Photo by Melody

Lasagna Gardening

By Mary Frucelli (MFrucelliMay 11, 2014

Layered or "Lasagna Gardening" as it is sometimes called, may be the answer you have been looking for. This process is not just for the lazy gardener. Layered gardening can easily be done by anyone with physical limitations, if you do not want to build a frame for a raised bed, or if you do not want to dig up your existing soil and grass. If you have hard clay soil, rocky soil, thick grass or weeds, layered gardening can help you make a vegetable garden where you thought you couldn't have one.

Gardening picture

Perhaps the reason you want to have a layered garden is because you need to extend a raised bed you already have or you would like to create your first raised bed. Layered gardening can be done anywhere utilizing smart planning. I never had the right location to make a special compost pile. With layered gardening you can have your raised bed and compost pile all in one. It will only get better with age as you continue to add more layers.

What a great way to use your leaves, twigs, wood ash, grass clippings, vegetable scraps and coffee grounds.

A layered garden can be started any time of the year, but if you begin it during the fall, it will have plenty of time to decompose by spring. You can begin the process in the spring but you need to make sure you have enough soil on the top of the pile to plant. A layered garden is really a compost pile that you will eventually plant on.

Layered gardening ingredients should consist of the following:

  • The first layer needs to be cardboard or a fairly thick layer of newspaper. Be sure to remove any staples, plastic, tape or stickers. This is a carbon or brown layer.
  • The next layer should be a layer of nitrogen which can be compost, grass clippings, coffee grounds and kitchen vegetable scraps. This is considered a green layer.
  • The next layer should be another carbon or brown layer. This could be leaves, twigs, wood ash, pine straw, shredded newspaper, or wheat straw.
  • The next layer should be another layer of nitrogen or green layer consisting of more vegetable scraps, grass clippings, compost or coffee grounds.


Keep making alternate layers of the carbon (brown) and nitrogen (green) layers until the garden is as high as you would like it. Plan on the garden shrinking in size as it decomposes. Wet the pile thoroughly and let nature take its course creating a garden with lots of natural nutrients. After a month you can turn over or mix the garden if you like but you don't need to do this.

When you are ready to plant on your layered garden, make sure to have a good amount of garden soil and compost on the top of the pile. This will give you a good base of soil to plant on. It is like planting on top of a bale of wheat straw. Dig down into the pile where you would like to plant, apply some garden soil or compost, then place your seeds or plants in the hole filling all around it with more soil and compost.

Continue adding to your layered garden every year and it will keep making its own natural compost. You will have great success planting on your layered garden and the more it decomposes, the more your plants will love it.

  About Mary Frucelli  
Mary FrucelliMary is a contributing writer to Dave's Garden. Originally from outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Mary has lived in six different states up and down the east coast from Vermont to Florida. Currently living in North Carolina, she enjoys cooking and growing different varieties of flowers, herbs, vegetables and fruits. Mary spends a lot of her spare time reaping the rewards of her garden and sharing her culinary creations with family and friends.

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