What is Lasagna Gardening? Why you Should Consider It


Picture of the layers of lasagna gardening

Lasagna gardening is the perfect minimum effort and cost-effective tool for getting your garden soil in immaculate condition. Your garden soil will assume a soft tone and provide top-notch nutrition for your plants by the end of the lasagna gardening process. Creating a lasagna bed is the best way to get soil alive with micro-organisms that aerate your soil, making sure your plants thrive and give your maximum yield.

Lasagna gardening has nothing to do with your cheese-filled, pasta layered delicacy at home. Far from it, lasagna gardening is a method of building up layers of organic materials in the garden and letting them cook over time. The layers will age to perfection with time resulting in nutrients rich soil for planting.

The best time to start thinking about starting a lasagna garden is in the fall. To successfully build up your layers, all you need is your hands, a shovel, and a few leftover organic materials. Because you do not need to buy new materials to make it work, lasagna gardening is cost-effective. The cost efficiency is made more evident by the rising prices of fertilizer.

So what do you need to get your lasagna gardening off to a good start? I start with grass clippings, leaves, fruits and vegetables, Coffee grounds, and weeds with no seeds. Other materials you can use include manure, compost, tea leaves, tea bags, seaweed, shredded newspaper, and trimmings from your garden. Grab your shovel and read on, and I’ll show you how you can make a lasagna bed that you will love to plant on.

When planting season starts, every farmer wants to provide the best soil for their plants. Some farmers use expensive fertilizers while other spray manure on the ground. What if I told you that there is a much better way to do it? Better still, it’s cheaper and works like a charm. That is Lasagna gardening for you. It is simple, effective, and organic.

What is Lasagna Gardening?

Lasagna gardening is also referred to as sheet composting. The technique has been in use for decades now. It is popular because it takes minimum effort to get everything set up. The no-dig- and no-till aspect of the technique eliminates the need to use powerful tools that are costly and time-consuming.

Lasagna gardening is great for the environment because it makes good use of yard waste, kitchen scraps, and any other item you’d fancy throwing into a compost pile.

How Did the Name Come About?

The name lasagna gardening is derived from the layered design of the pasta dish lasagna that closely resembles the gardening technique. You can do lasagna gardening anywhere you have a flat surface. What happens when a lasagna garden is functional is the creation of a supine composite pile. A supine pile is a composed pile that is spread out as opposed to a heaped-up pile.

The Benefits of Using the Lasagna Gardening Technique

In my years of lasagna gardening, I have had observed the following advantages over using regular soil to garden on.

I Do Not Need till The Soil.

Lasagna gardening does not take kindly to stirring because it disrupts the layering design. This means that you will not have to till. No tilling also allows for the preservation of helpful micro-organisms that tilling might otherwise kill off.

Lasagna Gardening Works Great in Small Spaces.

If you have a small space to work with, lasagna gardening is the perfect solution. Pick a sunny spot for your plants and get to working on it as soon as fall begins. Size does not matter because the plants will produce close to double your quantity without this gardening method.

I Get to Design the Garden I’m Comfortable With

You can make your lasagna garden as high as you want it. If you’re going to interact with your plants easily, you can make it waist-high, so you do not have to bend when gardening. I like to have my garden raised about knee high so my plants can get adequate sunlight every day.

I See Fewer Weeds in My Garden.

You will also notice that the garden has fewer weeds growing. This was a welcome surprise because it spared me the time and effort of controlling weed growth.

I Get My Materials Free of Charge Right in My Backyard

If you look around your home, you will find the perfect materials to use in your lasagna garden. These materials are usually the kind of things you leave out and ignore or throw out in the trash. Finding out that I could use lawn trimmings that I had been throwing away in my lasagna garden was a marvel to me.

It Goes to Support My Organic Gardening Goals.

Organic waste is a great alternative to manufactured products for soil enrichment. I’ll go the organic way any day, which is why I choose lasagna gardening any day. Locally sourcing materials is also fun because it is cheap and contributes to improved waste efficiency at home.

I Get the Best Drainage.

The soil in a sheet compost garden is choke-full of good micro-organisms that keep the ground loose and well ventilated. Well ventilated soil is also great for good drainage.

You can forget about overwatering your plants as excess water drains right through.

