LHITS Gardening Step #4: Lasagna Gardens

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Welcome to the INTERMEDIATE gardening lessons!


Why is this intermediate?  Because it assumes you already know that you’re gardening again NEXT YEAR.  One cannot install a lasagna bed today and expect to plant seeds tomorrow. It takes months to break down to that level.  So, this type of garden is best for NEXT YEAR’S garden expansion.  The one exception is perennials.  You can use this method to install beds for perennial berry shrubs, dwarf trees, and other woody edibles.  But again, most beginners start with tomatoes, not figs.

BTW, Lasagna Gardening is a propriety term for a certain kind of SHEET COMPOSTING.  But nobody calls it “sheet composting” any more than you call a Kleenex a “facial tissue.”


In Step #4, you’ll learn how to use:

  • How to eliminate the wheelbarrow and compost IN next year’s vegetable bed
  • How to install a new bed for today’s perennials
  • How to use it this year for seeds….if you must
  • And again, how to steal from friends and neighbors to get even more free beds

So, let’s get started!

Isn’t Lasagna complicated?

Nope.  Like regular composting, it’s a glorified mess of trash.  It’s just a THINNER, WIDER mess of trash.  You can’t really mess it up.  You put in it basically the same things that you would put in a regular compost pile.


  • Grass Clippings 
  • Leaves 
  • Weeds (not gone to seed) 
  • Manure 
  • Straw 
  • Newspaper or junk mail
  • Spent blooms, trimmings from the garden
  • Bags of grounds from coffee shop…love those!
However, unless you want your neighbors to see what you had for dinner last night, you will need a pile of leaves handy to bury the following:
  • Fruit and Vegetable Scraps
  • Coffee Grounds
  • Tea leaves and tea bags


Here’s the HOW TO:

1.  Define your area with string or flour.

2.  Mow it down really low.

3.  Lay down cardboard and newspaper, or at least ten sheets thick of newspaper.

4.  Wet it.

5.  Layer on some of the things listed above, including compost and peat if you have a bunch lying around.

6.  Get it at least six inches deep, a foot is better.

7.  If you want to be all technical about it, layer something “brown” like leaves, sawdust, straw, paper, in between layers of “green” (food, grass, weeds, etc.) to prevent gooky-ness.

To see this in action, check out TL’s huge lasagna garden here. You can also see this post on how I built my asparagus beds and this post on TL’s latest mandala garden. 

So why can’t I plant directly in there?

That’s a good question.  You can.  But you can’t SEED in there.  Why?  There’s no soil yet.  In order to expose enough soil for seeds to germinate, you’d have to peel back so much of your blanket that all the grass you just covered would come back to life.

Alternatively, you can do all your layers, and then dump a bunch of peat and compost on the top, at least six inches deep, to give your seeds something to hold onto.  In that case, you are really just building raised bed, like in Step #1, but treating your whole lasagna like one big, fat, nutrient rich, weed blanket, that will break down slowly over the next year.

You mentioned woody perennials.

You can, however, plant a woody perennial before you start your layers and lasagna around it.

OR, you can push back your layers, install a woody perennial, lay down some new paper so that only the stem is sticking through and then scoot everything back up around it.

If you, like me last year, are installing a permanent perennial bed that you intend to do nothing further to, go ahead and mulch on top of all that and call it DONE!

If you haven’t already…

1.  Go see our post about how not to transport bags of leaves in the back of your station wagon.

2.  Go read out post about speeding up the composting process with with the lawn mower.

3.  Brainstorm ideas about where you can get big bags of trash for your garden…Starbucks, dead things from plant nurseries, rotten produce from the grocery, the bean shellin’ machine at the local farm supply store.

And don’t forget to:

See Our Book

Available at Amazon, and on Kindle
Barnes and Noble, and on Nook 


Beginner gardening series:  1)Beginner Garden in a Day, 2)Composting, 3)Alternative Beginner Gardens

Intermediate gardening series:  4)Lasagna gardening, 5)DIY mixes and solutions, 6)Indoor seed starting

Advanced gardening series: 7) Succession planting 8)Companion planting 9) Permaculture

BONUS: 10)Extra Credit DIY



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