One garden consultant on TikTok recently issued a warning to their followers: Stop using landscape fabric.
@buonaterragardens Let's talk about landscape fabric and why it might not be the perfect solution for your garden First and foremost, let's address the undeniable truth—landscape fabric isn't biodegradable. That means it'll stick around for an eternity, contributing to the ever-growing waste pile. Not exactly the sustainable choice we're after, right? ♻️ While landscape fabric may be great at suppressing weeds it does nothing for the health of your soil and can actually end up damaging it. Over time it will disrupt the crucial balance of soil aeration and water penetration for your soil. That's a major setback for your soil's overall health and vitality Now, let me introduce you to my personal favorite alternative: cardboard!! It's a game-changer, my friends! You can easily repurpose old cardboard boxes by flattening them out and removing any tape or staples. Alternatively, you can purchase rolls of corrugated cardboard or thick cardboard paper (as seen in this reel) in various sizes. They're readily available at big-box stores or online retailers. Here's the beauty of it—use the corrugated cardboard just like you would landscape fabric. Lay it down, layer on the mulch or compost, and let nature do its thing. Over time, the cardboard will naturally biodegrade, enriching your soil and nourishing the microorganisms within. You'll enjoy the benefits of a weed barrier without compromising our planet's well-being. It's a win-win! 🌍🌿 #gardenconsultant #vegetablegarden ♬ how would they know bad girls club – Sara Speax
“Let’s talk about landscape fabric,” Sarah (@buonaterragardens) began their post. “First and foremost, let’s address the undeniable truth — landscape fabric isn’t biodegradable. That means it’ll stick around for an eternity, contributing to the ever-growing waste pile. Not exactly the sustainable choice we’re after, right?”
Sarah went on to explain that landscape fabric — a plastic liner that is marketed as a solution for suppressing weed growth — will, over time, “disrupt the crucial balance of soil aeration and water penetration for your soil.”
Sarah is not the only gardening expert who is down on landscape fabric. One TikToker recently outlined how the stuff isn’t even effective at preventing weed growth. And another shared the details of just how harmful it is to soil, concluding, “I think it’s a waste of time and money.”
Instead of landscape fabric, Sarah recommended using a cheaper and more earth-friendly alternative: corrugated cardboard, which you can even repurpose from package deliveries (if you have enough of it). If not, you can always buy some big rolls at a big-box store or online.
“Use the corrugated cardboard just like you would landscape fabric,” Sarah wrote. “Lay it down, layer on mulch or compost, and let nature do its thing. Over time, the cardboard will naturally biodegrade, enriching your soil and nourishing the microorganisms within. You’ll enjoy the benefits of a weed barrier without compromising our planet’s well-being. It’s a win-win!”
The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign College of Agricultural, Consumer & Environmental Sciences offered some further advice about using cardboard as a substitute for landscape fabric on its website, writing, “If you … plan to use cardboard, make sure it is not coated, remove any [plastic] labels and staples, and cut a wide enough hole around your plants to make sure water can get through to the roots.”
Sarah’s followers agreed that cardboard is the way to go.
“Best for painting, best for everything,” wrote one cardboard-loving commenter.
“That is what I used in my garden!” wrote another one.
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