Sheet mulching is a layered mulch method that cultivates the soil and substitutes existing lawns or other vegetation, removing the need to eliminate unnecessary plant material. The first layer is an ecological weed barrier, typically many layers of newspaper or cardboard put right on the ground.

This is covered in a dense layer of manure and/or compost. A sheet of mulch like wood chips is put on top. Contact a Tampa Tree Specialist for professional help with the health of your trees and how to mulch around them to keep them that way.


Step One – Measure the area and compute quantities

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Mulching plants in a garden

Understanding how much of every material is necessary will help you finish your project positively. Newspaper or cardboard should be overlaid to evade light penetration. Therefore, include it in your estimates. You will need enough manure or compost to cover the area to a depth of at least six inches.


Step Two – Prep the site

Mow the lawn very short, as well as chop down standing vegetation, leaving the clippings.

Eliminate only big woody plant pieces. The chopped vegetation or clippings left on the ground will rot, adding nutrients to the soil. Add soil amendments and natural fertilizers at this time. Soak with water before you cover to begin decomposition. If you are planting large plants, plant them now. Smaller plants can be planted later.


Step Three – Put on a biodegradable weed barrier

The next layer should be a weed barrier that decomposes over time. Thick layers of newspaper or recycled cardboard are typically used. Old carpets of natural fiber will work as well. It is vital that the barrier is absorbent to air and water. Don’t use plastic.

Overlap the newspaper or cardboard pieces to cover the ground minus any gaps totally. If there are plants you want to save, leave a strong opening so air can circulate the root crown. Walk on the barrier to make it formed to the ground and soaked up the water.


Step Four – Compost

Spread manure or weed-free compost over the weed barrier.


Step Five – Mulch

Layer mulch (three inches) on top of the manure or compost. Excellent materials for this layer are straw, leaves, plant debris, wood chips, or tree pruning. They must be weed seed free. This layer of mulch aids in controlling weeds and keeping the soil moist.


Step Six – Plant!

Put an opening in the cardboard and put plants in the soil beneath the sheet mulch. Smaller plants can be put directly into the mulch layers and compost.