Lasagna Gardening

by Polly

173-050-01m_resized400x266jpgLasagna Gardening is a timesaving organic gardening method developed by gardener and writer, Patricia Lanza, which requires no digging, no tilling and no sod removal.

It’s a “lazy raised bed” that drains well and warms up quickly in spring.

The name “Lasagna,” comes from the way garden beds are created from layers. It is exactly the same way you layer ingredients when making a pan of lasagna.

The lasagna layering method quickly builds soils that are rich in nutrients. Weeding and watering are reduced through the heavy layers of mulch and by planting crops close together.

What Makes It Different?

Thick layers of organic mulch are the main ingredients of every lasagna garden. Anything you’d put in a compost pile, you can put into lasagna garden. The materials you put into the garden will break down, providing nutrient-rich soil in which you plant. Individual materials will vary in each garden according to what is at hand.

The following materials are all perfect for lasagna gardens:

-grass clippings, leaves, weeds( if they haven’t gone to seed),
-fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds,tea leaves (tea bags),
-manure, compost, seaweed, shredded newspaper or junk mail
-pine needles, spent blooms, trimmings from the garden, peat moss,
-straw, hay, sawdust, wood ash.

How To Make a Lasagna Garden

Just as with edible lasagna, there is importance to the methods you use to build your lasagna garden. The first layer involves laying down something heavy over sod; like thick pads of newspaper or flattened cardboard boxes, to kill the existing grass. The second layer should consist of 2 -3 inches of water absorbent material like coir or peat moss.

I recommend coir because of the growing environmental damage caused by extracting peat moss from bogs. The next layer, a 4-8 inch layer of organic material, such as compost, that you need to spread over the coir layer.

You’ll want to alternate layers of “browns” such as fall leaves, shredded newspaper, peat, and pine needles with layers of “greens” such as vegetable scraps, garden trimmings, and grass clippings.

In general, you want your “brown” layers to be about twice as deep as your “green” layers, but there’s no need to get finicky about this. Just layer browns and greens, and a lasagna garden will result.

What you want at the end of your layering process is a two-foot tall layered bed. It is desirable to chop material (browns and greens) as small as possible.  So, they break down quicker.

If there are a lot of fall leaves in your lasagna garden, they should be shredded. Otherwise, they take a long time to break down.

Finally, the tops of the piles may be sprinkled lightly with bone meal and wood ash for added phosphorus and potassium. You’ll be amazed at how much this will shrink down in a few short weeks.

Planting a Lasagna Garden

2658119085_27e608fdabjpgWhen planting a lasagna garden, no digging is required. For transplants, simply pull back the layers of mulch, drop in the plant and pull some mulching materials back over the roots.

Sowing seeds is easy, too.

Sprinkle a little finished compost over the area you want to plant, sow the seed, and cover it with a little more of the finished compost. Press down on the bed to secure the seeds and water thoroughly. It’s that easy!

To maintain the garden, simply add mulch to the top of the bed in the form of straw, grass clippings, bark mulch, or chopped leaves. Once it’s established, you will care for a lasagna garden just as you would any other garden. Weed and water when necessary.  And, plant to your heart’s content.

Want to know more?

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Yours truly for a great garden with outstanding veggies and flowers.

Polly-organic gardener

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah ...MissVibrant March 19, 2009 at 11:25 pm

Hi Polly! I am so happy to find your organic gardening blog! I am rather new to gardening – only a few years. I love your approach with the Lasagna Gardening! I am so excited to try it! I have a few spots in mind to start with and can’t wait to give you more feed back as I try it out! Be blessed! – Sarah aka, Miss Vibrant

Nicole April 6, 2009 at 8:49 pm

I currently use the *lazy* composting method. I have pallets forming a big square and just leave it to cook each year. In the fall it’s all black and crumbly and I add it to the garden again. I wanted to buy one of those compost tumblers – the fancy double door ones, and just might. I know I won’t turn it EVERYDAY but it will look much neater in the garden. It’s funny, I was just telling my hubby, since I’m not a glittery girl, I’d be happier if he bought me something like that than a piece of gold! :)

Rachel May 5, 2009 at 5:17 am

Polly thanks for sharing such your wonderful information – I’ve just started a lasanga garden and was wondering if what i’ve done sounds right- for the green/nitrogen layer i have used some fresh grass clippings, a mix of mulched grass clippings and mulched leaves also some horse manure and fresh kitchen scrapes, then for the carbon dry layers i’ve mainly used dry grass clippings and autum leaves.. it seems my lasanga garden is mostly made up of grass clippings – fresh, dry and mulched.. does this sound ok?? If anybody has advise or tips i’m keen to hear them.. thanks I’m into it!!

