The problem: your lawn is hurting, the grass is dying, and pernicious weeds seem to sprout up at will. The surprising solution: turn that ailing patch into a sod-top garden, no tilling required.
Sod-top gardening is a simple, eco-friendly way to begin growing vegetables, herbs, flowers, and other plants right in your own yard. It involves placing layers of newspaper and compost over grass to create a new foundation for plant growth. Over time, the grass and weeds underneath die, turning the covering into rich, friable humus in a matter of months.
While traditional soil tilling can be labor-intensive and polluting (if using a gas-powered tiller), this method is much easier and non-invasive, so earthworms and other organisms that enrich the soil are not disturbed.
Sod-Top Garden How-To
- Mow the ground at your chosen site. Cut anything to the ground that you don’t want in the garden, such as weeds or tall grasses.
- Soak newspaper in warm water. Lay wet paper on the ground, six layers thick. This is your barrier that keeps the grass and weeds from invading your new garden.
- Top with layer of compost four to six inches in depth; you can also use soil or composted manure, if that’s what you have.
- If desired, wait several months before planting for newspaper covering to turn into nutritive humus.
- Plant vegetables, herbs, flowers, or bushes of your choice.
- Use an organic fish emulsion or seaweed for extra nutrients.
- Water, and place decorative rocks around the edges, if desired.
Tip: It’s best to build your sod-top garden in the fall so that the soil will be nutrient-rich and optimized for planting in the spring.