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Agriscaping Week 34 - “Back to Eden” Method of Sheet Mulching

This week I’m sharing about a much longer project - the laying down of groundcover in the backyard. We went back and forth about what we wanted, and finally landed on the “Back to Eden” method of sheet mulching because it rejuvenates the soil everywhere, and creates good soil, even over the dead caliche top layer of Phoenix.

The BTE method includes the following layers:

- cardboard, newspaper or paper bottom layer

- deodorized manure or pond dredgings middle layer

- minimum of 6” of wood chips over the top, the more the better!

First, before we could start, we had to regrade down about 6” because it had to be lower than we had expected in order to do the wood chips. If we were doing it again, we’d definitely plan ahead and do the grading when we had the machinery - it was a long, painful process to dig out an additional 6” by shovel!

Despite all the work we’d done with the track hoe originally, we still had to use the pickaxe to break up the soil before we could shovel it out. Gotta love Phoenix‘s native dirt!

Then we headed dumpster diving to get enough cardboard, and we were able to get enough for free that way. Honestly, the hardest part about the process was taking all the tape off of the cardboard boxes (because it doesn’t biodegrade). Especially when the chickens tried to eat the cardboard, tape and occasional styrofoam stuck to the boxes!

Here you see the process - we laid cardboard, wet it down, and then covered with manure. After spreading, we brought in the wood chips, one wheelbarrow at a time. Thankfully there’s a service ( that will drop off free truckloads of chips. You just have to have space in the front yard to store it, and then labor to move it when you’re ready. Thankfully we had both, so free groundcover was definitely better than having to pay for it!

Keywords: Back to Eden Method in Phoenix, Soil Rejuvination Groundcover Arizona, Agriscaping, FAB5, Sheet Mulching your Backyard

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