Killing My Lawn Softly with Cardboard

It’s time for me to begin Phase 2 of my native plant garden.  I am proceeding with the same system I undertook in Phase 1 (look in my blog archives) but with more confidence.  In a perfect world, I would have started amassing cardboard and begun the process last summer but due to a family emergency, that didn’t happen.   

This was a fairly large area to cover and I had to resort to friends, neighbors, a post on the Next Door app, and the local bike shop.  Why cardboard?  This is the most ecological way to kill on a lawn and requires the least energy. The cardboard and the dead grass will go on to provide nutrients for the soil after it decomposes.  You do not want to apply Roundup!  This will poison the microflora and fauna and get into the water supply.  It’s a known carcinogen.  Digging requires way too much effort for a large area and you may not get all the roots.

In Phase 1 I put down a layer of bagged store-bought chicken manure to speed up the process.  That adds a layer of expense that I did not want to incur this time around.  First, the lawn needs to be mowed short. Water the lawn, apply the cardboard, and bricks or rocks at intervals to keep it in place, and then wet down the cardboard.  In my case in Oregon, the fall rains took care of that. 

A lawn with die quickest in the warm months.  In hot weather, it could take as little as 3 weeks.  For me, it will take about 3 months with the cold weather.  Eventually, when the beds and berms are constructed, a thick layer of wood chips will be spread on top.

Patience is key here. It will look ugly for a while but those before and after photos will sure be stunning!

People have varying ways to approach sheet mulching with cardboard.  Some also use newspaper additionally as in the video below depending on one’s final goal.  Whatever method you choose, your lawn will die!

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