Garbage Brings Nutrients to this Simple Success-Bound Garden

No. I’m not saying take your trash, dump it in your yard, and watch it bloom. But there are some materials people throw away like fruit/vegetable scraps, grass clippings, cardboard boxes (from all your amazon purchases), and newspaper that can be used as the foundation for this type of garden. If you’re like me and have a hard time keeping plants alive (RIP basil plant) then this is the answer to your plant killing problems.

My good friends Steve and Kevin from Bob Roth’s New River Grove gave me the solution. It’s called the Lasagna Garden; you’ll be layering “ingredients” (like lasagna) to create a nutrient rich, success-bound garden!

Screen Shot 2019-08-21 at 2.29.29 PM.png

Our Lasagna Garden Leaders

Steve (left) and Kevin (right) from Bob Roth’s New River Grove taught our team how to create a lasagna garden


There are tons of benefits to creating a lasagna garden:

  1. You’ll buy few to no materials because you already have them.

  2. Repurposing things that would otherwise be destined for the landfill keeps methane out of the atmosphere.

  3. No digging or tilling is required!

  4. You’ll have your own supply of herbicide and pesticide-free food.

  5. These fruits and vegetables don’t come wrapped in wasteful plastic.

  6. It’s a lot of fun to assemble and watch grow over time.

To see how we make a lasagna garden, check out our video here. For the wordy version, just scroll down.


To start building your garden you’ll need to identify your materials. A lasagna garden is created by alternating between “brown” and “green” layers.

We chose to collect these materials over time (freezing food scraps) and build the garden in one day, but you can also build the garden slowly over time, adding your layers as you accumulate the materials.

Screen Shot 2019-08-21 at 2.30.44 PM.png


Use one or any combination of these materials for your brown layers

Screen Shot 2019-08-21 at 2.31.10 PM.png


For best results avoid using citrus fruits and acidic foods (ex: tomatoes)


The lasagna garden is typically best to build in the fall, allowing it to ‘cook down’ and decompose over winter. In the spring, it will be ready to plant in, or you can make and plant one at any time of year if you live in a warmer climate.

  1. To begin, find a relatively flat area with at least a few hours of sun exposure per day, measure out and mark your gardening area. You can mark it with stakes, rope, or even a garden hose. This garden can be as small or large as you like. It’s best to make your garden a maximum of 4’ in width, but the length is up to you. It can be as large as 4’x13’ like ours, or as small as 4’ x 2’.

  2. For layer 1, take your old amazon boxes, junk mail, or newspaper and lay it down on the grass. This will kill the grass underneath, so not digging or tilling is required. Be sure to water it down to start the decomposition process (Bonus: the moisture attracts earthworms!).

  3. Next you’ll begin adding layers, alternating between Browns and Greens until the garden is about 2 feet in height. It’s recommended to use a 3:1 ratio of browns to greens, but as long as you alternate, the garden will grow.

  4. (Optional) After you’ve finished the layers, take mulch and disperse it around the edges of the garden. This gives a nice aesthetic look and keeps you out of the dirt when you’re tending to your garden.

  5. Water your garden down to begin the decomposition process, using enough water to saturate each layer.

  6. Let nature take its course and allow it to decompose. As this happens, your garden will visibly shrink down and become more uniform. If you planted in the fall, your garden will be ready for planting in the spring. If not, give it at least a couple of weeks to ‘cook down’ and begin planting.

  7. Because the lasagna garden is packed full of nutrients, you won’t need much (if any at all) fertilizer. Beyond that, maintain your garden as you would any other garden and enjoy your harvest!

Finished Lasgana Garden.jpg

Lasagna Garden Final Product

Milkweed was planted in the 4’ x 13’ garden built at Bob Roth’s New River Grove to keep the butterfly garden healthy and populated.

Jessica Moses