How Does Back to Eden Gardening Method Work?

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Growing vegetables and fruits in your garden can be a very arduous endeavor. If you use the wrong gardening method, then all of the efforts may go to waste.

That’s why the Back to Eden gardening method exists. It is the perfect alternative to traditional gardening methods. It increases the fertility, soil richness, and overall effectiveness of the garden.

This is not an easy or light method, though. You will still need to work hard and make sure to follow every process to the letter. Luckily, it is not rocket science either – so anyone can make it work!

Below, we’re going to teach you the ins and outs of the Back to Eden method and how you can get the most out of it as required. Keep scrolling!

What is Back to Eden Gardening?

What is Back to Eden Gardening?

The whole idea behind Back to Eden gardening is to create the most natural environment for plants to thrive.

Paul Gautschi created the method after years of looking at how forests worked. He saw that most forests had many mulches in the ground, composed of twigs, branches, leaves, and other kinds of dead matter. With this mulch, almost every plant around sprouted healthily and quickly.

He didn’t know why. But after replicating the method at home, he realized the soil with mulch had a significant advantage: it didn’t erode, it didn’t bake under the sun, and it retained a lot more moisture than average. This helped produce the ideal environment for plants to grow a lot more efficiently.

After years of success, his method became known worldwide. Today, it is one of the most popular ways to grow vegetables and even fruits sustainably and efficiently.

Fun fact: Paul Gautschi is a highly devoted Christian. That’s why he created the name Back to Eden for this method, as it tries to replicate Eden’s fruitful and biblical place.  

How Does Back to Eden Garden Work?

Now that you have a clearer idea of what the method means, let’s explain how it works (and how you can replicate it).

Below, you’ll find a set of steps to follow as well as an explanation of why you must follow them.

1. Gathering the Materials

Gathering the Materials

It may seem easy at first, but replicating the natural mulch found in forests and jungles is not easy. That’s why gathering all the supplies is probably the most crucial part and the most tiring.

What are these supplies, though? Well, it depends on the environment and climate you want to replicate this method on.

In some cases, you will need wood chips. It will be the base of your wood chips in places close to northern forests. But if you leave in more southern areas, then grass clippings could work a lot better. Some people even use whole grains like oats and rice for the mulch, which would be an excellent idea.

The focus is to use the most natural mulch possible. If you can gather wood chips, leaves, twigs, clippings, or anything similar to the area close to the garden, then that would be the ideal mulch to have.

Apart from the mulch materials, however, you will need compost. The mulch is to create a layer that keeps the soil from eroding. But then you need something decomposed or at least in the process of decomposing that brings nitrogen and minerals. This is what eventually produces the nutrient-rich soil.

2. Spreading the Supplies

Once you’ve found the ideal material for the mulch and compost, then you need to spread it on the area you want to use for the Back to Eden garden.

The advantage of this method is that you will need little to no soil work. You can just spread the materials on top of any soil (including stone, rocks, or even cement), and the Back to Eden method should still work.

But first, you need to place cardboard, newspaper, or something similar on the ground. This will prevent weeds from growing. You will probably need at least three layers of this base for the method to work.

Then you can start adding the composted soil as necessary. We recommend at least 3 inches in thickness. You may need to do your calculations correctly.

Finish with the mulch material. This could be whatever you can find in your area. It should have at least three more inches of thickness.

Everything should be in layers. Now it’s time to let it decompose for a few weeks or months.  

3. Letting it Decompose

Letting it Decompose

While it is not entirely necessary, it is heavily recommended. Leaving the compost and mulch to get indeed decomposed, so the nutrients start to flourish can be super-helpful.

This process ages the materials, slowly bringing down the dryness and unwanted particles that may not help in the germination process.

It should look dark brown after two weeks or up to 2 months and have a strong forest-like smell. If that’s the case, then you have an already decomposed mulch ready to be planted on.

4. Planting the Seeds

Once the material is spread on the garden area and sufficiently decomposed, you need to plant the seeds of vegetables and fruits you want to grow.

For this to work well, you need to insert the seeds into the soil layer. This layer is the one that will absorb most of the nutrients from the mulch, apart from the ones the compost already had. You will probably need to expose the area by taking the mulch apart.

You will still need to water the garden consistently, especially in dry areas. Luckily, the mulch and compost are known to absorb a lot of water and keep it for a long. So, once a day should be enough.

