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How to Make a New Garden Bed - The Newspaper Method


The “newspaper method” for starting a garden bed is somewhat similar to making a lasagna garden, except that it is, impossibly enough, even easier.

This method works great in those cases where you need to get rid of a lot of sod, such as when you're adding a flower bed or shrub border to an existing lawn. The only drawback is that it requires patience. The process begins in the fall, but you won't be able to plant the bed until the following spring.

Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: Dependent on how large the new garden bed will be.

Here's How:

  1. Measure out the area you want for your new garden.
  2. Layer newspapers directly on top of the sod. Four to five sheets thick is ideal. Overlap your newspapers by a few inches.
  3. Wet down the newspapers to keep them in place.
  4. Cover the newspapers with a layer of leaves or bark mulch. It doesn't need to be deep, just enough to hide the newspapers from sight.
  5. Wait until spring.
  6. Once spring arrived, you are ready to plant. Here's what to do if you are sowing seeds:

    Slice a straight line as long as you would like your row to be, then slice another one about 2 inches away from the first one. Remove this strip of newspaper, and plant your seed in what is now compost, since the grass has decomposed, leaving nothing but good organic matter behind.

    Once the seedlings emerge, mulch around them. If you have a lot of space between seedlings, you can also add fresh newspaper to any spots that will stay bare, and then cover the newspaper with mulch. This will help keep your new garden weed free.

  7. If you are planting transplants:

    Move the mulch aside, and slice an “X” slightly larger than your rootball into the newspaper. Pull the flaps back.

    Dig your hole, place the plant in, and backfill. Water thoroughly.

    Bring the flaps of newspaper back down to cover the exposed soil. You don't want any paper touching the plant (it can cause rot) so simply fold under any newspaper that is near the plant stem or trunk.

    Cover with mulch (again, keeping it a couple of inches back from the base of the plant) and you're done.


  1. Wet the newspaper down as you set it over the grass to keep it from blowing away before you put the mulch or leaves over it.
  2. If you use leaves, it is best to chop them by running over them with a lawn mower first.
  3. If you want the bed to have a nice, clean edge, use a spade or edging tool to cut through the sod, digging out a small trench that will divide the new bed from the lawn.

What You Need

  • Newspapers
  • Hose or Watering Can
  • Chopped Leaves or Bark Mulch
  • Patience!
Related Video
Turn Garden Waste to Compost
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