...of the lawn, that is! So tonight I got started on my sheet-mulching project. Here are a few photos. (Sorry about the fuzziness of some of them, good old camera phone :)
STEP 1: Mow lawn! Leave the clippings on the lawn to encourage organisms who like to decompose.
STEP 2: Add lawn clippings from backyard, add bone meal, and water. Water will have a hard time getting through all the layers, so best to soak the ground now.
STEP 3: Cardboard and sprinkler. This will kill the grass. Or rather, it will cause the microscopic organisms and bugs to convert the grass into useful topsoil!
STEP 4: More grass (aka the nitrogen-rich layer of my in-place composting). It will also encourage those little critters to munch through the cardboard to reach the juicy stuff up top.
STEP 5: Old hay (aka the carbon-heavy part of the compost). Had I an option, I would prefer to use straw since it's seed-free. I plan to hopefully get enough cardboard to cover up the hay so that no weed seeds infiltrate my new garden. At least not right away. On top of the layer of cardboard will go as much compost as I can rustle up!
Sheet-mulching is so interesting to me, because it's basically just composting in place. The theory is that the sheet mulch slowly decomposes to make a fantastic base for your plants. It's organic, fairly weed-free (unless you use hay!) and WAY cheaper than topsoil. And instead of adding a landscaping fabric or other material that renders the current topsoil useless, I will now have that much more lovely soil in which to grow my plants! And it will be made that much better because the mulch will attract all sorts of soil-amending critters.
I need to get a lot more materials though. This took up almost an entire bale of hay, 5 bags of grass (plus what we gleaned from the backyard this evening), and a LOT of cardboard. I will need to put the rest of the lawn on hold until I can rustle up some more compostable materials!