For some time now, I have wanted to develop a shade bed in the area around a small copse of trees that supports my children’s tree house.  The big deterrent, however, has been the difficulty of digging in the heavily compacted, tree-root laden, stony ground surrounding the trees.  What little I have managed to do up there has taken far longer than it should and has led to much greater frustration than it should!145 So, inspired by A Student Gardener and Pam’s English Cottage Garden, I have decided to give lasagna gardening a try in that space. The kids and I went to Home Depot and bought some ingredients.  I knew that a fifteen year old boy is a handy thing to take along when you plan to buy several bags of manure and pine bark mulch, but  it turns out that a nearly thirteen year old girl can be a big help, too.  Just don’t get in her way when she’s steering the fully loaded cart!  When we got home, my son was happy to rig up the wagon to the lawn tractor to haul the bags of manure and peat moss up the hill.  003

Now we were ready to get started.  First, I marked out the area for the bed:

001I used a garden claw type of tool to loosen the soil just a bit, since it was quite dry and solidly compacted. Next, we laid a layer of newspaper over the grass, at least three or four sheets thick.  This will help kill the grass and weeds.  Then we watered the newspaper well. 146I sprinkled seven bags worth of composted manure over the newspaper (about an inch total coverage) and watered it again.

When my son mowed our neighbor’s lawn last week, he collected the grass clippings for me.  They were the next layer, about two inches thick.  Of course we watered them.008Our last step today took us into the woods next to our house,027where we raked up five wheelbarrows full of old leaves.  018Look at this lovely, rich soil we uncovered!  It will become a lasagna layer tomorrow.022We spread the brown layer of leaves about four inches thick on top of the two inches of grass clippings, watered them, and called it a day.  More layers tomorrow, including some wheelbarrow loads of that lovely forest loam!033