Friday, May 1, 2009

Sheet Mulching

I think that getting the puppy finally made Jose and I realize what a dump our yard has been, so we've spent a lot of time the past few days clearing all the junk out of the back yard. It looks so much better and I'm not paranoid that Scout will eat something toxic or step on anything sharp anymore! It's given her a lot more room to play around and it's definitely more inviting for us as well.

After tackling the back yard, I decided it was time to do something about the front. I got the front halfway done months ago, but never got around to doing the rest. So today I decided to finish cleaning up the front and to try something new. The front still had a patch of weedy, crab-grassy lawn to deal with, and since it's so hard to get rid of crab grass, I decided to try sheet mulching.

Sheet mulching, basically, is adding a layer of stuff (usually tons of newspaper paper or cardboard) directly on the ground and then covering it with mulch or dirt. This works to create a physical barrier to block weeds from coming up. It cuts off light so weed seeds can't germinate and prohibits existing weeds from resprouting. And since we have a ton of cardboard boxes laying around and other paper trash, I decided to use those. We also dug a lot of dirt out from under the house while we were working on the floors, so that's what I used for the final layer. It turned out pretty well and looks so much cleaner. I'll have to wait a while (a few weeks??) before planting anything in it to give the weeds time to die, but at least now it's much closer to being ready for planting.

Step one: I cut the weeds back, but didn't bother trying to pull them out.

Step two: I started layering cardboard boxes, paper, and newspaper, covering the area as thoroughly as possible. I think everyone passing by thought I was crazy for spreading trash all over the front yard!

Step three: As I layered, I watered the boxes to make them soft.

Step four: After layering with as much cardboard as I could find (the more the better), we began piling on loads of dirt and spreading it out.

Step five: After spreading out several inches of soil, I watered it in thoroughly to compact the new layer. Then we added decorative rock cause, well, we have a ton and we need to use them somewhere!

The finished product. I actually added the rocks along the sidewalk because there is a slight slope and I was worried the new layer of soil would wash off. The small boulders were brought up by my dad a while back. They'll look more natural once we get some plants around them.


Maria said...

Wow, it looks great! Can't wait to see the planting, it's coming together. What a great idea to use sheet mulching, I think I will this technique in my yard too.

Molly said...

Nice! You're going to go crazy waiting for the sheet mulching to kill the crab grass. Good thing you have the vegetable garden in the back to keep you distracted.

Amy Carter said...

do you leave the cardboard there forever, or remove it when you're ready to start planting?

Ashley C. said...

Amy, the cardboard stays where it is. Eventually it will just decompose. When you plant stuff, you have to cut through the cardboard to the dirt below, but it's pretty easy to do when it's we and falling apart.

Nedra said...

I am laughing now seeing that cardboard and paper......we used old carpet squares that we pulled out!! It worked great! Just a little crab grass has resurfaced! But that part of the yard is now hopefully we have seen the last of it!