Sheet Mulching

Introduction: Sheet Mulching

Hey guys. Today, we will teach you how to sheet mulch. Sheet mulching is a good way to build up layers of fertile soil that will last a long time. We will build layers upward to form a nutrient rich soil for the plants to grow. Not only does sheet mulching act as a good source of nutrients for your plants but it also retains water very well. The sheet mulch beds only need to be flooded once every two weeks, and it should hold the water to sustain the plants. Also, the layers will attract a lot of worms, insects, and microorganisms to increase the biodiversity of the garden and make it a thriving ecosystem. This will make the plant healthier and more resistant to diseases and harmful pests.

Sheet mulching can be done in either raised beds, or in a hole. In this case, we dug a hole and used that to hold our sheet mulch layers.


  1. Gloves(Optional)
  2. Shovel
  3. Compost(Vegetables, fruit peels, etc.)
  4. Hay
  5. Nitrogen Rich Manure
  6. Paper(Newspapers, scrap paper, cardboard)
  7. Seedless Mulch
  8. Bucket

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Step 1: Find a Proper Location

First, identify you gardening location. There, you will dig a hole(Please consider what may be underneath, such as water pipes). Choose your gardening location wisely and keep in mind that what and where you are planting, so that the plants would get enough sunlight and nutrients to grow.

Step 2: Dig the Hole

Dig a hole about two feet deep and as wide as you want(also the bigger the hole the more organic matter, paper, manure, etc). Again, consider how big your tree or plant will grow and what the roots look like.

Step 3: Layer One: Slashed Vegetation

The first layer from the bottom will be slashed vegetation. This can be leaves/branches from trees, cut up, weeds pulled up from the garden, etc.

Step 4: Layer Two: Manure

The second layer will be manure or other nitrogen rich material.

Step 5: Layer Three: Paper and Cardboard

Newspapers and Cardboard. This is a good way to recycle as both will decompose and provide nutrients for your plant. It also attracts worms, which are good for your garden.

Step 6: Layer Four: Second Layer of Manure

Another layer of manure or other nitrogen rich substance. This will not only provide more nutrients, but also encourage the newspapers and cardboard to decompose faster.

Step 7: Layer Five: Hay

This section will probably be the thickest layer, about three times the size of the other layers. The hay will hold a lot of water and help with water retention as it holds a lot of the water.

Step 8: Layer Six: Compost And/or Organic Matter

Again, put an layer of compost, and other organic matter, such as dead vegetables, leaves, fruit peels, and grass clippings. This layer and the layer before will attract worms and other insects that will increase the biodiversity.

Step 9: Layer Seven: Dirt And/or Soil

This layer is where you will plant your seeds in the dirt. This will also cover up the layer of compost and hay. If you are planting a tree, it will be good to consider how deep the roots are going to grow.

Step 10: Final Layer: Seedless Mulch

In this case, I used wood shavings, but it would have the same effect if it was another layer of hay. As long as it doesn't have any seeds, it should be fine. This layer will prevent water evaporation as it covers the dirt. It also inhibits the growth of weeds and controls the temperature so the plants will have a more stability in their growth with less temperature fluctuations.

Step 11: Water!!!

Water your bed. Make sure enough water is able to get to the bottom most layers. After this, the soil you will have built will be able to retain the water and you would not have to water it often.

Step 12: Enjoy!

Sit back and watch as your garden grows...

Thank you!~

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    2 Discussions


    5 years ago on Introduction

    A known gardening expert Mrs. Ruth Stout proposed the use of mulch and straw to fertilize the soil and to also, protect the garden during times of drought. She wrote many books on the subject and she is very known in the permaculture movement.


    5 years ago

    A couple of notes from been there, done that. If your nitrogen manure is very high(poultry) go real heavy on the paper/cardboard. The nitrogen can burn the plants. The top layer of mulch can be shredded paper, fine as you can get it.