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Little by Little

November 6th, 2013

Back in Ohio I expanded by gardens a little each year.  That helps keep things manageable.  This year I expanded the main garden in the back by about 2x.  Next year half of it will lie fallow under a thick layer of mulch.  I’m working on expanding the boundaries of the back potager to integrate stones walls, a greenhouse, a perennial border, and a small greenhouse.  That plan will take years to come to fruition, but it will be very manageable because a small piece will be finished each year.
potager walkway
This year I’m focusing on expanding the edges out and eradicating the quack grass that has been creeping into the garden from the lawn.  My favorite way to expand a garden is with the lasagna gardening method.  It takes longer than digging up the space, but it’s much less work overall.
potager expansion 1
Yesterday I layered cardboard down on the areas I want to kill the grass, then I added a healthy dose of compost on top of that.  I plan on adding chopped leaves and grass clippings on top of the compost to help keep any erosion at bay over the winter.  By next spring, the grass underneath the cardboard will be long gone and the compost will be moving into the soil via earthworms.  
potager expansion 2
I’m hoping to expand the border on each side of this garden by at least 4 feet this fall. The only problem is my fence that perfectly surrounds my 25×25 garden will be too small!

Do you ever use cardboard to smother weeds and grass in the garden? 

18 Comments to “Little by Little”
  1. Heather on November 6, 2013 at 6:46 am

    How timely! I’m embarking on making a circular/square potager just like the one you’re doing with the lasagna method too. This is my first year trying it. I’m really happy to have started it in the fall. With the grass on top already going dormant and a couple months left for everything on top to break down Fall/Winter seems like the perfect time for it.

    Reply to Heather's comment

  2. kathi Cook on November 6, 2013 at 7:39 am

    I have used the lasagna method too, and love it. I start with thick layers of wet newspaper. I love seeing all the worms that it generates in the spring.

    Reply to kathi Cook's comment

  3. Nebraska Dave on November 6, 2013 at 8:06 am

    Susy, of course, you know that I’m gathering leaves from the neighborhood and putting them on my garden. Last year I brought all the yard waste bags home and through them away. This year I had a DUH moment and thought, “Why am I throwing away biodegradable bags. . This year I am laying the empty bag down on the ground and putting the next bag of yard waste on top of the empty bag. It’s a great plan and I’m not sure why I didn’t think of it sooner. It should really put an end to the grass in my newly expanded area. A foot deep mulch will mush down to about three inches by spring and about one inch of nearly finished compost by fall.

    Yeah, worms. Last year, which was year one for my big garden, there were no worms in the garden. After last fall’s heavy yard waste mulching and the composting down over the year, this fall there are worms ggalore Hurray for sheet composting.

    Have a great day with garden expansion.

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  4. Christi {Jealous Hands} on November 6, 2013 at 10:00 am

    I’ve never tried the lasagna method, mainly because of one problem… I don’t have large enough amounts of compost (or so I think). Without access to compost or soil, what would you suggest as a first layer on top of the cardboard?

    Reply to Christi {Jealous Hands}'s comment

    • Susy on November 6, 2013 at 10:18 am

      Anything you can find that will compost, grass clippings, shredded leaves, straw, etc.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  5. Mary Schier on November 6, 2013 at 10:52 am

    I’ve used the lasagna method several times and it works great. Some places say you should use several layers of wet newspapers, but I’ve found anything short of cardboard isn’t as effective at killing the grass/weeds underneath.

    Reply to Mary Schier's comment

  6. whit on November 6, 2013 at 11:28 am

    Using this method right now with cardboard and chicken coop shavings to try to eradicate buttercup from our garden. Had to put down a little lime too.

    Reply to whit's comment

  7. amy on November 6, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    Same problem around my blueberries and front herb bed! And the same solution….My daughter is a florist so she brings home huge quantities of cardboard from her shipped in flowers for me to try and suffocate that crap…..That quack grass is a plague and has been trying to expand into my yard!.

    Reply to amy's comment

  8. daisy on November 6, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    We used this method all along our back beds. It works great and no tilling is required. Can’t beat that! Looking forward to seeing your garden grow!

    Reply to daisy's comment

  9. Caroline on November 6, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    I’m curious how you get rid of the quack grass! I’m pretty sure that’s the same stuff we call crab grass in my area. It’s taken over our entire lawn, front and back yard, along with the Creeping Charlie!

    This summer I decided to be ambitious and dig up the top layer of grass and just tipped it upside down to create a whole new garden. My existing garden was far too shady to be very useful.

    In the spring I will make a few trips to collect a bunch of free compost from the city and will pour that on top of the topsoil. For the winter I’ve topped it with leaves from the trees. We had snow today so I’m not sure I’ll get around to finishing the leaf coating. If the snow melts I will. I plan on just dumping the spring compost on top of the leaves.

    Eventually I’d love to change my set up so that it looks similar to yours, with the circle garden in the center and the path leading around and out. So beautiful!

    Reply to Caroline's comment

    • Susy on November 6, 2013 at 3:21 pm

      Quack grass is different than crab grass, it grows at different times and spreads differently. This method would probably help get rid of crab grass.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  10. Jennifer Fisk on November 6, 2013 at 8:46 pm

    You shamed me, sparked me, or something yesterday into cleaning my chicken house. Another 10 wheel barrows full of chicken house poo and shavings have been dumped on the weeds of the summer. Will it smother them? Maybe not, but I will try cardboard next spring.

    Reply to Jennifer Fisk's comment

    • Susy on November 7, 2013 at 8:55 am

      It should if it’s thick enough.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  11. S on November 7, 2013 at 10:14 am

    I love your garden design too! We’ve used the lasagna methods to prep news beds in the fall. This year we are *trying* to smother an area of grass on a steep slope with a combo of cardboard, leftover wood panels, and anything we can find! We will mulch heavily this winter with leaves etc. It has a pernicious bindweed problem and I really hope this does the trick!

    Reply to S's comment

  12. kathie on November 7, 2013 at 11:21 pm

    Your garden will be absolutrly breathtaking once it’s complete!!

    Reply to kathie's comment

  13. kathie on November 7, 2013 at 11:26 pm

    *absolutely was what I had meant to spell!

    Reply to kathie's comment

  14. Jill Hamilton on November 10, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    Hi Susy, I have a few oak trees on my property and I’ve heard they are acidic. Can I use the oak leaves as mulch or is that not a good idea?

    Also, I just moved into this house 2 weeks ago and have a huge problem with catmint in the gardens. Can I use the lasagna method to kill the catmint? I tried pulling it out, but it has only encouraged growth. The catmint is killing everything in the gardens!!

    I absolutely love your blog! Thank you for all the helpful information!

    Reply to Jill Hamilton's comment

  15. laura on November 11, 2013 at 9:58 am

    cardboard and newspaper were my go to mulch in the garden. i used it to keep the weeds out and to keep paths free from grass.

    i look forward to watching your garden grow here. :-)

    Reply to laura's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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