Removing sod vs layering straw and cardboard


I’m looking to creating a 25 ‘ x 15 ‘. Rather than trip sod, I was going to smother it with cardboard, straw, cardboard. Then cover with mulch.
Later I would plant a few bushes, flowers etc.
Will this work….or should I strip the sod?



Thank you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners.

Both removing sod and covering the area with mulch will create the garden bed however removing the sod is much more labor intensive. Both techniques require the thick 6-8 inch layer of mulch. The mulch will serve to retain moisture and will help create healthy soil with good structure as well as help keep weeds and grass from growing into the bed. You are best using mulches that are not made from bark as those do not break down as readily and do not hold moisture as well as wood chips.

If you choose to layer the mulch on the grass you should first cut the grass. Using two layers of cardboard and a layer of straw is probably more excessive than you need to be. It will take a very long time for the cardboard and straw to decompose. This will mean you have a long wait before it becomes a real garden. It should be sufficient to put a couple of layers of newspaper down before the mulch. this should break down sufficiently in a season. If you choose to you can probably add some of the shrubs you would like to add to the garden when you are initially preparing the bed. Just be sure the shrubs do not have the mulch up against their woody stem as that will encourage rot.

Good luck and enjoy your new garden!