Cardboard mulch is an eco-friendly and cost-effective solution for your vegetable or flower garden. The best part is you can make it completely at home with your own recycled cardboard. This article will walk you through the A to Z of exactly how to do that.]
What is Cardboard Mulch?
Cardboard mulch is an eco-friendly type of mulch that is made from recycled cardboard. While it’s not used professionally in nurseries or large-scale gardening, it’s perfect for your home garden. Cardboard mulch is an excellent way to suppress weed growth, retain moisture in the soil, and promote healthy plant growth.
We love cardboard mulch because of its budget-friendly nature (and that it can be used in a variety of settings, including vegetable gardens, flower beds, and landscaping projects). Additionally, cardboard mulch is easy to obtain and can be recycled again after use, making it an ideal choice for those looking to support sustainable and eco-friendly practices.
Benefits of Cardboard Mulch
We’ve already covered a few of the benefits, so we’ll just go over it quickly.
- Suppresses Weed Growth: One of the biggest benefits of using cardboard mulch is its ability to suppress weed growth. When placed over the soil, the cardboard creates a barrier that prevents weeds from germinating and growing. That reduces the need for herbicides or manual weeding—which makes gardening that much easier.
- Retains Soil Moisture: The second benefit of cardboard mulch is that it keeps the moisture of your soil intact. It prevents moisture from evaporating, helping to keep the soil moist for longer periods of time. This can be especially beneficial if you live somewhere dry or arid (or if you’re going on a vacation).
- Promotes Healthy Plants: Cardboard mulch can also help to promote healthy plant growth. That’s because cardboard mulch can do things such as regulate soil temperature, prevent soil erosion, and provide nutrients to the soil.
Now let’s explain exactly how you can make it.
How to Make Your Own Cardboard Mulch?
Here’s a five-step process to make your own shredded cardboard mulch.
1. Pick Your Cardboard
There are two different types of cardboard: food pulp and plastic coated.
- Food pulp cardboard has all the same nutrients as wood mulch—making it a great option for your plants. However, food pulp cardboard decomposes incredibly quickly—meaning it won’t protect your plants for as long.
- Plastic-coated cardboard mulch is another option. However, we would recommend food pulp cardboard over the plastic-coasted kind. That’s because plastic-coated cardboard will prevent water from penetrating the soil and eventually cause it to dry out.
Never forget to remove the duct tape or packing tape from your cardboard. This won’t deteriorate and may harm your plants.
2. Shed the Cardboard
Once you have the cardboard you need to choose whether to use whole pieces or shredded cardboard. Although larger pieces of cardboard typically do a great job of suffocating weeds, they will degrade more slowly than shredded cardboard.
We recommend that you use the cardboard type that works best for you. For example, if you have a larger garden, it will be easier to mulch with larger pieces than with shredded ones.
3. Place the Cardboard Mulch Around Your Plants
Third, make sure the cardboard mulch is placed around your plants so that it’s not in contact with the plant stem. Wood pulp, used to make cardboard, contains a lot of nitrogen, which is excellent for plants but may also be harmful if consumed in excess.
In short, too much nitrogen, which is found in cardboard could burn your plant’s roots and stems.
4. Layer the Mulch
Depending on your cardboard type, you need to layer your mulch differently.
One layer of these should be sufficient if you use large pieces of cardboard. While some of them may probably overlap, that shouldn’t be a major problem. If you are using thicker cardboard pieces, avoid stacking them on top of one another in multiple layers since this will cause more damage than good.
We recommend using a 2 to 5-inch layer of mulch if you’re using shredded cardboard. Some people use a thicker layer, which is also acceptable, but try to avoid layering it too thinly.
5. Water the Mulch
After you’ve placed the cardboard you need to water it down. Watering it will make it heavier and less likely to be blown away by the wind.
6. Add Additional Mulches (Optional)
In most cases, you should combine cardboard with other mulches for the best results (and for a better look). Grass and wood chips are the most frequent mulches used on top of the cardboard mulch layer, and both are quite effective. You can also use wood chips if the appearance of the mulch in your garden is more important to you.
As you can see, mulching with cardboard is really simple. All you have to do is choose the proper cardboard and layer it around your plants so that the mulch doesn’t touch the plant stem. Ideally, you should also water the mulch because it will be much simpler to handle, especially on windy days.
Interested in reading more about organic gardening? Check out our library of free resources!