Make a New Garden Bed: No Digging Required!

Fall is when I add new beds to my garden, or expand my existing beds. If we’re planning a new raised vegetable bed, we usually build the frames in fall, fill them with leaves and fruit/veggie scraps, and let them sit over the winter, then fill them up the rest of the way with good quality soil and composted manure in the spring.

But if I’m planning to add a regular (non-raised) bed, my method is even easier. Here it is:

1. Figure out the size/shape of your new bed. You can measure it out with stakes and string, use a hose to get the shape perfect, or just eyeball it (this is usually what I do.)
2. Grab several sections of newspaper, or a few flatted corrugated cardboard boxes.
3. Lay the newspaper (a section or at least 4 to 5 pages thick) or the cardboard down where you want your bed to be. Overlap the sections of newspaper or cardboard by a few inches.
4. Yes. Just lay them right on the grass. Really.
5. Go rake some leaves and/or mow the lawn. Dump leaves or grass (or both!) right on top of the newspaper.
6. If you want to neaten it up and avoid having leaves blow all over the place, get some shredded bark mulch and put a good layer of that over the top of the leaves/grass.
7. Done.

OK, you’re not really done. Now you sit inside your house, comfy and cozy all winter. And while you’re doing that, the grass under your pile ‘o newspaper and leaves dies. And the leaves start breaking down into leaf mold, which the worms will start tunneling up through your newspaper to devour. And then they’ll tunnel back into your soil and poop. And then you end up with really great soil, and, in the spring, you can plant in this beautiful, crumbly soil that you didn’t even work up a sweat to create.

Lazy is good!