New Sheet Mulching Videos

Sheet Mulching: Low Maintenance Gardening Without Chemicals

One key way you can make your gardening life easier and safer for you and our environment is to practice sheet mulching for weedy areas, shrub borders, and new garden beds. Imagine walking around your well-mulched garden, with no weeds or grass poking their heads up and demanding attention. All is peace, while the mulch and cardboard do the work. You need never double dig again, and you can free up shed space by giving your rototiller to your local Tool Lending Library or community garden . “What is sheet mulching?”, you may ask. It’s basically putting cardboard on top of weeds to smother them, with a thick layer of mulch on top of the cardboard to make it look great and hold the cardboard in place. This method works beautifully in new gardens with small shrubs or new perennials – where there is space for weeds to grow. It’s also a huge labor savor when you want to turn part of your lawn into a vegetable or flower garden. You just sheet mulch the area and wait six months. Then, with a trowel, make small holes right through the mulch and decaying cardboard for your baby plants. They grow up with minimal weed competition, and plenty of moisture in the soil.

With support from the Vashon-Maury Island Groundwater Protection Committee, and several members of the community, Garden Green has a new series of sheet mulching videos:

Part 1 covers the preparation of the sheet mulching area and placing cardboard.

Part 2 covers tips on working with large piles of wood chips and loading wheelbarrows efficiently.

Part 3 covers tips on spreading the wood chips, and when you would use compost instead of wood chips.

Free Green Gardening and Stormwater Consultations!

Do you live in Vashon Island’s Community Sewer District—near downtown Vashon or at Bunker Trail? Then you are eligible for a free in-person consultation with Garden Green to brainstorm ways you can slow run-off, and green your gardening practices for enhanced wildlife and pollinator habitat and cleaner water. This free educational opportunity is funded by the King County Wastewater Treatment Division, through Garden Green and the Vashon Nature Center. The project, Vashon Community Waters, runs through 2021. 

Sign up for a Free Waterworks Green Gardening and Stormwater Consultation –  in person with masks and social distancing

In this program we will spend 1 -2 hours going through your landscape with you giving you green gardening ideas and ways to control stormwater on-site.  This will help you to ensure that your landscape practices are healthy and safe for your family, your pets, wildlife, and Puget Sound. 

Here is what our first family had to say about the consultation:

“We wanted to reply to you sooner to thank you for the comprehensive report with tons of thoughtful, practical and insightful information in each attachment you sent.   Please stay well and thank you and Diane for inspiring us to move forward with more knowledge and confidence.”


Contact Michael Laurie 206-406-7153,, if you have questions, or would like to sign up.

About Garden Green

Welcome to Garden Green!  A place to come learn about common garden pesticides, and safer alternatives to their use.  Our work focuses on the Pacific Northwest, but many of the resources you will find here are useful globally.

Thanks for visiting. Take a look around, and stop back regularly, as we will continue to add resources, reports, and more reference information.  

Also, please visit our Garden Green Facebook page
Support for Garden Green is partially provided by the Puget Sound Stewardship and Mitigation Fund, a grantmaking fund created by the Puget Soundkeeper Alliance and administered by the Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment.

Support is also provided by King County, through the Vashon-Maury Island Groundwater Protection Committee.

Vashon Pesticide Forum!

The Vashon Pesticide Forum was a Great Success!  The presentations and the follow up discussion was videotaped by Voice of Vashon. You can see the entire forum here:

Michael Laurie- at beginning of video
Diane Emerson- Garden Green- begins at 9:20:22
Lianne Sheppard- begins at 32:37:05
Shannon Brittan- Seattle Univ. Grounds Dept.- begins at 42:25:28
Rob Peterson- Plum Forest Farm- begins at 57:01:28
John Yates- Vashon Ace hardware- begins at 1:14:09:01
Tanner Yelken- Island Lumber- begins at 1:20:21:08
Question and Answer begins at 1:22:45:09

Background on the Event:

Vashon Pesticide Forum: Safe, Effective Alternatives to these Toxic Three: Roundup, Weed & Feed, & Preen

We love our island nestled in Puget Sound. We are grateful to be living here, in this amazing and unique place: filled with wildlife and natural beauty, so close to a major metropolitan area. The safety of our island's wildlife, our sole-source aquifer, our streams, and our own family's health are important to us.

Many of us want to protect the safety and health of all island residents (including the wildlife), by not using toxic pesticides. Children are especially vulnerable to them. So we were delighted when Island Lumber pulled all their Roundup (glyphosate) products off the shelf permanently in September, 2018, and we would like to see it gone from all island shelves.

Costco, the 2nd largest retailer in the world, has recently decided not to purchase any Roundup or products containing glyphosate in 2019.  The City of Seattle is going to ditch it, too. It is time for our community to also focus on safe alternatives to this and other harmful herbicides.

Let's get together and talk about this issue that affects us all. We will focus on the safe and effective alternatives to RoundUp, Weed & Feed, and Preen, as these three herbicides are the biggest sellers on the island, and people want to know what else they can use.


  1. Michael Laurie, Senior Associate, Cascadia Consulting Group and past chair of the Vashon-Maury Island Groundwater Protection Committee, co-author of the Vashon-Maury Island Watershed Plan, founder of Watershed LLC, and co-founder of Garden Green. Michael will provide background on our community's effort to minimize the use of toxic pesticides.

  2. Diane Emerson, owner, Emerson Gardening Services, Manager, Garden Green, with 17 years experience in the specialty chemical industry. Diane will provide an overview of the 3 herbicides being covered in the forum, and safe, effective alternatives to them.

  3. Shannon Britton, Grounds and Landscape Manager, Seattle University - where they have managed the entire 50 acre campus without toxic pesticides for over 20 years:  Shannon will share how they manage their 50 acres of lawns, buildings, rain gardens, shrub and tree plantings, even their soccer and ballfields, without toxic pesticides. She will also cover the challenges they face with noxious weeds, and how they deal with them.

  4. Rob Peterson of Plum Forest Farm:   He and his wife Joanne Jewell have been working in the fields of sustainable agriculture, organic gardening and pesticide reduction for over 20 years. Their Vashon farm is certified USDA Organic. Rob will share how they deal with weeds, and why they farm organically. 

  5. John Yates—Co-owner, Vashon Ace Hardware. John will cover why they still carry RoundUp and the other herbicides featured in the forum, the alternatives they also carry, and other steps Ace is taking to help the community move toward safer alternatives.

  6. Tanner Yelken, Garden Center Manager, Island Home Center and Lumber  Island Home Center removed all their Roundup glyphosate products in September 2018. Tanner will discuss why they made that decision, their substitute product - horticultural vinegar, and the reactions of their customers to the move.

Bring Your Questions

There will be plenty of time for questions after the speakers present, so please come with your questions. We will focus our discussion on herbicides.  If we do run out of time to address your particular question, we will research the answer to your question after the event, and get back to you.


We will have many handouts for you: information on alternatives to pesticides, how to talk to your neighbors about their use of pesticides, the dangers of these 3 herbicides in particular, and a copy of the new Green Gardening Calendar

Organizers: Diane Emerson, Michael Laurie, Art Chippendale, and Tania Kinnear. Please contact Diane if you have questions, or would like to help:

Endorsements: Vashon Nature Center, Sustainable Vashon