Cardboard is cheap and, with the popularity of online shopping, an abundant resource. You can use it to make various DIYs for home improvement. Nowadays, gardeners also utilize it for their gardening needs. Whether used as a mulch to prevent weeds or using it around plants stem to keep pests, cardboard can be very useful in a garden. However, is cardboard safe for organic gardening?
Reusing cardboard for the garden provides an effective compostable material that kills annoying weeds and develops a bumper crop of earthworms. Garden upcycling with cardboard has many further benefits. You can use it as planters, garden path, mulch a prepared bed, start a new bed, and much more.
What Cardboard should I use?
What Plants Need
It is important to know what type of cardboard you use in your landscape. Any cardboard that does not have a heavy print has no tape, no shiny finish, unwaxed, and plain brown is considered clean and good to use. Some tapes will eventually break down, such as the brown paper tape with strings. Otherwise, only use the basic type of cardboard. If you are planning a layered or lasagna garden, make sure to dampen the cardboard first before topping it with any organic material or mulch. There will be a more rapid breakdown when using cardboard in the garden in this manner.
Reusing Cardboard for the Garden
Cardboard is a form of paper that comes from a natural source, trees. Thus, it will break down eventually and release carbon into the soil. Garden upcycling with cardboard can be very beneficial. You can either use it as planters or use it to start a garden path. It can also be an excellent mulch for a prepared bed, among other things.
Cardboard Garden Ideas
The most common use of cardboard in the garden is to use it to start a new bed, called sheet mulching. It doesn’t matter if the field has weeds or grass but do remove rocks and other items you wouldn’t want in your planting area. Lay the cardboard down on top of the garden space and moisten well. You can use rocks or any other heavy items to hold it down to the ground. Always keep the area moist. The best time to do this is in the fall. By spring, weeds and the grass will start to wither and die, making the area ready to till.
Using cardboard for garden allows layered beds to become rich and nutrient-dense. In spring, you can start tilling the area, and you will be ready to plant in no time. You can prepare your vegetable beds in the fall, however, do cover them with cardboard to keep weeds from filling the areas.
You can also lay cardboard down where you want a path before covering with pavers. Over time, the cardboard will decompose, and it will prevent the growth of any undesirables under the pavers. You can also opt to use cardboard for around plants in areas that are prone to weeds. It will minimize weeds drastically and eventually compost into the soil.
Tips for Using Cardboard in the Garden
- Don’t plant perennials in a cardboard bed until you are certain that nothing underneath is growing through the cardboard. Reinforce some parts again if weeds start to get through, which will become troublesome if perennials already start to grow in this spot when it happens.
- Keep a stock of wood chips and soil so that you can fill the bed right away with more material as it compresses.
- You could also opt to build wooden frames to put on top of the cardboard, before filling them with soil.
Other Uses of Cardboard in Gardening
- Compost – When it comes to composting, cardboard comes in handy since it is the perfect brown material. You can break it down into smaller pieces and throw it in with other kitchen scraps. As it decomposes, it will add more nutrients your plants will love.
- Plant Containers – If you don’t want to spend more cash on garden containers, try using cardboard boxes instead. They work like a typical container, fill with soil, make sure to have proper drainage, and don’t forget to water depending on the need. Surprisingly, cardboard boxes can hold up to different weather conditions.
- Seed Starters – Cardboard boxes are the perfect solution for seed starters since you can keep them growing inside longer, giving you healthier seedlings to transplant.
Many new gardeners often ask this question, especially when you want a successful yield in the end. If you search closely, there are many articles written about the benefits of using cardboard in the garden. Others also refer to it as “lazy gardening” since you won’t need to do much, aside from laying your cardboard over depending on what you want to achieve. As long as you use organic, plain brown cardboard with no heavy colored prints, it’s safe to assume that yes, cardboard is indeed safe for organic gardening. Get more tips about organic gardening.