Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Anyone For Lasagna?

New Lasagna Garden
I mentioned in my "Crabapple Blossoms" posting that I was extending the shade garden using the lasagna method. My good friend Laura of Patio Patch, who gardens in England, wondered if it meant the bed would not be ready for planting for a while. As you can see, Laura, just a couple of weeks have passed and it's all finished! All I did was put down a thick layer of newspaper, followed by a layer of mulch, then more newspaper. I added a layer of peatmoss, and topped it with more mulch. I watered each layer thoroughly before adding the next. I let the new bed "sit" for a week-or-two before planting.

The term for this layering method was coined by Patricia Lanza who wrote the book Lasagna Gardening. The book's subtitle is A New Layering System for Bountiful Gardens: No Digging, No Tilling, No Weeding, No Kidding! I think that says it all - she does not exaggerate! Actually, I started gardening in this way long before I knew about her book. I did it out of necessity, when I found I couldn't get a spade to penetrate the rocky soil of the Pocono Mountains. There is a joke in this neighborhood, "What is a trowel called in the Poconos?" The answer is, "A backhoe!" (That's a "digger" to my British friends.)

I began making the shade garden in 2005, using the no-dig method. Here are some before-and-after pictures...

I marked out the area with rocks -- free rocks are plentiful on this mountain!
I began the layering process.
I added a focal point (statue) and plantings. Note there was no stockade fence back then.
I made a small seating-area where the new lasagna bed now resides.
Shade garden today extended to the picket fence.
If you look back to my lead picture in this posting, you will see that in the new bed I planted three hostas, three ferns, and a sweetshrub.  For ground cover I added lamium and sweet woodruff. This is how the shade garden looked this morning from outside the picket fence ...

The lovely shrub against the stockade fence is a mock orange.

Mock orange Philadelphus coronarius
As well as finishing the new bed, I did a few other gardening jobs this weekend, such as (rather a lot of) weeding in the cottage garden -- with all the rain, the weeds act like they are on steroids.  I started planting the vegetable garden. Also, I needed to cut back some of the perennial bullies, including a rather unruly honeysuckle ...

The pink honeysuckle on the other arbor is much better behaved ...

Pink Honeysuckle Lonicera hispidula

Lonicera hispidula

 The first of my many clematis is in bloom ....

Clematis Clematis x jackmanii 'Mrs. Cholmondeley'

 I have several types of iris. This is my favorite ...

Iris Iris sibirica

 The rhododendron is putting on a superb show this year ...

Rhododendron spp.

Rhododendron spp.

I hope those of you who celebrate Memorial Day had a wonderful holiday weekend! Like many other families, we had our first cookout of the season. After an early-morning thunder storm, the weather cooperated. Now we are entering a heat wave. Oh, dear, and I am still planting my vegetable garden -- but that's a posting for next week ...

Happy Gardening!
Pamela x

Astolat Farm

~~ I love reading your comments. I hope you leave one so I’ll know you visited!
I look forward to visiting your blog in return.


  1. Hi Pam,

    Things are looking very nice indeed...

    I haven't heard of this lasagne gardening but have in some ways begun to do it myself but instead my intention is that worms take the compost/mulch down into the ground and over time the clay soil becomes much better quality and I'm more able to dig it.

  2. Pam, everything looks fantastic. The hostas in the lasagne bed look so green and lush. I guess the rainy weather has helped!

    What a great idea to use the area to put chairs on, while waiting for the garden to be ready to plant.

    Well done!

  3. What a beautiful new bed you have! We use cardboard instead of newspapers, and still we have problems with the bermuda grass. Otherwise, this is the easiest way to get a new garden area started! Good pics of the layering process.

  4. I love your shady gardens - so cool and peaceful. Though we garden in totally different environments, I found your blog so enjoyable and think others will, too, so I've linked it with mine. Can't wait to see your new bed grow over the season.

  5. Your gardens are doing beautifully. When I come to PA I would love to stop in and see them. My uncle lives in the Poconos so I do get there on occasion.

  6. What a lovely new bed you have. I do love hostas but only have a couple which reside in pots, they get eaten by slugs in the ground. Your rhododendron is blooming well.

  7. Pam, your garden is looking quite beautiful!!

  8. What kind of mulch did you use, Pam? Looks like shredded cedar? Both layers the same?

  9. Dear Pam, as always your garden looks wonderful. You have truly created an amazing place to enjoy. I love the idea of Lasagna gardenening and I think I will try it in one off my beds.
    M xx

  10. Pam I never heard of this style of gardening. Everything is so green, tidy, and cute!

    I like the way you have used the Lasagna method in your garden, this method has worked beautifully.

