In the April/May edition of Birds and Blooms Magazine Stacy Tornio, our editor, wrote ‘Cardboard Gardening’ about using cardboard in a number of useful garden projects including to make a new garden bed. In the article Stacy notes that not only cardboard but newspaper and similar material can be used as a weed barrier.
I am better known for my birding posts and, though I enjoy gardening, I don’t want to spend a lot of time working in my yard because I want to be out in the field looking at and photographing birds. I have been reducing my lawn not only to reduce the amount of time it requires to maintain it, but because I want more garden space to put in plants that draw in more birds, butterflies and other pollinators. Not only do turf lawns take a lot of water here in semi-arid Colorado but the water is costly and takes time to apply it in a manner that doesn’t waste.
I have previously removed areas of my lawn using various methods which were either expensive, time consumptive or required using a lot of herbicides which I really don’t like to use. I have used cardboard and newspaper to smother weeds before but this is the first time I have used them to turn my lawn into garden bed and it is right up my alley–inexpensive, doesn’t take a lot of time and avoids use of herbicides. And it fits with ‘no-till’ gardening that I want to move to.
In the photo above you can see the area I want to turn from lawn to garden bed is marked off by wooden boards (these are recycled cedar 2″X2″ boards that used to be a slat roof over my porch). Yes, this is coming to a ‘v’ at the end–I find curving and un-square patterns in my yard more esthetically pleasing.
Since the grass has just started to put on some growth where I live, just a little shearing reduced it all to a short height. We started my placing alternating layers of newspaper over the grass (sorry, I garden like I cook–I don’t measure exactly but I usually put about 3-6 layers of newspaper overlapped with more layers). Then we placed single layers of cardboard over the newspaper, overlapping them liberally.
Note: when cardboard boxes are flattened they come out in odd shapes and some of the flaps can be cut off to cover gaps in coverage.
Wetting the cardboard, and underlying newspaper, jump-starts their decomposition and helps keep them in place.
The final step is to put mulch on top–I used a high quality cedar mulch which has better consistency. Since I didn’t get this done in the fall, I may not be able to plant this spring.
Have you used cardboard in your yard?