A climate action evanston program

How do I get started?

From Turf to Diverse: Cardboard Lasagna method. How do I transition from a lawn to a pollinator garden?

More about this key action Item

most recent version posted on:
August 23, 2023

The "Cardboard Lasagna" method of turf suppression builds top soil, suppresses many plants, including turf species, does not disturb tree roots, and does not have to be removed later.

It simply deteriorates on top of the grass. Add compost or a mix of compost and mulch, and you can seed directly into the new soil.
  • Collect cardboard, preferably not plasticized.
  • Remove tape from cardboard.
  • Lay cardboard on top of turf. If you do not have enough cardboard, you can use @7 sheets of newspaper instead of cardboard. Be sure there are no gaps, or whever is under the cardboard will find a way through.
compost delivery
  • Add 3-4” of compost or a mix of compost and mulch on top.  Do not use food scraps, or squirrels will be digging up your cardboard.  
compost and mulch laid on top of cardboard
  • You can sow seeds directly into the compost and mulch.
  • Keep it moist to help the cardboard deteriorate more quickly and for the seeds to germinate.
  • It is possible to add plugs (e.g., coneflowers) right on top, splaying the plug roots to fit them into the 3-4” of compost and mulch. That worked well.
  • For the project pictured, 3 cu yards of mulch and compost (about 1.5 cu yards of each) covered the front parkway area.
grass and plants are sprouting
Starting to look like a garden, August 2020

Some turf grass found its way around edges of cardboard. Also because there was an existing tree and native plantings to preserve, there were some gaps where Creeping Charlie and mile-a-minute vine continued to be a problem.


  • Removing the turf, which removes the topsoil and to my mind is a lot more work, plus you have to dispose of the turf.
  • Solarizing with sheets of clear plastic.  You have to get a lot of plastic and then later, remove,  keep and/or dispose of it.
  • Herbicide, which kills the soil microorganisms and fungi that you are wanting to encourage.  


Our Eco-Friendly Yard and Garden Landscaping flyer

Our short guide to get your garden buzzing with life — attracting butterflies, bees, fireflies and birds.

Access pdf file of flyerAccess pdf file of flyer

Our Natural Habitat Newsletter Signup

Sign up for the NHE Newsletter

NHE Newsletter SignupNHE Newsletter Signup

Gardening that Matters video presentation

Gardening that Matters. Get Started or Enhance your Native Garden.  March 2023 presentation to North Shore Senior Center's Tuesday Club. A simple way to take action for climate, community healthand biodiversity: Swap out your lawn for native plants.  Reconsidering theculture of lawns. Why it matters, steps to prioritize, how to get started, andhow to amplify the change. Leslie Shad of Natural Habitat Evanston presents.

See videoSee video

No Mow May factsheet from Midwest Grows Green

No Mow May factsheet from Midwest Grows Green

See factsheetSee factsheet

You're Needed! Here Are Some Involvement Opportunities

Donating to Climate Action Evanston and earmarking your donation for Natural Habitat Evanston. You can further earmark your donation to one of our initiatives.

Oaktober: Harvest Fest and native Tree Plantings

Join usJoin us

Celebrate nature. Join in events throughout fall: Sept 30 Harvest Fest at Eggleston Park, and tree plantings throughout October

Take the Pollinator and Bird Pledge

take the pledgetake the pledge

Join our Pollinator Pledge and let the city and landscapers know we care about sustainable yards. Take an optional yard sign to spread the word.

Join the Natural Habitat Evanston Newsletter


Stay updated on green goings on in Evanston, workdays, advocacy issues and more.

Buffalo Grass Anyone?

Buffalo GrassBuffalo Grass

$25/bag to local residents (pickup; no shipping). We also have some $5 seed packets of bottlebrush and little bluestem grass. While supplies last. Emails should include your phone number and which species you are requesting. Pay by check payable to Citizens’ Greener Evanston at pickup.

Volunteer at plantings and invasive removals: parks and schools

Outdoor workdaysOutdoor workdays

Help at outdoor workdays

Join No Mow May

No Mow MayNo Mow May

Rethink how you Lawn

Sign on: Northwestern students Petition for Bird-Friendly Films at Mudd Library

Sign onSign on

Northwestern students Petition for Bird-Friendly Films at Mudd Library. Mudd Library accounts for over 14% of bird deaths and injuries on campus each year. Applying patterned window film to a portion of the building would dramatically reduce collisions that are fatal to birds.

More Ways to Volunteer: Spread the word

Email usEmail us

Share out brochures, doorhangers, or flyers. Collect a bunch of materials on the 5th Ward Tree Giveaway, Pollinator Pledge, Eco landscaping, Yard care, Light pollution, Leaf blowers are an eco-disaster, or Buffalo Grass.

Join our Facebook Group

NHE FB GroupNHE FB Group

Get updates and share your thoughts on our FB Group. You can also check out our FB page here https://www.facebook.com/NaturalHabitatEvanston

More yard signs: Mowing, Leaves, Leafblowers?

2-Sided Yard Sign2-Sided Yard Sign

Just want to spread the word on certain steps? Mow Less-Leave Leaves (2-sided yard sign) or Leafblowers sign

Join the Isabella Woods Newsletter

Isabella Woods NewsletterIsabella Woods Newsletter

Get news the next time there is a threat to Isabella Woods. (Only sent when there is news.)

Certify with National Wildlife Federation

Certify now with NWFCertify now with NWF

Provide Food, Water, Shelter, Places to Raise Young and Sustainable Steps for wildlife. It helps Evanston maintain its NWF Community-wide Wildlife Habitat certification.