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Sheet Mulching To Kill Grass – How To?

Grass can be tough to get rid of. If you're thinking of doing sheet mulching to kill grass so you can change the look of your lawn, we've got you covered. We asked the experts how it's done and here's what they shared with us.

Here's how to do sheet mulching properly:

  1. Mow the lawn to remove as much of the turf as possible.
  2. Water the lawn.
  3. Lay 1 to 2 inches of compost or worm castings.
  4. Put 5 to 8 layers of newspaper sheets and/or cardboard alternately all over the place. Make sure there are no spaces in between.
  5. Cover them with 4 to 6 inches of wood chip mulch.

Take note that this will take about 6 to 10 months before you finally get rid of all the grass.

Keep on reading so we can tell you more about sheet mulching and share more tips on how this process is done. This article will also answer if you need to remove the grass before mulching, how long it takes for sheet mulching to break down, and if you can plant right after sheet mulching. Let's get right into it!

A straw and cardboard sheet mulching in the lawn, Sheet Mulching To Kill Grass - How To?

How do you do sheet mulching?

Mulching the lawn involves putting a thick layer of material over your topsoil. This serves the purpose of locking in moisture in the soil and preventing water from evaporating especially during hot weather. The plants' roots are protected from temperature changes and winds.

Straw and cardboard being used for sheet mulching

Mulches can also block the growth of unwanted plants by preventing sun, air, and nutrients from reaching their roots. This is what sheet mulching does to kill any kind of grass that grows on your lawn.

Lawn replacement doesn't just entail cutting or pulling grass. Grass is a stubborn plant. It'll continue to grow even when you thought you've gotten rid of it forever. The bottom line is that your lawn won't look good when there's grass randomly growing on different parts and once it takes root, it can easily invade your land and compete with the nutrients in the soil.

Sheet mulching allows you to replace your lawn to change how it looks and have a beautiful landscape. You can also replace your turf with drought-tolerant plants for easier maintenance and water conservation.

Sheet mulching is an eco-friendly way of killing grass so you can replace your lawn for whatever purpose you intend to. It does so by depriving grass of light coming from the sun. Without this light energy, the grass won't be able to make food and it'll die. It makes use of sheets of newspaper and/or cardboard that you cover your lawn's topsoil with.

Over time, these materials will decompose as well as the grass that they are intended to kill and all of these components make your soil richer. No chemicals or non-biodegradable stuff is needed. This is why it is a win-win for the environment. 

Sheet mulching is so easy to do! You don't have to dig or till your lawn. It is also called lasagna gardening because of the manner that you lay the sheets over the lawn and fill them up with other mulches as if you're making delicious pasta. 

So, without much further ado, here are the things you need to prepare and the procedure for sheet mulching.

Materials

  • newspaper sheets and/or cardboard (prints should be in black only, colored and glossy pages might contain non-biodegradable pigments; cardboard shouldn't have tapes, stickers, or staples)
  • compost or worm castings
  • wood chip mulch
  • water hose with spray
  • lawn mower
  • shovel
  • spading fork
  • rake

Click this link to find these worm castings on Amazon.

Mulch Quantity Calculation

You'll need to cover your lawn area with 1-2 inches of compost or worm castings while you need a much thicker layer of wood chip mulch. To help you estimate the amount of compost, worm castings, and wood chip mulch that you need, let these computations guide you so that you'll have enough materials to work with.

Red mulch used for garden decoration

  • For compost and worm casting. Multiply the given area in square feet by 0.15 then divide the product by 27 to get the required cubic yards.
  • For wood chip mulch. Multiply the given area in square feet by 0.50 then divide the product by 27 for the cubic yards required.

Check out this wood chip mulch on Amazon.

Procedure

  1. Set your lawn mower to the lowest setting and mow your lawn to remove the top section of the grass. Put aside the clippings for proper disposal.
  2. Water the lawn. Make sure that it is completely soaked with water.
  3. If needed, create a border for the area that you intend to mulch especially those places along sidewalks and other hardscapes. This will prevent the re-emergence of grass and other unwanted plants in other parts of your lawn or garden.
  4. Cover your lawn with 1-2 inches of compost or worm castings.
  5. Place 5-8 layers of newspaper sheets or cardboard over the lawn. Lay them just like roof shingles but make sure that there are no gaps in between.
  6. Wet each sheet slightly so that it won't be blown away by the wind.
  7. Cover the sheet mulch this time with about 4-6 inches of wood chip mulch.

That's it! Now, you just have to wait for about 6-10 months to completely kill the grass all the way from its roots and any remaining seeds in your soil.

One of the best things about this procedure is that you can just leave it there. You don't have to do much for its care and maintenance. Sure, you can water it once in a while, especially during dry months but you don't need to soak it all the way through. The compost and worm castings will take care of the decomposition process.

Fall is the best time to start your sheet mulching so that your lawn will be ready for planting come springtime. But before anything else, it is advisable to install your hardscape and irrigation first before you mulch so that they are already in place when you're ready to replace your lawn with the plants and trees that you like to grow.

Do I need to remove grass before mulching?

You might be wondering why you have to remove grass at all if mulching will kill it anyway. We understand that it can be time-consuming but this is an important part of ground preparation.

It is advised that you set your mower to the lowest setting so that you can cut the grass as short as possible. This will make it easier for you to clean the lawn, remove dirt, rock, and debris, and poke the soil so that you can loosen it. All of these actions will help speed up the decomposition process and contribute to a successful sheet mulching.

Lawn mover on green grass in modern garden. Machine for cutting lawns

If the soil is dry, you can also water it after you've cut the grass. This will ensure that the water really reaches the soil and penetrates it. This is a crucial part of sheet mulching as it makes your soil conducive for decomposition. 

How long does it take sheet mulching to break down?

Sheet mulching is a long process. As mentioned earlier, it'll take about 6-10 months before the grass is killed off completely. This is also the same period that it needs for sheet mulching to break down.

Newspaper sheets will break down faster than cardboard but the presence of compost or worm castings will help hasten decomposition. And these organic materials will be added to the components of the compost that'll further enrich your soil.

Not only that, but even the grass that you're trying to get rid of will also add nutrients to the soil once it decomposes.

Cardboard and straw being used for sheet mulching

Can you plant right after sheet mulching?

The short answer to this question is no, you cannot plant right after sheet mulching. Some experts recommend waiting for one season to pass while some are good with waiting up to 6 weeks. This will help ensure that the grass or weeds have really been killed, decomposed, and they won't be there anymore when you start your new garden.

When your lawn is finally grass-free, you can already plant whatever you want to grow in your garden - flowers, trees, shrubs, vegetables, fruits, anything you want! You've got rich soil on your lawn so you won't have a hard time growing them. Waiting pays off and you can expect better results when you give your lawn enough time to sit.

It also won't be difficult to maintain since you've gotten rid of the irritating grass and weeds that always seem to grow faster than the plants that you desire to have in your garden.

Final Thoughts

Sheet mulching may be a long process but with just the use of newspaper and cardboard, you can be assured of a successful lawn replacement. At the same time, it is good for the environment. So, happy mulching!

To read about related topics, kindly click the following links:

Can Mulching Leaves Kill Grass?

How To Plant After Mulching