Posted on 28 April 2008 by

Lasagna Gardening: It’s Not Just for Dinner Anymore

By Vanessa Richins

One gardening method that works very well for urban gardens is lasagna gardening.

I’m not talking about growing tomatoes, oregano and basil together (as heavenly as that sounds right now).

Lasagna gardening, rather, is a bed preparation technique that requires no tilling or digging. You won’t need a separate compost bin, either. It can also be used for containers.

The name lasagna gardening refers to the layering technique used to build up the bed. First, you select the area where you want to construct the bed. If there’s sod or weeds, they don’t need to be removed.

Next, you spread a thick material like layers of newspaper or flat cardboard over the plot. This will kill any grass or weeds underneath.

Follow this with a layer of peat moss or coir(coconut fibers), about 2-3″ thick. After this comes a layer of organic material 4-6″ thick. You want to have a mixture of carbon-rich matter and nitrogen-rich matter, at about a 25:1 ratio. Common carbon-rich materials include leaves, newspaper, cardboard pieces, and dryer lint. For nitrogen, use grass clippings, algae, non-invasive weeds, and manure.

Continue layering between peat/coir and organic materials until the entire plot is 18-24″ high. Once this is finished, you can leave it to start decomposing if you like, but you are able to plant immediately also. All you have to do is push the layers aside to plant, then cover when finished. As the plants grow, the materials will decompose, producing nutrient-rich compost for your plants.

If you want to make it decompose even faster, add in some earthworms. You can also buy special composting worms from garden supply stores and websites.

Lasagna gardening is a great way for those with limited space to create rich soil.

Has anyone ever tried it in their own garden?

Let me know.

15 Responses to “Lasagna Gardening: It’s Not Just for Dinner Anymore”

  1. Sheila Says:

    When I moved into my house last year there were long beds of ivy that I wanted for planting cutting flowers. I used the lasagna method starting with cardboard boxes that came from furniture shipments to smother the ivy. A year later I have a robust garden bed growing there!

  2. Michael Nolan Says:

    It absolutely works, and it is a great alternative to people who just can’t seem to fathom waiting weeks and months for traditional composting methods to work their magic.

    Don’t forget to toss in your coffee grounds!

  3. Ray White Says:

    He Reggie and all you good writers, I am glad to see this. It will be so useful to a lot of readers, and if it is permissible for me to do so it will be lots of help to this old man when he writes his journal, DAD

  4. Says:


    Of course, Feel free to share with your readers. We like to share with abandon here!

    So glad you found this info to be helpful.




  5. Vanessa Richins Says:

    Glad to see some of you have tried this too. We are thinking of using this at our new house when planting some cold-hardy bamboo…that can spread like nothing else.

    Happy lasagna gardening to all!

  6. Dani in NC Says:

    I layered my small bed in March. I was going to leave it to do its thing until fall, but I think I may go ahead and transplant my cucumbers there.

  7. Lisa Says:

    Can this method be used for like small container gardens as well as big ones?

  8. SeoKathy Says:

    I have done my whole yard with lasagne gardening. I have heloped 6 neighbors also do lasagne gardening. I love it and swear by it.

    My house is on the corner and I put put 3 foot wide raised flower beds beside my sidewalk (150 feet). The only weed that has grown through it is the wild morning glory/bindweed. I spray it with “Speed Zone” and it gets rid of the bindweed.

    I have come to a few realizations about using Lasagne Gardening that i can share with you. The key is putting plenty of newspaper/cardboard down for the first layer. I ahve never put lime or any other chemical underneath the paper and my garden has done fine. When adding layers, I put shallow layers of anything organic I cna get my hands on including topsoil, chopped leaves, sewer mulch, peat moss, fine mulch, oyster shells (adds calcium) etc. I did NOT like straw because it brought a lot of seeds into my beds. I did not like cow compst because it turned my garden into a lawn. I am careful what I bring in to make sure I am not bringing in weeds.

    My vegetable garden is 32×30. My home had been a rental for 12 years. The garden had all sorts of grass in it. I tried the first year to keep it weeded but it was a losing battle. i am a single mom and do not have the hour per day it needed to keep the grass out.

    The second year, I layed a truck load of cardboard down in the garden. I bought two dump trucks of sandy loamy topsoil and that was dumped on the cardboard. I then layered leaves, compost and peat moss. It is beautiful and most importantly, no weeds. I have fat earthworms. I love my garden.

    I would never do any other type of gardening again. I do have a small area where I plant tender row crops of items like lettuse, radishes and green ions (it is my salad garden). My neighbor spent a lot of money to do square foot gardening. I get twice the produce that she does for half the cost. I need more than 16 green bean plants, I planted 60 feet of green bean plants this year.

    Lasagne Gardening is a great gardening method. Youa re welcome to email me with questions:

    Good Luck!

  9. Says:

    Wow Kathy! Many thanks for great lasagna gardening instruction.

  10. Gabby Says:

    I’m a fan of Lasagna gardening as well. I just have one little snippet to add. I purchased a few old “blenders” from my local thrift store and I keep my “peelings, egg shells, ends of veggies, etc.” and run them through my “garden blender” with water that I run from tap and let sit to dechlorinate…it can be poured right on top of the garden…the worms think they were invited to a smorgasboard for dinner… there is no other way to garden for me…almost work free…making the lasagna is not work it’s fun!

  11. LightBulbGal174 Says:

    Even for a noobie on the subject this is as clear as it can get. THX xoxoxo

  12. SeoKathy Says:

    I just had someone email me and ask if I still do Lasagna Gardening.

    YES! I still love it. I have helped many in my neighborhood do it too!

    Every year, after I plant my garden, I add another layer to the lasaga bed. I lay newspaper and fine wood chips, grass clipping or whatever other organics I can get cheaply, arounf my plants (or after the seeds are up about 2″) and there is little weeding to do all year.

    I love this method especially for weed control.

    I prefer cardboard for getting the garden going and newspaper for annual weed control. Cardboard takes two years to fully break down while newspaper is pretty well gone by the end of the season. The newspaper must be fully covered in order for it to fully decomposed by the end of the normal growing season.

    Again, I LOVE this method! I do cheat and till in the spring but seriously, it is such beautiful dirt, I would probably just spade it with my shovel and get amazing results.


  13. Judy Says:

    I used MAGAZINES to create a flower bed as I had magazines on hand and not cardboard. Worked like a charm. The bed is still weedfree YEARS later!

  14. Ellen Says:

    I LOVE lasagna gardening. I want to roam the earth preaching about lasagna gardening. My plants needed less watering than in other beds. It’s the way to go.


    Still love this method. I have moved several times and have now helped more people than I can count take back a garden area from weeds, grass etc.

    Use the cardboard, multiple, overlapping layers. Make sure you remove the tape from cardboard as it does not break down any time soon.

    chat later

Leave a Reply

Recent Comments