We recently laid down over our lawn, butcher paper, then cardboard, and on top of all that about 4-5 inches of wood-chips thanks to a local tree company who was in the neighborhood. We put in three raised beds and filled those with a nice soil mix and are hoping that come the fall, the yard will be ready for planting. You can see a couple of blackberry plants poking through the paper. The purpose of the butcher paper, boxes and wood-chips is to drown out any remaining grass and weeds (more weeds than grass). Thankfully in our neighborhood, there is not HOA or restrictions for these kinds of things. Although, we have had a lot of people stop by with questions. Mostly we are met with approval, but occasionally it is not favored. That's okay, we're pretty weird.
Here Jason is, sitting, after we finished mulching the remainder (majority) of the yard. I might recommend doing this if you are so inclined, in the fall, as it is pretty hot in the summer in FL. But, that's just how the chips fell for us. When Covid hit, we decided to get a little more home-steady and try to grow our food. Not all of it, but a good portion if possible. We watched videos of places like The Plummery and other urban homesteaders doing more with less space than us. We are fortunate in some ways that we don't have any trees in our front yard and thus get lots of sun compared to many of our neighbors.
I wish I could tell you that it all went beautifully, that we reaped in huge returns, but that wouldn't be accurate. But the difference with this year is that I am really determined to use it all, all the failures, as a springboard for learning. Because we don't use any sprays or pesticides, and in a typical urban setting, most lawns are laden with it, I know it's going to probably take a few years for the soil to begin to heal, and for even the beneficial insects to make their way to us. Also, I will probably use some neem oil on my plants on the next round and also start my seeds indoors and transplant them. All things I didn't do and basically the plants that did well or okay without anything were the tomatoes (okay, but got some stink bugs and uneven ripening), green beans, and herbs (basil, oregano, cilantro). Also our sweet potatoes and papayas are doing great. Things that got decimated by bugs were cantaloupe, cucumber, pumpkins, zucchini, yellow squash and strawberries (ants and pill bugs). Our bell pepper plants look great, but basically have not produced anything. This may still be due to lack of pollinators, but I think they were too shaded and didn't have adequate nutrition.
We used the method of gardening known as "back to eden" or a more permaculture approach. We are recycling local resources and trying to find a natural solution to our issues. We deeply believe in regenerative agriculture as a solution to food security, ridding the world of carcinogenic chemicals that harm all beings and are killing our pollinators, and to heal the earth and restore the life that has been ripped out of the soil and our food. The soil in our yard before we added the cardboard and mulch, was dry, hard as a rock, and deader than a door nail. But we didn't know what we didn't know. And this pandemic has us reevaluating what we think of as valuable. So for that, I am grateful. I have been trying to commune with our little piece of land and asking her what she needs to heal. I know time, love and energy are required and I'm going to give what I can. I don't know that I have ever felt more satisfied than when I get to make a meal with food we grew from start to finish and I recommend it, especially if you need a little earth-therapy.