Thinking Green

Ban Weeds from Your Garden with This Cardboard Barrier

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

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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20 Comments on “Ban Weeds from Your Garden with This Cardboard Barrier”

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  • Official Comment:

    Thomas Boni Says:
    August 6th, 2019 at 4:50 pm

    Hi, Brenda,
    We recommend submitting questions involving unique situations like yours to the Today’s Homeowner Radio Show.
    Please use this form to contact Danny Lipford, America’s Home Expert, directly:
    Take care!

  • Brenda Parsons Says:
    August 3rd, 2019 at 7:43 am

    Super idea using cardboard. Have a piece of walkway that is joined by 2 flower beds. Planting a shade tree between the 2 beds. Removing strip of grass to omit mowing, cardboard then river rock okay nearby to new tree? 4ft x 3 ft area then, 3 ft over will be tree. Still ok? Thank you!!!

  • Official Comment:

    Thomas Boni Says:
    August 6th, 2019 at 4:41 pm

    Hi, Dawn!
    For these kinds of questions, we turn to our friends at the Cooperative Extension.
    Here’s some awesome advice on this topic:
    Good luck!

  • Dawn Says:
    July 28th, 2019 at 11:59 am

    HI! I love the idea of the cardboard, I’m gonna try this next year in my garden. Only, once I lay cardboard down, wet it put mulch, how soon can I plant my plant??

  • Official Comment:

    Thomas Boni Says:
    June 12th, 2019 at 12:52 pm

    Hi, Marsha,
    What a great question! We recommend submitting it to the Today’s Homeowner Radio Show for an in-depth answer.
    Please use this form to contact Danny Lipford, America’s Home Expert, directly:
    Take care!

  • Marsha Bearden Says:
    May 31st, 2019 at 10:08 am

    If I place cardboard in my landscaping around my house to control weed growth, will my daffodils come up in the spring? They have died down and I can’t see where they all are. If I cover them, will the cardboard be broken down enough in late January?

  • Official Comment:

    Thomas Boni Says:
    March 16th, 2019 at 7:00 pm

    Hi, Barbara!
    First, empty out the refrigerator. Next, add trays of kitty litter on the shelves and let them take care of that smell for two or three days.
    Good luck!

  • Barbara Emmons Says:
    March 16th, 2019 at 5:17 pm

    Our grandson moved away and left a very new refrigerator. However, they forgot to take the meat out of it. By the time we picked it up the smell was terrible. We cleaned and cleaned and got most of the odor out. We put baking soda in the refrigerator but there is still a slight odor. How do we get the last of that odor out of there. Thank you

  • Official Comment:

    Thomas Boni Says:
    February 13th, 2019 at 4:04 pm

    Hi, Nicole!
    We can’t answer all the questions we receive, due to the high volume, but we sure do our best.
    Selected questions receive a moderator’s answer, as the comments form states.
    Thanks for visiting!

  • Nicole Fusco Says:
    February 12th, 2019 at 11:58 am

    How do I get answer to all the questions that were asked

  • marilee Says:
    November 22nd, 2018 at 9:01 am

    can i go over existing mulch with the cardboard? What about marble chips?

  • Official Comment:

    Thomas Boni Says:
    August 17th, 2018 at 1:47 pm

    Hi, Kristina!
    Danny says, “It could possibly divert the water from reaching the roots when it’s fairly new. I would suggest using an ice pick or similar device to poke holes in the cardboard and allow a little bit of water to reach the plant’s roots. Good luck!”

  • Kristina Says:
    July 1st, 2018 at 4:48 pm

    I have laid down cardboard instead of landscape fabric and for the most part I’m happy with it. My question is about watering. Will the cardboard (especially laid thickly) hinder the water from getting to the roots? How long does it take for the cardboard to start breaking down?

  • 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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Ban Weeds from Your Garden with This Cardboard Barrier