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Official Blog of the UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County
by Rebecca Suzanne
on June 24, 2015 at 3:01 PM
Hi. I was glad to see that you reviewed sheet mulching under the "physical removal" section of this article, although you didn't mention it by name. I would love to have seen it get it's own paragraph, right up at the top of the article.  
Sheet mulching is one of the easiest and most environmentally friendly ways to eliminate a lawn. With sheet mulching, no chemicals are used and the lawn does not need to be removed. Simply cut the grass down as low as you can, leave the clippings where they fall, layer cardboard, newspaper, or some other untreated carbon-based material on top, sprinkle an inch of compost on top, then finish with 3-6 inches of mulch. In between each layer, sprinkle with water. All of these materials can be acquired for free and depending on the size of your lawn, the process can be completed in a few hours. If you're not planning on planting the area immediately, you can even eliminate the layer of compost; the grass clippings, cardboard, and mulch will breakdown into a delicious collection of plant nutrients in a few months. The mulch and cardboard will block light so the lawn will not regrow.  
The Bay-Friendly Coalition has a great video tutorial on sheet mulching, half-way down on this web page:
Reply by Stephen I Morse
on June 25, 2015 at 9:32 AM
Thank you for commenting on the above post. The original response from the MGCC Help Desk provided advice on alternatives to replacing a lawn with the client's proposed Zen Garden, basically a decorative gravel or sand mulch, carefully placed rocks, and possibly some specimen plants. As such, the basic theme was removal advice and options.  
MGCC's Help Desk agrees that sheet mulching is the preferred method of replacing your lawn when you intend to replant or leave bark as the finished material. MGCC's Option A in its guidance flier "Your Lawn During Drought" ( recommends "Sheet Mulch Your Lawn" based on the Bay Friendly Coalition guidance that you cited ( )
by rebecca suzanne
on June 28, 2015 at 3:25 PM
Hi Stephen,  
Thanks for your reply. It seems like sheet mulching could still be used in the Zen Garden scenario. Instead of using a carbon-based mulch, the sand or gravel can serve as a mulch.
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