What is no dig gardening anyway? The no dig garden method involves creating a garden on top of the existing ground, without digging to remove the grass, plants, or weeds that are currently growing there. No dig gardening benefits the soil by not upsetting the soil's existing microbiome. Have you ever wondered how plants seem to grow so easily in the wild, with absolutely no human care, and you struggle to grow similar plants when you carefully water and care for them each week? Part of the reason is this important soil microbiome layer.
If no dig gardening sounds too easy to be true, I promise I am not pulling your leg. Building a no dig garden bed works amazingly well and requires minimal effort. As well, it is better for the soil. Let's take a look at how to make your own no dig flower or veggie garden out of cardboard and compost.
How to Make a No Dig Garden Bed
No Dig Garden Layers
The first layer of your no dig garden bed should be cardboard or layers of newspaper. You want to lay a thick enough layer with no gaps exposed so that whatever is growing underneath will not survive. In my own no dig garden beds, I have used one layer of cardboard but have tried to make sure it overlaps by 3 inches to adjoining cardboard. Once you have laid down your cardboard, water it until it is completely drenched to help it adhere to the ground beneath, as well as to help it begin the breaking down process.
As this organic material under the cardboard breaks down it will add nutrients to the soil. Over one to three years, the cardboard or newspaper will break down as well. Once the cardboard layer is broken down, your garden will have access to the nutrients below it.
The next layer of your no dig garden should be 10 to 12 inches of compost. (It will compact when you water it. Aim to have it 6 inches deep once wet.) Once the compost is added, give the bed another good soak with water. The compost will start the process of breaking down the cardboard and ground beneath it.