    I'll try to remember to use it in the future. Thank you for sharing.

  11. I am so glad you had some before and after pictures. Your beds look so very nice. Even though we struggle to dig in our clay soil, sometimes with rocks, I can't imagine what it must be like to dig in your rocky soil. This seems to be such a great solution.

  12. Great method for starting a new bed. Do you have to remove grass first or can you just layer on top of it?

  13. This looks pretty easy and a good idea for me to try in the backyard in an area that needs a little help.
    I will have to hunt down some newspapers since we don't get it anymore. Thanks, Pam!
    P.s. your blooms are gorgeous, as usual. Hope you are well.

  14. Dear Pam - so happy to pop back and see your lasagna garden planted up. I had assumed the paper would take longer to break down and you would have to cut through it to plant. Next time I decide to extend the border will do this as the top soil here rather like the Pocono's. Now you have seating in the shade area, can visualise this as my perfect spot to view the garden's vista.
    Master gardening indeed!

  15. Pam, I love the new lasanga garden space! It is awesome. Your plantings look wonderful. The honeysuckle growing over your arbor I know smells heavenly.

  16. I love the lasagna method of gardening. It's the best way to build beds down here too, because of our heavy clay soil. Your shade garden looks very inviting. Lovely!

  17. Everything is beautiful in your garden. I love honeysuckle and it looks so pretty on your arbor, but it takes over here if I don't cut it back often. I hope to see pics of your vegetable garden, am late planting mine.

  18. Pam the garden is beautiful. I started ayer gardening here because of the clay although I never used newspaper...I have heard of this lasagna method and have been intrigued...if I find a patch that is spare I may give it a go...

  19. Your garden looks so lovely! That corner garden looks so nice, well done! The white pickets make it look so charming too. I just planted a honeysuckle and I sure hope it gets as beautiful as yours has grown!

  20. It is a great thing to see the development of your plantings over time! That plants grow is the best part of gardening! I keep hearing about the layered technique you used. I would like to use it directly under trees. Do you think it would kill the roots? I would never forgive myself...

  21. Pam - this all looks wonderful! So enticing that I shall have to come and visit one day! Do please keep posting as the season progresses. :-) Charlotte

  22. I had no idea the kind of gardening I was doing had a name. I have been doing because the clay soil here in MO is just hard to dig. I started a shade garden last year too. Yours in filling in very nicely. Thanks for sharing.

  23. Thank you for explaining the process of 'lasagne gardening' - I read about someone else doing it but I only guessed what it meant. If your garden is anything to go by it is a great way to garden. I'll try a sample bed here somewhere, although I think the form of couch grass I have would grow through even this lasagne! Christina

  24. Hi Pam, I've heard of lasagne gardening and you have obviously been very successful at it. Which I suspect also has something to do with your qualities as a gardener! Don't you have any qualms about all that ink from the newspapers seeping into the ground? Maybe it's harmless, I don't know. All your other flowers are doing wonderfully.

  25. Wonderful post! A garden I designed for a friend has raised "layered" beds, which she loves because it brings the plants closer (though just a half foot) to the viewer.

    Smelling the mock orange is one of my favorite garden pass-times.

    I am enjoying learning about your garden, Pam.

  26. Your garden looks great! is so good that you got a gardening style that works well for you and helps you to avoid digging in hard soil

  27. Thank you, dear gardening friends, for visiting and leaving great comments!

    Sherry -- welcome and thank you for adding my blog to your blogroll. I have returned the favor.

    Donna (GWGT) -- I would love you to stop by, next time you are in PA!

    Diane -- Thanks for commenting TWICE! I mulched with mushroom compost this year. I may add cedar bark, later.

    Carolyn -- When lasagna gardening, you don't need to remove the grass first -- just mow it short.

    Linnie -- I don't recommend layering and planting under trees.

    Charlotte -- I would be honored if you visit my garden.

    Barbara -- Black newspaper ink is made from soy these days.I avoid using colored ink in a lasagna garden.

    Thanks again, everyone. P. x

  28. I am so interested in this layered Lasagna Gardening - I'm just reading in my permaculture e-book "Gaia's Garden" about Sheet Mulching. It is similar but yours seems so much more easy to do. Thank you for this! I really want to try this in my new veggie beds for my back garden design. B x

  29. Pam,

    I love the garden! I've been reading a lot on lasagna gardening and would like to use it to establish my perennial flower beds. How do you maintain the lasagna beds each year.