When I first got interested in gardening, I remember being intimidated at the thought of all the physical labor and mental work that would be needed to create a garden out of nothing. And then I discovered sheet mulching.
Sometimes known as "lasagna gardening," sheet mulching is essentially the practice of laying down old cardboard, newspaper, and any other form of carbon-rich, slowly biodegradable barrier to keep down grass and weeds, and then topping that with a thicker layer of earth, compost, mulch and other organic materials that you plant directly into. You have an instant planting medium and, over time, it breaks down to create a fertile raised bed.
I've started all my gardens this way ever since. And it's never let me down. We've featured sheet mulching on TreeHugger many times before (check out the links below)—but I just came across this short video from permaculture expert Geoff Lawton which gives a great, basic step-by-step overview of just how fast, easy and (most importantly) imprecise the practice can be.
Take a look. And then have a go for yourself. You won't regret it.