Disturbing the soil with tilling and excessive digging depletes soil fertility, disrupts soil life, causes compaction, and invites weed seeds to sprout by bringing them to the surface. Sheet mulching is a simple and effective no-till alternative for transitioning from turf or other vegetation to annual or perennial beds.
A barrier layer such as cardboard or newspaper is placed over mowed vegetation, followed by compost or other organic matter and mulch to retain moisture and exclude weeds. Plants can be placed in beds before the barrier layer has decomposed by cutting through the layer. Earthworms and soil microbes proliferate in sheet mulched beds improving soil texture and fertility.
Ground Covers: “Living Mulch”
Ground covers can replace grass in many situations, reducing maintenance and watering expense while adding beauty and interest in the landscape. These plants are able to form mats and effectively crowd out unwanted weeds. Ground covers also conserve moisture, build soil microbe populations, prevent soil erosion, and provide nectar for pollinators.
Ground covers are useful under large trees where grass is sparse or where roots protrude from the ground, and are also helpful in shaded, sloping, or dry areas. Low-growers can be planted near walkways or the front of a house, while taller varieties can be used near boundary lines or to screen unwanted views.
Checklists for an Eco-friendly Property
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