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Thinking Green

Eco-Friendly Cardboard Weed Barrier for Your Garden

By: Danny Lipford

Rather than using herbicides, landscape fabric, or plastic sheeting to control weeds in your garden or planting beds, try putting down cardboard instead as a green solution.

To use cardboard as a weed barrier in your garden:

  • Break down cardboard boxes and remove any plastic packing tape.
  • Lay the cardboard on the ground in your garden or planting bed.
  • Wet the cardboard down with a garden hose.
  • Cover the cardboard with a layer of mulch.
  • When planting, cut a hole in the cardboard for each plant.

As the cardboard breaks down over time, it makes sugar, which attracts earthworms to improve your soil. Watch this video to find out more.

Further Information

Print   Video Transcript

A lot of the time people have the idea that in order to think green, you have to think outside the box. Well, today I thought I’d show you a way to think green with the box by making a simple weed barrier.

You don’t even have to pull any of the weeds, just break the box down, and place it directly on top of the weeds. Overlap the seams so there are no gaps, then soak all this with water to really speed up the decomposition. Now you’re ready to cover this with mulch, which will compress down in just a few days.

Another benefit is that as the cardboard breaks down, it produces a sugar that attracts earthworms; which, in turn, creates healthy soil. You can plant anything you want in this new weed free bed. Just cut through the cardboard when making your hole. And, smile knowing you’ve helping to keep more waste out of landfills.


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7 Comments on “Eco-Friendly Cardboard Weed Barrier for Your Garden”

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  • Official Comment:


    Thomas Boni Says:
    June 27th, 2018 at 1:38 pm

    Hi, Angie,

    If the cardboard’s purpose is to block weeds, ink shouldn’t be an issue. However, since ink can be treated with petroleum oil, we would not recommend such material for a vegetable garden or a farm-to-table application. The cardboard thickness should not be a significant factor, but for weed blocking, naturally, the thicker the better.

    Good luck,



  • Angie Says:
    June 16th, 2018 at 6:03 pm

    Does it matter if the cardboard has coloring or writing? For example, what if I used cereal boxes or boxes from soda? Or should the cardboard be a certain level of thickness? I know when laying newspaper, it’s better to not use colored newspaper, like the comic section.


  • Official Comment:


    Thomas Boni Says:
    July 8th, 2018 at 3:36 pm

    Hi, MAB,
    Yes, cardboard can be used for this purpose in the same way that it works in flower beds. You might also consider inexpensive landscape fabric; that will also work to block the weeds.
    Thanks for your question!



  • MAB Says:
    June 15th, 2018 at 8:46 pm

    Can cardboard be used for a driveway extention to keep the weeds out using marble stones or shells on top of it?



  • Linda Boeving Says:
    May 28th, 2018 at 1:46 pm

    Can you cover the cardboard with river rock instead of mulch?



  • carolyn g wilkinson Says:
    March 9th, 2018 at 9:29 pm

    i was watching the videos about the cardboard box, and i think that’s a good idea. i didn’t think about that. i had put down the mulch over the grass and the grass took over my flowers i was so UPSET. now i can do better and take up the mulch and put down the cardboard box. i can now rest at night knowing i don’t have to go out every day and pull up WEEDS. THANK YOU so much.



  • Emily Williams Says:
    February 20th, 2017 at 9:04 am

    I have a 50’x150′ garden. I’ve been overrun by weeds, and pricker weeds. I want to use cardboard to control weeds this year. Do I overlap the cardboard, lay the mulch over the top, and then cut the holes for the seeds? How soon after I lay the cardboard and mulch can I start to plant, will they pierce through the cardboard? Thank you, Emily


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Eco-Friendly Cardboard Weed Barrier for Your Garden