Here’s a very simple instant garden system demonstrated by Geoff Lawton. It’s pretty much the same system I use at the Walden Labs homestead, except I added straw mixed with sheep manure on top of the sheet mulch.
The basic how-to is this: Put down a bit of manure straight on the grass, cover with sheet mulch (newspaper, cardboard, egg cartons, old books), vegetable scraps from your kitchen if you have some, and then apply a thick layer of rough mulch (straw, hay, grass clippings, etc.).
Here’s Geoff explaining the “why” of sheet mulch gardening:
“What I’m doing is I’m imitating the forest floor. The soil organisms down there, those millions of organisms, tons of them in every square meter. Right now they’re thinking that a beautiful forest has landed on top. You can’t really go too thick [with the mulch]. You can definitely get too thin. This will hold huge amount of moisture. The soil surface will be warmer in winter and cooler in summer. It will greatly moderate the water flow”