Don’t Just Kill Your Lawn, Compost It

by Julie Orr on July 28, 2010

When it comes time to remove or reduce your lawn there are three standard methods to choose from. First you could remove the lawn manually with a sod cutter or sharp shovel. As you’ll notice I said the word ‘manually’ because it is just that- hard manual labor. Unless you are hiring a professional, the sod cutters for rent aren’t always that sharp and you need to have a lot of strength and push very hard to get results.

The second method, I don’t even like to mention, but unfortunately some landscape professions are still using a chemical kill. This means that they use toxic chemicals that are so strong, they not only kill your lawn but all the good organisms and healthy mycorrhiza that live in the soil. In short, don’t do it. It’s not worth your sacrificing the health your family and pets, yourself or your soil.

So that is why I started using the third method called sheet mulching or lasagna composting. Not only is it all organic but many of the ingredients can be obtained for little or no money. I also like this method because I am lazy. In other words, I can do this process once and it’s done and I don’t even have to break a real sweat!

With in one day with two people, we sheet mulched all 850 square feet of our front yard. As a homeowner, here are the steps I suggest you take:

  1. Rebate. Before you do anything to your alive, green lawn, check with your local municipal water department to see if you may qualify for a lawn removal rebate.
  2. Gather materials. You’ll need 3 basic items: manure or compost, cardboard and mulch. Click here to read more about where to find these materials.
  3. Prepare the site.
    1. Mow the lawn on the closest setting possible.
    2. Take a sharp shovel or pick  and edge around any hardscape that the lawn comes into contact with. You can use this extra sod to make a berm (a raised area of earth).
    3. Remove any items that may get in the way like lights, drip irrigation tubing and rocks. Save any reusable items for later use
    4. Compost you lawn
      1. Lay out about 1-2 inches of compost or manure on top of lawn and water it in well
      2. Add a layer of cardboard and overlap  each box about 25-50%. Designer tips: have the brown side up since it camouflages best with the wood mulch
      3. Add water again until the cardboard is soggy
      4. Add 2-3 inches of wood mulch
      5. Finished!
        1. Just remember to keep your new ‘compost area’ watered well. It should have the consistency of a damp sponge.
        2. In 3-6 months your lawn will be composted into the most gorgeous, friable, earth worm infested soil.
        3. Plant your new garden and enjoy.

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