I Need to Do Less Watering.

Once you have your lasagna garden set up, you will only need to do minimal watering. This works perfectly since I do not need to be home as much, freeing up valuable time. Less watering also means that you save on your water bill, so it is a win-win situation.

I Have an Exceptionally High Yield.

Part of the reason you will love sheet composting is the amount of yield you will get from your garden. You have my word on this; take note of your average harvest ‘before and after you try lasagna gardening, and you will be astonished at the difference. Your yield will be 100 percent toxin-free and bountiful by the measure of it.

How to Make a Functional Lasagna Garden?

Find the Perfect Spot

The first step to starting any garden is to figure out the spot you want it located. The area you settle on should receive enough sunlight, about six to eight hours’ worth of the sun. Finding the best space is a walk in the park for me, and it depends on what I want to plant in my lasagna garden.

Remove Any Weeds or Tall Grass

Picture of a weed pulling tool pulling weed from the lawn

This step is crucial because removing the unwanted plants will thrive in the layers and choke out your plants if you do not remove them. If there is any organic matter on the ground, I leave it there to add to the layers I put on top.

Outline the Garden Bed

Sometimes I use wooden planks and concrete blocks to create an outline around the garden. You don’t have to do this step, but I recommend it if you like your garden to look organized and tidy. Try and do it at least at the base to get everything in place throughout the layering process.

Put Down Your First Layer.

After creating space for the first layer with the outline, I place my first layer. The first layer should be a thin layer of nitrogen-rich materials such as the kitchen scraps from any kitchen. If you are not getting your leftovers from your kitchen, always ensure you go through them to ensure that everything you put in is toxic-free.

The Second Layer

My second layer is laid down to prevent the weeds from growing on my patch. I cover the entire area with pieces of old newspapers. You can also use pieces of scrap cardboard. This ingenious technique is a perfect barrier and chokes the weeds before they grow through.

If you choose to use newspapers, make sure to layer them on thick for the full effect. Make sure to water the layer down to get it compact at the bottom but soft and loose at the top for roots to penetrate.

The Third Layer

I find this to be the most fun. The third layer comprises aged compost manure. I prefer to use aged manure as fresh manure is rich in Nitrogen and gets hot, and can burn plants. Once you have this layer down, you need to give it a good watering down.

The Fourth Layer

This layer is essential for aeration and good drainage. I place a thick layer of straw on top of the compost. I water the straw moderately before proceeding to the fifth layer.

The Fifth Layer

On top of the straw goes thick twigs or logs. The best wood to use is pine or oak wood. The idea behind this layer is that the twigs will break down, leaving a pocket for micro-organisms to work in. The microbes increase the richness and biodiversity of your garden. This layer also needs to be watered down.

The Sixth Layer

This layer should comprise vegetable scraps, eggshells, or coffee grounds. Anything that you would put into a compost pile can go in this layer. Once I’m done with this layer, I like to add some straw and water well.

The scraps will eventually break down and release important nutrition for your plants.

The Seventh Layer

You can fill this layer with shredded newspapers, leaves, or toilet paper tubes. Some people even use napkins and office waste. Any carbon-based product you can get your hands on will work perfectly for this layer. Cover the layer with straw and water well.

The Eighth Layer

An extra layer of compost scraps goes into this layer.

The Ninth Layer

The next layer is a thick carbon-based layer. Anything that is made of paper or straw and leaves will work great.

The Tenth Layer

I like to add a good two inches of organic soil and an extra layer of straw on top of it for the final layer. Finally, I water the entire pile well, and I repeat the process until the stack is as high as I want it. As an extra precaution, I like to cover my pile with black plastic so it does not get watered down by snow and water.

Conclusion on what is Lasagna Gardening

If you follow these ten steps, you will have a perfect garden to plant your crops in. Always be careful not to put anything toxic into your pile as it can thwart all your efforts. Avail of all the materials you intend to use and scrutinize their toxicity before inputting them into your garden.

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Tony O'Neill

I am Tony O'Neill, A full-time firefighter, and professional gardener. I have spent most of my life gardening. From the age of 7 until the present day at 46. My goal is to use my love and knowledge of gardening to support you and to simplify the gardening process so you are more productive

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