Tim May 5, 2009 at 1:01 pm

Any green animal manure has to age before you plant. If it smells, it’s “hot” enough to burn the roots. Using green manure means you are starting a compost action for 6-8 months BEFORE using it for plants.

And, the big thing about animal manure is that you don’t know what chemicals were in the animals feed. This is a big, big issue in England right now. Seems the wrong chemicals were in the animal feed. And, it’s causing plants to shrivel up and die.

Yes, Rachel, thank you for asking. And, thank you Polly for such a nice blog. Love your pictures.

Why don’t you tell us about slug control?

Rachel May 5, 2009 at 6:17 pm

Thanks Tim for your comments.
I only used one layer of animal manure, the first layer, as i wondered about what the animal might have been give – antibotics etc.. the manure seems dry – to the consistency of loose soil.. i guess i won’t use it any more though.. thanks for your comments :-) happy gardening

Melia Doward May 1, 2010 at 7:52 pm

Hey! Just had to leave a comment. I thoroughly loved this article. Keep up the great effort.

Jerlene Klebanoff May 11, 2010 at 4:58 pm

What a site! Keep it up guys!

Lorraine June 5, 2010 at 11:40 am

Thanks for posting that it is okay to plant seeds. I was reading ALL over that i could not plant seed, only plants. I have compost and will prep my planting space with that first. YAY, here i go

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April Scott October 12, 2010 at 9:55 pm

I really want to use coir in my lasagna garden instead of peat, but I cannot find anyone who sells it in a large quantity. My garden is 600 sq. ft. I am in central Ohio (Columbus). Do you have any recommendations or sources? Thanks!

backlinks November 20, 2010 at 8:39 am

Interesting idea. Could you elaborate a little bit more?

April Scott November 20, 2010 at 2:58 pm

Coir is the more ecologically sound alternative to peat moss. Apparently harvesting peat moss is detrimental to the environment. While coir is not a perfect alternative, it’s harvest makes less of an impact on the environment. Anyway, I was unable to procure any b/c of the cost. I ended up using shredded leaves. The leaves will not hold water like the coir or peat moss, but I hope it all turns out OK. We shall see come Spring. I am happy to hear any input you might have.

Amy March 11, 2012 at 11:44 am

Hi, I have a question. I had this empty area in my yard. It used to be covered in grass and it was about 8 inches lower than the concrete driveway beside it. I put a layer of cardboard, some grass and dried leaf clippings then dumped some mulch (shredded tree debris). I think i dumped about 4 inches or maybe more of mulch in there. My first intention is to smother the grass and weeds, and also to create my lasagna garden. I think i did the wrong thing by putting too much mulch. I was intending to put some more layers of organic materials in there to elevate it some more. My question is, do i need to remove the mulch i dumped in there then add my layers? In this situation, what should I do to make this a suitable planting ground? Will appreciate any help please, i’ m a first time gardener and obviously dont have a clue on what im doing. Thanks.

Polly March 11, 2012 at 6:34 pm

I’d put some more layers of organic material, especially on the top.

Amy March 11, 2012 at 7:15 pm

Thanks polly, greatly appreciate it.

Dawn March 13, 2012 at 4:49 am

I am converting the area of my yard that belonged to my dogs into my garden area. I didn’t get started in the fall so I feel like I’m playing a little catch up. I’m planning on using a thick layer of newspaper, peat moss, grass clippings, leaves, peat moss, composted soil from our local environmental center, peat moss and wood ash. Does this sound right? Do I use fresh grass clippings or do they have to sit for a couple of weeks? Thanks for your help.

Polly March 13, 2012 at 7:40 am

Good luck with your lasagna gardening. Everything sounds ok.I’d use more composted soil, though. As for leaves, composted ones are better, but you can use the ones you have as well.

Kim Hughes May 7, 2012 at 11:54 am

I have a fall-prepared lasagne garden ready for planting. I have read Patricia Lanza’s method and she says to just plant on top of the cardboard. Other websites I have visited say to cut a hole in the cardboard and plant in the ground as deep as the roots and put the mulch back around the plant’s stem. Which is it? Plant on top of the cardboard (I think you’d have to add soil because the lasagne garden is just mulch) or plant in the ground under the cardboard?

Thank you!

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