Saturday, May 26, 2012

The War Against Weeds

While I love gardening, I hate weeding. Which is probably why I hardly ever get around to it. I know I should. I make plans to. But somehow never get around to it. That is why I love sheet mulching. That is right sheet mulching. I started sheet mulching 2 years ago and it has changed my life.

Sheet mulching involves laying down a sheet of a solid, but biodegradable, material like newspaper, corrugated cardboard, or burlap (I like cardboard). This material must be water permeable and should block light. It needs to be biodegradable so over time it will feed the soil.

Here is the cardboard layer. I am sure the neighbors love this look!

You then cover this with mulch (this year I used free wood chips from the city). During the growing season it will smother weeds and deprive them of light. It will also slowly break down and build up your soil. An extra bonus is that you help keep materials out of land fills.

Here is the finished product!

I have found this works much better than mulch alone. I have weedy grasses in the garden that laugh at regular mulch, pushing it aside to grow tall. With sheet mulching they cannot push through the cardboard, are deprived of light, and die a slow death. Bwaahahahaha!!

That is the good part of sheet mulching. The bad is minimal.  You do have to plan ahead and accumulate enough of the material you use for the bottom layer. I collect big boxes from work and grocery stores for weeks in preparation to sheet mulch.  Not difficult, you just have to plan ahead.  Second, weeds do still pop up in places where boxes meet (and I do not do a good job of overlapping them).  They also thrive around the edge of the garden.  This, however, is a heck of a lot less weeds than I would have if I did not sheet mulch.


  1. I love gardening, but hate weeding as well. I used thick layers of newspaper and straw for my rows this year. I'll put them in the compost bin after the season.

    1. I really do this in the summer. Our heat and humidity breaks everything down so quickly that there is little left. I just push wood chips to the side when it is time to plant in the fall and rake the few that are left to the edge of the garden when I till in the spring. There is almost nothing left. In the fall I pile on fallen leaves for mulch.


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