Convert Your Lawn to a No-Till Permaculture Garden


| 6/29/2016 12:54:00 PM


flowers and vegetables in garden

When we bought our homestead, the only gardening area was at the bottom of a fairly steep hill. Though fine for growing a winter’s worth of potatoes and squash, it’s less convenient for greens, which we harvest daily in the summer and so prefer to grow close to the house. With this in mind, we decided to turn part of our front lawn into a garden.

Having read about a method called "lasagna gardening" (named for its layers; learn the basics here), we decided to try it. Egged on by its success, we extended the garden the following year only this time incorporating hugelkultur techniques. Here’s how we did it.

Step 1: Smother the Lawn

Our initial effort involved trying to dig out the grass. But with only shovels, we found the process arduous and ineffective. The grass roots were so thick we had the impression of digging wire. After several hours, we’d managed to uproot a few square feet of lawn. No doubt we left roots and seeds intact.

So, instead, we decided to smother the lawn. We began the process four summers ago by placing large sheets of cardboard onto the area we wanted to smother. (Our source of cardboard was the dumpster, but if dumpster diving doesn’t suit you, a large-appliance store may have boxes to spare.)

Step 2: Add Layers of Brown and Green Organic Matter

We tucked compostable kitchen scraps including organic coffee grounds and loose-leaf tea under the cardboard. We piled rhubarb leaves, comfrey leaves, weeds and other organic matter from the garden on top.



Next, we hauled wheelbarrows full of leaf mold and other composted material from the garden and dumped it onto the cardboard. Fortunate to have a ditch full of rich soil, we hauled wheelbarrows full of that as well. Each time we mowed the remainder of the lawn, we added grass clippings to the heap. We also added composted manure from our hens.

CHARLOTTEB
2/11/2018 2:31:09 PM

I have three small vegetable beds (about 7'x7' each) in my front yard since it gets sun most of the day. I was able to put one small bed in the back yard, but the huge pecan tree there shades most of that area. I fed my neighborhood with the tomatoes I grew in one of the front yard beds, and was able to take a sliced cucumber to work every day all summer. I put edging stones around the beds and a 24" chicken wire fence around them to keep my cats out. I painted the 2"x2" fence posts to match the trim on the house. I kept it neat and no one complained. I've already planned what I'll put in each bed for this year and I can hardly wait to get started!


Cindi
2/9/2018 8:33:48 PM

Great info. We have 15 acres and Ive been panting my 1 acre garden for several years now using my chicken coop material and what I get from their run and put it in the garden over the winter along with the leaves and sticks that I rake up with my auto sweeper (love that thing). Had not been seeing very many earth worms over the last couple of years and was getting concerned about my soil. Last year I had the local mushroom grower deliver me a dump truck load of compost. I put it in my garden and used the tractor to rake it all through the garden. Everything was looking great, great growth on all veggies that was planted. Before it came time to harvest the last of my southern peas, these vines with little small looking melons all over them and other weeds that I have never had in my garden in the last 10 years!!! I'm so frustrated with that, it had to be from the compost that I got because its the first time that I did that. Now my garden plot that I've been using seems ruined because it got completely out of control with all of these new weeds and vines. I don't know what to do with it now. I been putting cardboard, leaves, Pinestraw, hay from the chickens, what ever I could get to try and smother the weeds out. I am thinking about burning it while it is dried out now and then run the tractor through it afterwards and keep doing that until its time to plant for the spring. But I'm in North Florida so that will not be very long from now. If anybody has any advise on how to get rid of these weeds and vines, please I need help. Ive always planted as organic of a garden as I possible can only using compost, manure, and organic granulated fetilizer and natural remedies that Ive found for pest (sometimes works, sometimes not) but I would rather do it like that and let some go to the bugs. HELP!


Cindi
2/9/2018 8:32:40 PM

Great info. We have 15 acres and Ive been panting my 1 acre garden for several years now using my chicken coop material and what I get from their run and put it in the garden over the winter along with the leaves and sticks that I rake up with my auto sweeper (love that thing). Had not been seeing very many earth worms over the last couple of years and was getting concerned about my soil. Last year I had the local mushroom grower deliver me a dump truck load of compost. I put it in my garden and used the tractor to rake it all through the garden. Everything was looking great, great growth on all veggies that was planted. Before it came time to harvest the last of my southern peas, these vines with little small looking melons all over them and other weeds that I have never had in my garden in the last 10 years!!! I'm so frustrated with that, it had to be from the compost that I got because its the first time that I did that. Now my garden plot that I've been using seems ruined because it got completely out of control with all of these new weeds and vines. I don't know what to do with it now. I been putting cardboard, leaves, Pinestraw, hay from the chickens, what ever I could get to try and smother the weeds out. I am thinking about burning it while it is dried out now and then run the tractor through it afterwards and keep doing that until its time to plant for the spring. But I'm in North Florida so that will not be very long from now. If anybody has any advise on how to get rid of these weeds and vines, please I need help. Ive always planted as organic of a garden as I possible can only using compost, manure, and organic granulated fetilizer and natural remedies that Ive found for pest (sometimes works, sometimes not) but I would rather do it like that and let some go to the bugs. HELP!






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