Last Updated on January 20, 2022
If you are new to gardening, you may not be familiar with techniques like tilling the ground and digging for certain types of drainage.
In that describes you and your gardening talents, a simple method to use is called lasagna-style planting. This type of gardening is often referred to as layer gardening.
We’ve created a guide that we like to call lasagna gardening 101. It is a condensed and easy to understand overview of this layer gardening technique.
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- Lasagna Gardening 101: The Basics
- Benefits of Using This Method
- Where to Place Your Lasagna Garden
- Materials to Use for Your Lasagna Garden
- How Can You Care for Your Lasagna Garden?
- How Long Until Lasagna Gardening Produces Results?
- Is There a Down Side to a Lasagna Garden?
- Lasagna Gardening 101: Conclusion
Lasagna Gardening 101: The Basics
If you’re wondering what a lasagna garden is, consider an actual lasagna. The idea is that it’s a dish made up of multiple layers of ingredients.
There’s sauce, noodles, meat, and cheese in this dish. You lay down a new layer of each component every time until you reach the top of the pan.
The same method is used in a lasagna garden, also known as sheet composting. You have lasagna garden layers with various “ingredients” for planting on top of one another. After you’ve finished building your lasagna garden, you won’t have to dig up the ground.
It is an easy way for beginners to learn to grow their food using a lasagna garden bed as a foundation.
Why would we layer material in this way? It is a centuries-old practice of layering organic matter on top of the soil. These materials for the lasagna layers include:
- The first or bottom layer, which will be some type of newspaper or cardboard
- Green materials which contains nitrogen. For the green layers, think about grass clippings, coffee grounds, or even animal manure. If you have kitchen scraps those are great, too.
- Brown organic materials which contain carbon. Brown layers include material such as straw, sawdust, mulch, peat moss, or even dried leaves will work.
Essentially, you’re creating a large composting area. Not only will your plants benefit from the nutrients available in compost, but you’ll also get rid of yard and garden waste.
Lasagna gardening is a simple method that doesn’t require a lot of attention and upkeep. You might, however, want to create a frame for your garden, or even make it in some type of container. There are many ways to create this environmentally friendly layered garden!
Benefits of Using This Method
There are several benefits to using the lasagna bed method.
First, you can create a lasagna garden at any time of year. So if you are having a mild winter without frost, but you aren’t planting until spring, go ahead and start creating the basis of the garden.
Another benefit is that you are using up a lot of yard waste and food waste that would otherwise have gone to the garbage, as well as other materials that frequently end up in the trash can or dumpster. It is like an automatic recycling system that also helps with your gardening efforts.
No Tilling Up the Soil
As you know, tilling up soil is hard work. It requires careful digging in order to get rid of all of the weeds and grasses. Not only is it difficult but it can also cause erosion once you dig up that ground.
Create a Beautiful Garden that is Functional
Lasagna gardens are beautiful to look at. These gardens can be enjoyed for both their appearance and functionality.
This technique is especially useful if you don’t have a lot of free time to maintain your yard.
Lasagna gardening is very low maintenance, not like a traditional garden. You simply have to layer the materials, water your garden and let it work its magic!
Where to Place Your Lasagna Garden
Now that you have your materials gathered, where should your lasagna garden be placed? The best place is in an area that is dedicated to your garden. It doesn’t have to be too large, but it should be in an area that you can easily reach with ease, including the ability to water it.
One thing to note is that there might be some odor from the decomposing materials in the lasagna garden, so be aware of the placement as it relates to your home and potential open windows!
Your selected spot should also see the sun every day, with about six hours being optimum.
Keep in mind that lasagna gardening works great with containers, too. You could even use this gardening method on balconies or decks too!
How large should the lasagna garden be?
This depends on how much space you have. If it is a smaller garden, then two feet by three feet should be enough room. Larger gardens could go as large as five to six feet by seven to eight feet. The possibilities are endless with lasagna gardening!
Materials to Use for Your Lasagna Garden
Now you’re probably wondering what materials go in these lasagna garden layers. Our friends at miracle-gro have a simple and easy-to-understand illustration of the layering involved, perfect for our beginners at lasagna gardening 101.
In general, aim for brown layers that are at least twice as thick as the green layers, up to three times as thick. You’re creating a fertile garden bed and ultimately, rich garden oil with these layers.
Before beginning to create your lasagna bed, mow the area as low as possible. Save the clippings to use in your layering as long as they don’t have seeds in them.
Layer #1: The Foundation
You start with a base layer of wet newspaper or cardboard, and you want it to cover the entire area. This layer will help to get rid of existing weeds or grass under it.
Layer #2: The Carbon Layer (brown)
This is the layer that will include carbon-rich materials, and you’ll probably be able to find most of them in your own backyard.
Dead leaves, straw, sawdust, mulch, peat moss, and pine needles are some examples. Avoid using anything that has seeds, though.
Layer #3: The Nitrogen Layer (green)
This is the layer that uses grass clippings, coffee grounds, scraps from the kitchen, eggshells, used tea bags, even animal manure
Layer #4: Brown Layer
Refer to the list above to repeat for the carbon layer.
Layer #5: Green Layer
Once again, repeat the green layer as you build your lasagna garden.
When your garden is about 18 to 24 inches in height you should be good.
You might want to place mulch over the top of your lasagna garden
How Can You Care for Your Lasagna Garden?
Once your lasagna garden is created, the only thing you have to do is maintain it.
Continue to refresh the layers using the same materials and ratios as detailed above. Be sure to get rid of weeds, and don’t forget to water.
As you move to a new growing season, add layers as needed.
How Long Until Lasagna Gardening Produces Results?
Lasagna gardening is a great way to grow your plants, flowers, fruits, and herbs.
What should you expect in the first lasagna garden year? Realistically, it takes at least 6 months for the garden bed to be ready for planting, maybe longer. It depends on the type of material used as well as weather conditions in your area.
You can tell by looking at the lasagna garden and seeing the fresh earth that is ready for planting. And, you’ll be able to smell that aroma.
If you create your lasagna garden in the fall and wait until spring to plant, it should be ready.
If you can’t wait that long, be sure to add at least three inches of garden soil on top, and plant in that. Your plantings will not benefit yet from the nutrients that have yet to be developed, but you’ll be able to use your lasagna garden.
Is There a Down Side to a Lasagna Garden?
It depends on how particular you are about the appearance as well as your neighborhood restrictions. As mentioned above, you might want to create a frame for your garden bed to enhance its looks.
Keeping the garden bed moist is very important. This helps the layers break down into the fertile soil you want. So, it does require some effort.
If you use kitchen scraps, make sure to cover them well or they can attract critters. Make sure to thoroughly cover with a brown layer.
Lasagna Gardening 101: Conclusion
Lasagna gardening is a great way to create an environment where your plants can grow and flourish. It is low maintenance and enjoyable to look at.
Whether you are just thinking about getting a lasagna garden started, or already have a lot of gardening experience under your belt, this technique can be beneficial for you, your family, and the environment.
If you are ready to create a lasagna garden in your backyard, these helpful resources could become your best friend!
So now you know what lasagna-style planting is and how to go about doing it. Keep in mind that this technique can be used at any time of year, so if your gardening plans are on hold because of the weather, don’t let that stop you from getting started.