If you want to install a sprinkler system or soaker hose, then follow the same process. Just try not to overflow the mulch with water because it could also be harmful.

Here, the seeds should start growing as they would usually in the wild. Slowly but surely.

5. Weeding the Mulch

Weeding the Mulch

Even though the first layer of paper or cardboard will prevent weeds in the first place, some of them are stubborn enough to surpass that layer.

That’s why you must also weed the garden out every few days or weeks. Luckily, the weeds won’t be many. Thanks to the layer of mulch, it tends to have a hard time growing.

At the same time, they may start growing in the opened areas where you planted the seeds. Those are the areas you should keep well-protected and clean.

6. Keeping it Working

By now, you should have the Back to Eden garden working neatly. But you will still need to do some maintenance from time to time, especially if you’re thinking of working with it for years.

To make this happen, you will need to spread mulch consistently, at least once a year. This should help create a new layer of protection.

Then it would help if you also thought of compost. Even though the top material will decompose and become compost itself, adding more fertilized soil could always help improve its performance.

And lastly, try to adapt the garden to the area you live in. Find clippings, leaves, twigs, and other things that match with the environment. Use them as compost and mulch to ensure good results.

7. Enjoy the Yields

After several months, you should start seeing how the plants start growing their fruits and vegetables. You’ll see how efficient and organic the whole process is, and it requires little to no chemicals to work, which is even better.

The advantage of the Back to Eden gardening method is that you won’t have to re-do the whole process. Just keep it working as stated before, and that should be enough.

Tips for Successful Back to Eden Gardening

Now that we’ve taught you how to start with Back to Eden gardening, it is time to teach you a few secrets you won’t find anywhere else:

1. Finish Fast

Finish Fast

Don’t take more than a couple of days to finish spreading the materials. The focus is to leave no space for weeds and other contaminants to get into place.

2. Perfect Doesn’t Exist.

There’s on point in focusing on thickness, type of mulch, compost, or even seeds to plant. Your focus should be on ensuring a proper place for plants to grow, which often means being imperfect.

3. Mow Carefully

Mow Carefully

If you have grass around the beds of compost and mulch, then you should mow carefully. Grass seeds and weed clippings could damage the mulch or compost.

4. Use Good Seeds

Last but not least, try to use the most natural and fruit-producing plants possible. They should be non-GMO for effectiveness, produce-oriented so you can gather the yields, and fast-growing (for the first time).

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

We know this method can be a little confusing at first. And that often means it grows doubts in your head. This section may help you fix that:

Does back to Eden gardening work?

It does. But it is not a perfect method (just like nothing is). Some people claim that Back to Eden is the best gardening method, while others say it is not as effective as claimed. However, it depends on the work, commitment, and understanding of the technique.

If you follow our advice, making it work in your garden won’t be much of a problem.

What is the best season to start back to Eden gardening?

Because you want the compost and mulch to work as fertilizer for the growing plants in the spring, then it is always wise to start Back to Eden gardening in the fall. This will leave the coldest weeks for the decomposing and planting. When the growing seasons arrive, everything will be ready to sprout.

Do you need fertilizer?

You don’t need fertilizer to make the Back to Eden gardening method work. But it is still useful in some cases. For example, after a few years, you can use fertilizer to enhance the soil’s nutrient content. And it may also work as an excellent composting boost when you’ve just spread the materials.

What materials should I avoid?

There are several materials you should keep away from the compost and mulch layers. This includes hard-to-germinate woods like black walnut and eucalyptus. Some types of mulch are also toxic, like cacao and walnut, especially to animals.

Similarly, it would be best to avoid anything that makes the soil too alkaline or too acidic. For example, if you live in an area with tons of pine needles, you don’t need to add any to the compost.

Is it possible to mulch with rocks?

It seems counterintuitive, but rocks may help with mulch. The problem is that rocks and stones don’t decompose or break down. This means you can only use them as a top layer. Be aware that they may overheat on dry areas due to their conduction. But otherwise, they may work well enough.


Are you ready to start Back to Eden gardening at home? You won’t be disappointed with the results if you follow our advice.

As long as you take the time and effort to make it work, it shouldn’t be a problem to start growing your favorite vegetables and fruits with this mulch-oriented gardening method.

You don’t have to believe what we say; you must try it yourself. There’s no time to waste!

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