​​Sheet Mulching

​​Sheet Mulching

Posted by By Tammy Sons for Tennessee Wholesale Nursery on Aug 10, 2015

What is Sheet Mulching?

Sheet mulching is the composting method practiced in no-dig gardening. The idea behind the method is simple and makes perfect sense. Sheet mulch mimics the natural function of the forest. Sheet mulching is a low-maintenance, healthy way to keep a balanced ecosystem while promoting the robust growth of plant life. Mulching trees and plants are very, very necessary.

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Preparation and Construction

Before placing the sheet mulch, the area receiving the treatment should be leveled and cleared of weeds, grasses, and any existing plant life. You should test the soil for PH levels that will detect acidity and alkalinity. These levels can be tested using a PH testing kit, after which you treat the soil to adjust levels before laying down the sheet mulch. You should moisten the soil to help expedite the process of decomposition and to assist in drawing the nutrients into the soil. Perennial plants love added mulch too. Sheet mulch looks great around Forsythia shrubs too.

Sheet Mulch Composition

Proper sheet mulch begins with a layer of cardboard, called a weed barrier, because it blocks sunlight and prevents the growth of weeds. Cardboard is a slowly decomposing material that eventually works its way into the soil to provide nutrients. You can also use newspapers and old clothes instead. The weeds beneath this barrier decay, add even more nutrients into the soil and promote healthy growth. A layer of nutrient-rich soil is placed on the cardboard to simulate the A horizon in the earth’s soil hierarchy. A layer of wood and leaves is placed on top, simulating the forest floor, also called the O horizon. Although some gardeners allow sheet mulch to sit for some time before planting to allow the nutrients to penetrate the soil thoroughly, you can drop the seeds immediately upon completing the sheet mulch layers. You can buy cheap plants and mulch, and they will do exceptionally well and look like high-quality plants with mulching.

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Positives and Negatives of Sheet Mulching

There are numerous benefits of sheet mulching. To begin with, there is no digging involved. That leaves the food web beneath the soil undisturbed. Sheet mulching promotes healthier soil without the use of chemically enhanced fertilizer because everything being used is organic. The soil will retain water and nutrients longer, and there is less chance of soil erosion.

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There are some disadvantages to sheet mulching, such as the risk of animals disturbing the area or the need to resupply the area with additional compost materials. Still, the advantages of this technique far outweigh the disadvantages, making sheet mulch an ideal way to fertilize a garden in a way that promotes good health and vitality.

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