How To Build a No Dig Garden

A no-dig garden can be built on soil, over existing lawn or even on hard, barren ground. It’s a great way to recycle waste materials, and, once established, a no-dig garden is virtually maintenance free. No matter where you live or how fit you are, it’s an easy, cheap and practical way to grow plants.

Here are the basic materials you’ll need:

  • Edging material
  • Newspaper
  • 1-2 Bales straw or lucerne
  • Organic fertiliser
  • Well-rotted manure
  • Compost
  • Seedlings

No-Dig Garden Tips

  • Choose a sunny position with good drainage. If you are starting the garden on lawn and can’t remove the grass, keep it at bay by laying down some old carpet as a base for the other materials. With no oxygen or sunlight, the grass will eventually die off.
  • Decide what size your garden bed will be. The idea is to start with a small area, which you can expand later if you wish. Edge the bed with bricks, logs, rocks or railway sleepers – in fact, any material that will allow you to contain the soil.
  • To suppress weeds, cover the ground with a thick layer of wet newspaper, about 1 cm thick. Use plain rather than glossy sheets, and overlap the edges.
  • Cover the newspaper with pads of straw or lucerne. Next, add a layer of organic fertiliser, such as pellets of chicken manure or blood and bone.
  • Cover the fertiliser with a 20 cm layer of straw or lucerne. Add a generous amount of manure with further layers of straw or lucerne, then cover with a layer of compost.
  • Water the garden and allow it to settle for a few days.
  • Plant seedlings into the compost. Start with shallow-rooted vegetables, such as lettuce. As your garden begins to make its own compost, and the layers turn into rich, brown soil, plant deep-rooted crops such as carrot.