Easy Sidewalk Garden with Sheet Mulching

So here was the slope to our sidewalk. Ugly, eroding, and nearly impossible to mow or maintain. 

Figuring out what to do with this has been a major challenge for us, as the conventional wisdom is to repeatedly spray with poisons to defoliate the slope, then plant it with a garden. 
But we don’t use chemicals at Lillie House, so we had to find a different way. 
Our way also had to be easy, cheap, and easy to maintain long-term. We dont’ want to have to spend any time weeding, watering or maintaining this slope. 
On top of that, it would be nice if it were multi-purpose, as we don’t necessarily want to eat food grown next to our high-traffic street, but we also don’t want to “waste” the space. 
Anyway, we will come back to add some finishing touches and plant this new garden in the Fall, so that it’s ready for next year, but this is what it looks like after a day of work:

It’s pretty self-explainitory, but keep reading if you’d like the details of how we did it. 
Our strategy begins with installing 2″*8″ edging to hold mulch in place and prevent erosion and then “sheet mulching” the slope. (Sheet Mulching is basically putting down a weed barrier, in our case newspaper and cardboard, then layering a thick pile of mulch on top of it with a good balance of “green” and “brown” material such as you would with composting.
First, we edged the sidewalk:

Next, we installed Edging
We explored several different techniques, but we basically just needed something that would keep the sidewalk clean and clear and help hold on our mulch. 

Then we began sheet mulching. We cut a large amount of organic material from our hedgerow, including comfrey, grass, yarrow and sunchokes to help fertilize the soil. We also added a little finished compost. Then we started putting down the newspaper and cardboard. The only trick to this was installing a few horizontal rails and sticks pinned down with ground stakes to help hold the cardboard down and hold the newspaper in place. Finally, we mulched over the cardboard with whatever organic matter we had on hand and then finished that off with a thick layer of wood mulch from the free municiple mulch lot. 

Now, we’re ready to come back and plant this slope this Fall with a special mix of ornamental plants that will be low maintanance and still provide us with a good “yield” that we can harvest from this garden. We’ll post more on that when it’s planting time!

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