What is Lasagna Gardening?
Lasagna gardening is an organic gardening technique that is a form of raised bed gardening. Originally made popular by Pat Lanza in her books on lasagna gardening, it can be used regardless of the condition of the soil in your area. Can you guess how this method works by it's name? Of course you can! There are layers of materials that decompose to create an organic soil for your vegetables and flowers.
The basic approach is to form a bed by adding multiple layers of organic matter one over another, in a fashion similar to the technique used to make a pan of lasagna, which accounts for the name of the technique.
Advantages to Lasagna Gardening
There are several good reasons to try lasagna gardening:
- Reduced Water Needs - Raised beds can have the drainage tailored to needs, and the constant mulching helps retain water, as does the close spacing of the plants.
- Fewer Weeds - The mulch helps keep them down, and the closer spacing of the plants shields them from the sun, keeping them down as well.
- Increased Productivity - This is basically a type of intensive gardening, so the yield per square foot will be well above an average garden. Most raised beds are more productive because there is no space wasted for footpaths, and the garden doesn't get trampled so the soil is looser and the aeration of the soil is much better as well.
- Reduced Fertilizer Needs - With the constant addition of organic matter, the soil just doesn't need as much fertilizer.
- No Tilling or Spading - This is a no till technique, with the soil being constantly rejuvenated by the addition of layers of organic material.
- No-Dig Gardening - is a form of lasagne gardening. This is the method of building up the soil leaving valuable microbes undisturbed and working for you.
- Eliminate Work - do you like stripping sod, pulling weeds, digging the soil? This method changes the way you prepare your garden big time.
Making a Lasagna Garden - Hold the sauce, please
The basic steps to making a lasagna garden are simple and flexible, as there is no one "right" way to do it.
- Identify a spot for the garden. The condition of the soil is not important, as you will see. Mark the area, and outline it with string if necessary.
- Do not till the sod. Simply cover the soil and grass with a layer of newspapers, making sure they overlap to keep the previous plants covered. A layer of five or so pages thick should do. Avoid the slick magazines.
- Cover the newspapers with a layer of 5"-6" of peat moss, straw or hay.
- Add a 2"-4" layer of organic material or compost, you can even add grass clippings (if they haven't been treated with an herbicide or weed killer) but it's good to add some dry material along with that, such as shredded leaves, to keep it from creating a slimy mess.
- You can also alternate these layers until your pile gets to the desired thickness.
- Water it until it's like a damp sponge.
- After that you can place your plants, and you are lasagna gardening!
Good Green Thoughts....
"Gardening adds years to your life and life to your years." - Anonymous
"Free" Layering Materials - They're Out There!
- No leaves in your yard? We hunt the area for bags of leaves in the fall by driving the neighborhoods, looking for a huge pile of bagged leaves and tossing them in our truck! We then pile them up in our yard to use in the composting process (in addition to our own pile of leaves!)
- No grass clippings? At Christmas time, look for free Christmas tree recycling programs where they mulch the trees and give it away free to the community, usually first come first serve. Remember, you need green and brown layering!
- No cardboard? Head to the local grocery store and ask for some cardboard boxes that they are getting ready to recycle, especially smaller and longer sized boxes that have no other recycling use.
- No newspapers? Ask neighbors to collect their papers and donate them to you. Send your kids to the neighbors house with wagon in tow to bring the newspapers to you. (Maybe you can share some of the produce you grow in the garden with them for their contribution!)
North Richland Hills, TX
The city of North Richland Hills, Texas, has a Christmas tree recycling program. They announce the dates they will be accepting dead (live) Christmas trees and put out two big receptacles for citizens to deposit their tree in. Then they use a giant shredder to shred the trees. The shredded material is placed in a 3rd receptacle and people are allowed to just pull their truck right up to the storage container and shovel out shredded material. All this is done in an effort to be more green - there is no profit for the city. A great program!
Lasagna Gardening "How To" Video
This video shows a great example of the layering needed to start a lasagna gardening and they site several resources of organic material.