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A couple of years ago, a hurricane came through my part of NJ and apparently flooded away most of my top soil in a very large section of my lawn. Over the following years, virtually every strand of grass died out, and the clover just wasn't that widespread. At this time we have neither the time or the money to buy new topsoil or do anything extensive to the lawn, so we had a neighbor who cuts down trees bring us some nice quality, clean wood chips to cover up the mud. This has worked quite well for the spring, summer and fall that it has been there. The earthworms are quite happy and getting really nice and big and fat! I figure by the time (in a year or two) we are ready to do some work to create bit of lawn (I am aiming for a nice mix of clover and dandelions and other "weeds" as well as some grass), the chips should be mostly decomposed. Right now the chips are covered up with a nice layer of maple leaves (and there are more coming!). We usually rake and compost them, but I was wondering if it would be a good idea to just let them sit and then cover them in the spring with more wood chips or a mulch. We could even throw compost down on top of the leaves. In a year or two my giant compost pile should decompose and help along the soil, right? I only need the little bit of lawn for my kids to play on. Eventually, in 10 years or so, I would like it to be much more garden than lawn. Would do you all think? Looks are not an issue at all, but the surface has to be suitable for play (and not too stinky!)
 

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Leaf mulch is great for making nice, crumbly soil. If you want to speed it along run over it with the mower a few times. Smaller pieces will decompose faster.

You might also start a kitchen scrap compost pile and just puree everything before you dump it to speed up the decomp. I imagine you will have some nice crumbly stuff by next summer if you do that.
 

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my avid gardener of a grandfather used to put shredded newspaper in there (you may or may not want to do this if the ink makes you think...). He also turned the soil every so often to get it to circle around and decompose faster.
At my old garden, I spent the winter burying our compost straight into the area I wanted my veggies. The clay embedded soil became very maleable and healthy. Lots of worms came there. The things you are doing sound good: especially because you have worms. That in my mind is the best sign of a good healthy soil. Good luck!
 
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