An Introduction to Lasagna Gardening

Lasagna gardening isn't about growing lasagna, and it isn't about growing the great vegetables and herbs found in lasagna recipes. Instead, lasagna gardening is a timesaving organic gardening method developed by gardener and writer, Patricia Lanza, which requires no digging, no tilling and no sod removal. Too good to be true? Read on.


A Garden of Layers

Lasagna Gardening is a nontraditional organic gardening method that relies on a layering method called "sheet composting." The name "Lasagna," comes from the way garden beds are created from layers, the same way you layer ingredients when making a pan of lasagna. Watering and weeding are reduced through the heavy layers of mulch and by planting crops close together. The lasagna layering method quickly builds soils that are incredibly rich in nutrients, resulting in higher than average garden productivity. The method also works great for container gardening.

What Makes It Different

Thick layers of organic mulch are the main ingredients of every lasagna garden. Chopped leaves, grass clippings, straw, hay, sawdust, wood ash, compost, animal manure, newspaper, etc., are just some of the materials that might made up the layers of a lasagna garden. Individual materials will vary in each individual's garden according to what is available locally.

How Do You Make a Lasagna Garden?

To make a lasagna garden you stake out your garden site and begin building up the beds layer by layer. 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 next layer should consist of 2-3 inches of a water absorbent material like coir, or peat moss. I recommend coir because of the growing environmental damage caused by extracting peat from bogs. Next, a 4-8 inch layer of organic material, such as compost, is spread over the coir layer. Another layer of coir, or a peat alternative would be added on top of that, and then yet another layer of organic material, like grass clippings on top of the coir, and on and on until the beds reach 18-24 inches high. Finally, the tops of the piles may be sprinkled lightly with bone meal and wood ash for added phosphorus and potassium.


"Baking" the Beds

At this point, some gardeners elect to "cook" their lasagna gardens (give the layers of mulch time to breakdown). This reduces the height of the beds and produces high-quality workable soil more quickly. Cooking the beds is optional, but certainly not necessary. One of the greatest advantages to the lasagna gardening method is that you can layer your beds and plant your crops all in the same day.

Planting a Lasagna Garden

When you're 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!

Because it uses no power tools, heavy equipment or expensive commercial additives, lasagna gardening is an easy way for people with space, age or physical limitations to maintain garden productivity. For more information on this easy, stress-free method of organic gardening, read Patricia Lanza's book, Lasagna Gardening, available at Lasagna Gardening

About The Author: Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services.

July 8, 20050 found this helpful

This is a fantastic way of garden and one my husband and I have done for quite some years. We also suggested it to my BIL, who is a paraplegic. We suggested to him those garden beds to be long and narrow, so that he could reach all the plants in the bed and could go up and down each side of the beds and "tend" his garden. But a gardener he is not and he didn't take up our suggestion but I have heard that many other wheelchair bound people have done this.

My husband has used any many of "sides" for our garden beds, ranging from old fencing, bricks, wood etc.

Where we live in Australia we use a layer of newspapers, then pads of straw (separated from a bale), a little bit of organic fertiliser, then a layer of lucerne hay (in pads again), a bit more fertiliser. We layered it like that, until we finished off with organic mulch/soil with some more fertiliser mixed in. If you are worried about the cost of straw and lucerne, ask if stables have loose straw that you could rake up. We actually have a contact on a farm who sells straw and lucerne and he lets us "clean up" the floor of his barn. Hels him and it definitely helps us.

We had some really excellent results and lived on the produce of our garden for many months before we moved interstate.

Where we are now, it is essential to have raised garden beds because we only have alkaline sand, rather than soil and the only plants that do well are native to the area. Anything else seems to go "belly up" or is rather sad looking.

If you are in a rental property or in an area with limited garden space, you can build the framework of the beds from recycled bits and pieces, and take it down when you have to move of ir you want to turn it back into lawn etc.

If you are on the move constantly, you can even take the plants with you when you go by transplanting the ones that will transplant into styrofoam vegetable boxes. If you do this a few weeks before moving, they should thrive when put back into new beds later. I know some people that use these as their "garden beds" permanently.



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July 17, 20070 found this helpful

My mom used this method on her garden this year. She has harvested lots of cherry tomatoes, tomatoes, and there are so many cantalopes on the vines.

She shared with me the article from the author of the book mentioned above in Mother Earth news. Here is the URL from their website. ... ng/1999-04-01/Lasagna-Gardening.aspx

The image gallery also helped me.

I have black clay soil, and I hope this will help me have a good garden.

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January 22, 20090 found this helpful

Thanks for a great article and thanks for mentioning my name.

Patricia Lanza, author Lasagna Gardening, Lasagna Gardening for Small Spaces & Lasagna Gardening with Herbs.

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March 19, 20090 found this helpful

This would certainly produce greatly elevated garden beds. Be sure to warn the kids not to step into the stuff, or they'll sink down to the cardboard boxes.

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July 14, 20120 found this helpful

Thank you Jessica for adding that link to Mother Earth News regarding lasagna gardening. Very informative!

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December 26, 20120 found this helpful

Wow! this will be a great! Layer to layer stacked one above another. I will surely give a try. Cheers to Lasagna gardening.

Also read

for more organic gardening news.

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