Sheet Mulching a Large Grass Lawn Area To Build A Food Forest

See Previous Posts Starting to Build a Food Forest, Where Did We Start?

And Building a Food Forest in Scotland. Starting with the Tree Layer (Year 1)

Where Did We Start From?

This area had the 8 Fruit Trees & Cages planted across the back. The idea was to sheet mulch the whole area around the cages so in 6mths time next Spring we would not only have stopped all the grass from growing but we would have some composted leaf mould soil covering this area ready to plant out more of our Food Forest

The space we are covering was 77ft long by 22ft wide and on a slight slope of about 15°

Full Grass Lawn When We Moved In
Feb 2019
Fruit Trees Put In
Summer 2019
Fruit Trees with the Fruit Cages & Where We Began
Oct 2021

Getting Started

We spent the whole 12mths collecting cardboard, we filled up a huge section of the garage, removing any tape or stickers and flat packing as we went.

This time last year we collected all the leaves from the garden & road weekly until they were all cleared to produce leaf mould compost to use for this project.

Leaf mould is made when autumn leaves are broken down by the slow action of fungi, rather than by bacteria that decompose other compost bin ingredients.

Pile leaves up separately in a bespoke leaf mould bin or cage and you’ll have the perfect material to use for mulching and potting in years to come.

Source: Gardeners World

This Is What Our Leaf Mould Looked Like
Oct 2021

Using the cardboard we lay it over the grass (we did not cut it first as it was too wet & some areas were over 12” high, just flattened it down with our feet) making sure to overlap every piece of cardboard by a good 6” and checking any flaps had cardboard underneath, so there was no gaps at all. Ideally 2 layers would have been good but this was a huge space to cover we went with 1, but very overlapped.

Fruit Cages Were Removed & Cardboard Cut Around
Fresh Bag Of Compost Were Put around the Fruit Trees, Fruit Bushes, Chives & Strawberries
Fruit Cages Put Back On And Pinned Back In Which Also Held The Cardboard In Place While We Worked Around The Area
The First Section Completed And Ready To Be Filled Up With Mulch

First Session

From here we started to pile on a layer of fresh leaves from around the garden, followed by cut grass and last years leaves that had made leave mould. Making it at least 6″ deep. We had to do this section by section as it was a lot of work moving the compost/leaves/leaf mould across the garden from the compost bins over to where it needed to be. At the end of every section we completed, we hosed it all down to make sure the cardboard was wet at the bottom so it didn’t start sliding down the slope and everything on top was heavy enough not only to hold the cardboard down, but wet and sticky enough for it not to move in the wind.

Hosing down

Clayton is studying on the Grow and Learn Course with the Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society. Clayton is 14, Autistic, Non Verbal & is being Home Educated & Works in the Garden on All The Tasks With Me. Check out our Instagram for daily updates: Katrina & Clayton – Building a Food Forest Scotland

This doesn’t even look like a lot that was done here as it is on a slope, this first section was 22ft long by 10ft wide. The 30ltr potato buckets were put around all the edge as I was convinced that they whole thing would just blow way….that did not happen, even during the stormy high wind weather.

Second & Third Session

The weather was not on our side for a few days so we were only getting out there for a few hours at a time to get the next section completed. We worked across 2 fruit cages sections at a time. By the time we had got to this point we have covered 4 of the 8 Fruit cages.

Fourth Session

This section took us across cages 5 and 6 and right up to the last cages 7 and 8. These two at this end had not grown as well as the others, they are shaded by the large hedge of trees (which we plan on taking down back to the hedging it was originally met to be, but had been left to grow).

We decided that there was enough space at the other end to move these Fruit Trees in-between the large square fruit cage and the fruit cages 1 and 2. These will be moved next Spring.

It was at this point that we started to run out of cardboard, home made compost, grass cuttings, leaf mould…pretty much everything half way through.

Managed to collect cardboard from the local community by posting on a local Facebook group. Leaves were falling rapidly luckily so I took to setting the lawn mower on the highest setting and whipping them up, this worked really well as the leaves were chopped up into smaller pieces, making composting over the next 6mths an easier task as they were already part broken down.

After spending hours sweeping up leaves on the road, I also took the lawn mower down there, which made a way better job of it than just sweeping and in just 20mins instead of a few hours. I spend my time collecting all these leaves in builders tonne bags until I was ready to use them.

Fifth & Last Session

This was the last section and session that was to be done, again due to weather this was done over a few days a few hours at at a time, completing the full 70ft by 22ft section.

From start to finish this took us 5 weeks, due to weather, collecting more cardboard and collecting all the leaves up to use.

This last section was going back to the other end and filling in the section between the large square Fruit Cage and the smaller round Fruit Trees to be able to move trees 7 & 8 over to this space in the Spring.

Before We Started This Area & Now
Before & After

Looking forward to planting this all out next Spring


Yr 1 – April 2019- April 2020

Yr 2 – April 2020- April 2021

➡️ Yr 3 – April 2021- April 2022

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This blog is from the 🟦 Blue Food Forest Area.

Other related blogs from this area are:

Published by buildingafoodforestscotland

Building a Food Forest -Scotland Edwardian 1903 Home & Garden in Scotland Planting With Permaculture Design

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