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Cardboard Gardening

Our first article about using cardboard in the garden was written in 2014.   Starla takes up this subject again below. Save your cardboard, and read her instructions.

Some tasks in the garden are not glamorous-ok a lot of garden tasks are that way-weeding, deadheading, and putting down mulch to name a few. With covid restrictions and shelter in place requirements keeping me at home,  several of the mundane jobs finally got my attention.

The trees have been trimmed, beds transformed,  plant material rearranged,  and, with the help of my husband, areas were weeded that were long overdue.

Now I need to mulch the paths in the area which were formerly my raised garden bed. You see, several years ago, I was inspired by friends to plant a vegetable garden and wrote about it in Dallas Garden Buzz.

I am a social gardener, so veggie gardening solo, was not as fruitful as I had hoped and now my beds are filled with weeds and paths are not walk-able. I wasn’t sure what to do about this problem until I read our garden’s weekly email.  Instructions on how to lay cardboard and mulch for a new garden area were included. Perfect timing!

Cardboard layer, mulch will be put on top

While at the garden, I found  cardboard had already been laid in several layers and then I came across Master Gardener intern, Dotti Franz. Tirelessly and seemingly indefatigable she was working to cover the 8 x 20 patch of cardboard with mulch.  It was hot with no shade, not ideal weather but because of determined Dotti I was inspired to pitch in and work with her.

Now it’s my turn in my yard.  These simple steps will help me as I take back yet another area of my yard!

Finished project, Dotti has covered the cardboard layer with mulch.

Here are the steps:
·        Place cardboard down overlapping and possibly several layers–
·       BE SURE THAT TAPE IS REMOVED FROM THE CARDBOARD BEFORE LAYING IT DOWN -the cardboard will decompose but the tape will NOT and it will be a nuisance.
·       Water the cardboard after it has been placed where you want it. – The heavier material is not likely to move and shift as much and the mulch has a better chance of sticking.  It will need to be watered again before all the mulch is distributed.
·       Put mulch down
·       If you have to transport mulch from a pile, a ”mulching”  pitchfork and wheelbarrow are needed-– we came to love the gorilla dump cart–Pull the lever and the back dumps!
·       Place the mulch on the cardboard and spread it with the flexible tine leaf rake.
·       Continue by overlapping where you’ve already been and then rake it to achieve coverage and the 4 inches of mulch –
·        After the mulch has been laid down, water it so it doesn’t blow away – There was a slight breeze which helped with our perspiration but not the fly away mulch.
This is not a one time job, good mulch will last a year or so, then you will need to have new mulch added.  Remember, the mulch is used to improve your soil and to keep weeds down and some people like it for its aesthetics.
Supplies:
  • Cardboard (the larger the better) – Remember remove tape
  • Water hose / water
  • Mulch – we have rough shredded tree mulch delivered to our garden —   bags are options as well
  • Rake with flexible tines
  • Wheel barrow to transport
  • “Mulching” pitchfork to move from pile to wheelbarrow
  • Water – moving mulch is hard work and we need to stay hydrated — before, during and after
  • Hat
  • Gloves
Thanks Jon, Fern, and Dotti for inspiring me and letting me know that I can do it.  I will tackle this job now that the weather is cooler.
Starla Willis
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