This week Gardens4u and the volunteer garden team at Ruddy Shenkman Hospice (RSH) created a wildflower/butterfly garden using the “lasagna method.” This technique is used to smother grass instead of digging it up, saving both our back muscles and the nutrients (nitrogen) within the grass.
What Layers to Use in Lasagna Method
Use large pieces of cardboard, or any other compostable ingredients, ending with a layer of soil. A warning though: be sure to choose items that will not entice rodents to dig up your garden. We did try newspaper too, especially over the cracks/holes in the cardboard. It was so windy though that the lightweight paper was difficult to hold in place. We used small stones (you can see some in the pictures) to hold the layers in place.
If time permits (before the snow flies) we hope to add another compostable layer to the “lasagna” over the seeds in the form of mulched leaves. The leaves will also help hold the seeds and bits of newspaper in place.
Plants of Choice for a Butterfly Garden
After the cardboard and soil were layered over the lawn, we sprinkled seeds over the soil. We used tall, flat, and large-flowered, butterfly-loving, native perennials and self-sowing annuals. I chose various coneflowers, tall phlox, monarda (AKA beebalm), joe pye weed, globe thistles, black-eyed-susans, filipendula, asters, and many others. All were harvested from my own or clients’ gardens.
In the spring we plan to supplement the seedlings (if necessary) with plant donations (if you live in my area, contact me when dividing your perennials in the spring). We will move some seedlings around for a lush, but informal wildflower look to contrast with the existing formal beds created and tended over the years.
Flagstones were added to create a meandering path through the garden. These stepping stones also enable our garden team to access sections of the garden for maintenance such as watering and weeding.
Finishing touches in the spring will also include tidying up the outer edge of the garden for a neater appearance. I may or may not add shorter perennials to the outer edges. I am still undecided about that call as I do not want to ruin the informal, natural look.
Here are some pictures of the lasagna procedure, in chronological order:
That’s me on the phone, ordering more soil from Lancosa Landscaping who delivered two loads of garden soil on short notice. They also generously donated the second load after learning about this volunteer project at the RSH.
Great work team! Many thanks to those of you who donated your time and muscle power, cardboard, newspapers, and seeds.
Stay tuned for a spring update!