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Sheet Mulching — Break Up with Your Lawn

Published: 13 May 2022

More than two thirds of all household water waste take place outside of the home on landscaping, and lawns are the biggest culprit. With California now in its third consecutive year of drought and warmer, drier weather on the way, now is an important time to remove your thirsty lawn for good.

If you want to turn your lawn into a water-smart garden, you need to start from the ground up. Compared to physically removing your lawn, sheet mulching is one of the easiest ways to start. Sheet mulching is less expensive, less work, and does not use toxic chemicals to convert.

So What is Sheet Mulching?

Sheet mulching is the process of composting your lawn in place. It combines soil improvement, weed removal, and long-term mulching all in one action. By layering these materials appropriately, you can remove your water-consuming lawn and build remarkable soils in just a few years. It is a simple, no-dig way to remove your lawn, that requires no hauling off green material to a landfill.

Getting started is easy! Just follow these steps:

  1. Mow or cut your lawn as short as possible and leave the clippings where they fall.
    Reel Lawn Mower Cutting Grass
  2. Water the lawn thoroughly to start the decomposition process.
    Water Sprinklers Watering Lawn
  3. Spread compost materials like manure or leaves on the ground. Avoid creating thick layers and make sure to get a good carbon-to-nitrogen ratio.
    Person Scooping Manure Out of Wheelbarrow
  4. Install a layer of cardboard over the entire area. Make sure you overlap the barrier, so weeds do not surface.
    Cardboard Stacked on Lawn
  5. Once you have your weed barrier down, add your mulch (wood chips). This layer serves as the final barrier that will enable decomposition.
    Person Pouring Mulch on Ground
  6. Finally, add your plants or seeds to your new sheet mulch bed.
    Area of New Sheet Mulching

Although the western United State is facing a severe drought, all Californians can take small steps to save water for our state. Converting your lawn to a water-smart garden helps California save water and create a sustainable future.

Looking for more ways to create a water wise garden? Learn more tips and tactics for converting your lawn.