Sheet Mulching 101 (part 2 of 2)

Want to see how an average home in Los Angeles can save almost 100,000 gallons of water per year? Here is TreePeople member and volunteer Valerie Fontaine, converting her yard to a sustainable site. With a simple DIY project, Valerie transformed her garden in a weekend.

Following Part 1 of our tutorial, here are your sheet-mulching FAQs:

Is it really as simple as it sounds? Just put down cardboard or newspaper, dump mulch, keep moist, and wait? Is that it?

Is there a good time?
Sure, right now. The wetter winter weather of SoCal is ideal. But just like tree planting, almost anytime is a good time. There’s no time like the present.

What do I plant instead of grass?
Native plants are the best choice. But most plants that are climate-appropriate are a nice way to go. They both save water. The natives, however, will attract more local insects and birds, which support our local wildlife and habitats.

So, how much water?
Natives use 85% less water than turf. When an average home in L.A. replaces turf with natives and installs some simple rain water harvesting techniques (like rain barrels and rain gardens), that home saves more than 90,000 gallons of water annually. With all the homes in L.A., it doesn’t take long to understand the incredible power of this DIY project!

Will sheet mulching alone end the water crisis?
No, but it certainly can’t hurt.

Need more inspiration? Come to our next Community Sustainability Workshops on February 23 to learn other water harvesting and turf reduction techniques to grow a green city.

Read Part 1 of Sheet Mulching 101


By Lisa Cahill

Lisa Cahill first began her work with TreePeople as a volunteer Citizen Forester. She currently serves on the board of directors for the reDiscover Center, continues to volunteer as a Citizen Forester, has been on the Mar Vista Green Garden Tour and serves on several green committees at her church and children's schools. She most enjoys working in the garden with her husband, watching her children and vegetables grow.