I wanted to build my gardens with the least work possible since i have a relatively big yard. When I bought the house my front and back yard didn’t seem THAT big. But the first time I mowed them I learned otherwise. So, when I thought about adding gardens I knew I was in for a lot of work. I decided to that I'd try to add more beds with each change of season and eventually I’d have to whole yard in gardens.

That’s a lot of urban garden!  Therefore, I wanted the transition from grass to garden to be the least labor intensive I could make it.  I'm striving to make this life of changing the world be as easy as such a task can be :-)

I did some studying and based on what I learned in my Master Gardener class, and my low-to-no budget I decided to try a sheet mulch. The tilling required is much less if you sheet mulch then build a raised bed.**  And in Tacoma you can get locally made TAGRO products for really inexpensive.  Sheet mulch is also a nice method to use to start building a super healthy, loam soil So I went at it.

Building the bed. 
In late fall, I raked all the leaves that had fallen into my yard over where the new bed was going in. The leaves turned out to be a depth of about 2” inches dry and maybe 1/4” to 1/2” wet. On top of that I put about 1/4” TAGRO Mix and then a layer of cardboard boxes. Then I just waited for the bugs and worms and bacteria to do their thing.

When spring came I built a frame around the bed with leftover pieces of 2x6 and rocks. My sheet mulch was decomposing nicely. When I lifted up the cardboard and dug under the leaves the grass was totally gone. I didn’t see any signs of it!

****I wish I could put pictures here. Unfortunately, my computer hard drive ate everything on it and I lost a ton of pictures.****

The under-side of the cardboard was also beginning to be eaten. I considered this a good sign so I piled on 5-7” or so of soil. I figured the bugs would work their magic in plenty of time for the roots of my greens and garlic to be able to grow to their desired depth. Turns out the greens root zone isn't very deep and the garlic did just fine!

Update: Writing this post about 6 months after I put this bed in I can say I've little to no issue with weeds or grass. The first month or so I had three or four weeds and grass work their way through my mulch, but they were easily plucked as youngins. I love this method so far for ease of installation and weed control. I used a slightly different method for some beds I just started out back

Last spring I also built 2 of these back yard square foot gardens in the same way:

Baby Garden

Gardens All Grown Up

**I actually ended up not tilling these beds at all.  The mulch decomposed deep enough that the depth once soil was added was great for the spring greens I wanted to grow.  I just poked around with a pitch fork to make drainage holes.  You can see from the pictures that this worked out great.

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