How to Sheet Mulch Your Lawn

Sheet mulching is one of the most efficient and popular techniques for getting rid of grass! It requires relatively little labor, a few basic tools, and some cardboard and soil (or mulch).

Sheet mulch with three easy steps

Sheet mulching is a simple process that anyone with a shovel and rake can complete. All you need is some cardboard and some soil or mulch. The process is so fast and so effective, you can convert hundreds of square feet in a day. Just be sure to use native plants in your new habitat to maximize the ecological benefit from unlawning!

Thanks to reddit user /u/WaxAndWaneDesign for this excellent video on the sheet mulching process.

Step 1: Prep the edges of your lawn for sheet mulching

Before you begin, you need to identify the section of your lawn that will be converted from grass to something else. Around the edges of this area, cut the turf in sections and flip them over. This will prevent grass near the edges of your project from popping up, and helps you have a clean-looking boundary.

For the best results, till or turn the grass throughout the entire area you want to convert. Breaking up the rootmat of the grass will result in healthier and more receptive soil.

a sheet mulching project underway. Cardboard lays on top of some tilled soil and grass.
Sheet mulching project. Source:

Step 2: Cover with cardboard or newspaper

Lay a “sheet” of cardboard or newspaper, being sure not to leave any gaps, on top of the grass. This layer will decompose naturally within a few months, but by then your grass will be gone.

Pro tip – if you’re planting perennials, shrubs, or trees with an existing root system you can cut through this layer and dig into the soil. Just be sure to fully remove any grass near the gap.

Once you are happy with your newspaper or cardboard layer, wet it thoroughly with a hose. This starts the decomposition process and helps keep everything in place.

Step 3: Mulch on top of your sheet

The last step is the most time-consuming and can be expensive. You’ll need enough mulch or soil to cover your whole sheet about 2 inches deep minimum. If you are spreading seeds of native plants, use topsoil so the roots have access to nutrients and water. If you’ve already planted seedlings or plugs, mulch is fine.

Mulch will help to keep weeds away for the first year or so. You can always clear it away and cut through the cardboard sheet to add plants. The mulch will also decompose within a year or two, adding an organic layer to your soil.

Sheet mulch like a pro

That’s all there is to it! Prep, sheet, and mulch. You can convert huge areas of your lawn with this method using minimal labor. And it takes a while for weeds to move in.