To convert lawn area into a low-maintenance planting bed, you don't have to break your back shoveling. Simply cover the grass with cardboard, overlapping the sheets as if they were shingles. Next, lay about four to six inches of compost or mulch over the cardboard. Water the area until it's compacted. Then wait. In two months, the ground will have taken on the soil structure and nutrients necessary to sustain edible or decorative plantings of your choice.