Pile Gardening 101

I’m a piler. There, I said it.


A piler of weeds.

Winter gardening in the South is actually synonymous with an ever-abundant explosion of weeds. Literally. Weeds are EVERYWHERE you look. Weeds don’t realize they are just weeds though….and actually be quite useful in the garden. Especially if you are a piler.

My favorite part of weeding is the “pile effect”. If you are a neat-freak, just skip this blog…….But, if you like what happens to your soil after earthworms are encouraged to make a home under a nice, warm pile of weed debris…..keep reading and start piling.

“Piling” is a natural way to help your soil. It’s as if nature takes over for a few months, and has her way with the underground world of your garden. Here is how to create a nice little pile of goodness…..

Step one…..find a spot in your garden (or future garden) where nothing is growing but weeds.

Step two……Pull the weeds.

Step three…….find some old debis (leaves, hay, old weeds, or anything dry)

Step four……pile the weeds on top of dry debris. And keep piling as you pull weeds.

Think of piling as a mini-compost pile….though the goal is actually for the worms below. Worms live about 6 inches below the surface of the soil, for warmth. If you increase the warmth and food supply, the worms (and other garden critters)will come up to the surface and eat the weed debris….turning it slowly into delicious black gold. The piles need to be heavy enough to weigh the pile down. Not huge…..maybe a foot in diameter, and a foot high. If you are creating a new garden, obviously piles are bigger. (See the book Lasagna Gardening for large piling effects. It’s a FANTASTIC resource.)

Piling also suffocates new weeds from forming, and provides a mulch-type of environment around beloved plants in the garden. As the weeds decay, add more weeds on top. I actually flip my small piles, and move them when I am ready to plant something where the weeds once were. Piling works great during times when bulbs are dormant, using dried foliage to start the pile.

Piling isn’t for everyone. My Dad actually hated the way piling looked in his garden….until I lifted a pile I created in his garden, and showed him the new earth underneath. Then he was hooked. I still have compost piles, or at least I did before the flood. I still compost large amounts of debris. But for little five minute weed-plucking jobs, I pile.

Happy Gardening, my piling friends!!!! May your soils be rich and nutritious, and may you feed the worms with all your weeds!