagna bed, you could put a strip of something impermeable where the materials won't be as deep, like pavers. Some people use old scrap carpet for that, while others are concerned about the breakdown products. Mother Earth News recommends old carpet in the garden, so it may be just fine.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2009 at 2:10PM
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I just wanted to add my plan is to do this method with 2 areas in the back corners of my yard. They both have phone and cable boxes and are unsightly. Plus I do not want to dig much there due to cables etc.

It is a slight slope so I wonder if it will work for me?

as soon as I have the $$ I plan to buy compost and topsoil and do my own 2 hour beds....

Also, I might just grow something simple like lots of sunflower seeds this year so I can have quick growth etc....


    Bookmark   May 26, 2009 at 11:56AM
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burry(7 Maryland)


A thick layer of newspaper will work just as well as cardboard. In fact the woman who wrote the lasagna gardening book says that she now just uses newspapers, but I can't remember why.

I did three large beds last summer layering and layering. I got tons of corn husks from the grocery store, shredded paper, grass clippings, leaves, and barn litter. I thought it would never become "dirt," but this spring I'm ready for all my little seedlings.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2009 at 9:27PM
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Thank you, thank you, thank you for reminding me about lasagna gardening! I've gone crazy with seed buying and really wanted to start many new beds, but living on a hill (with lots of weeds) and having a 56 year old, worn out, body I didn't know how.

I've got lots of newspaper and can get leaves at the county landfill. I'll be hunting for rocks to hold back the dirt everywhere I can.


    Bookmark   April 6, 2011 at 11:08AM
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Bumping this up for those who may be wondering where to put their seedlings. Easy peasy garden bed.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 6:31PM
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