At the beginning of any forest garden project, I always recommend surveying and planning first, followed by propagating ground cover plants. The reason is cost; you need a large number of ground cover plants to create a living mulch in a forest garden. At 30cm apart, the cost of plants would be prohibitive even in a small garden.
The process is pretty simple. Find an area of grass that you know won’t be used for quite a while and follow these steps to create the bed:
The grass will die off beneath the cardboard, the ground cover plants will grow in the soil, the cardboard will gradually decompose and the ground cover will get established. All you’ll need to do is a bit of weeding every few months.
Make sure to plant something that easy to propagate. Around here in West Wales, Glechoma hederacea grows like a proverbial weed, so it’s a fantastic, low-maintenance ground cover. Plants For A Future has a handy database of ground cover plants if you’re stuck for ideas.
The beauty is that the propagation bed is only ever temporary, you can always move the plants to another site. If you don’t use them, you can always give them away to friends, neighbours or a fête worse than death.