landscape fabric

What are the alternatives to landscape fabric?

Some of the most common alternatives to landscape fabric are cardboard, newspaper, burlap, ground-cover plants, straw, wood chips, bark mulch, pine needles and lawn waste. If you ask your neighbor for the best way to keep your garden beds weed-free, more often than not your neighbor will recommend using landscape fabric or landscape cloth, as it is more commonly known. Though they may not be wrong technically, there are better alternatives to landscape fabric you can use to prevent weed growing in your lawn or garden. 

From selecting the right seasonal plants to installing an outdoor kitchen, our landscaping services can do it all for you. Contact us today for a stunning landscape!

Should you use Landscape Fabric?

Landscape fabric may, or may not, prevent the growth of weed in garden beds. It does effectively smother weeds but new weed seeds can easily take root on top of the cloth or underneath, on the mulch layer. 

Besides this, landscape fabric is normally made of woven polypropylene. This landscaping cloth is not biodegradable and will not add any nutrients to the soil. In contrast, using landscape fabric can often interrupt the soil’s natural biological processes. 

So, if you are looking for alternatives to landscape fabric, this article is for you.

Alternatives to Landscape Fabric

These are some of the best alternatives to landscape fabric in 2022:


Cardboard is one of those materials that you may find in plenty around your house. Every time you buy something online you get a cardboard box. Cardboard makes an excellent, biodegradable, plant-friendly alternative to using conventional landscape fabric. Sheet mulching is what inspired the idea of using cardboard as a way to control growth of weed. 

Before using it, make sure to remove all staples, pins, tape and any inorganic material attached to the box. These things pose a risk of polluting your garden. To use cardboard as alternative to landscape fabric, you will need to place the pieces such that they overlap at least a few inches along every seam. This prevents weed from finding gaps and breaking through. You can wet the cardboard before placing it to make it more pliable and fit effectively between plants. 

Once you have made the cardboard barrier, you can start mulching the ground. You can use a layer of organic mulch, such as wood bark or wood chips to improve the appeal of your garden. 


Newspaper is also an excellent alternative to landscape fabric for the garden. This is a cheap, biodegradable weed barrier. You can place newspapers the same way you do cardboard in the garden area, except you will need to use at least 4 to 8 layers of newspaper. Besides this, you may want to shred the newspaper so it can allow more moisture and sunlight to pass through to the plant’s roots. 

Make sure not to use glossy and colored paper, such as magazines for landscaping. This type of paper does not break down easily in the soil. Newspapers are a great treat for earthworms which is essential for your garden. 


Burlap is the most similar in nature to conventional landscape fabric, if we compare all other alternatives. You can place burlap in the same way, by laying sheets of it with the slits or holes cut out for the plants. You will need to use pins to hold the burlap layer in place. 

Burlap is a material that also works similar to landscape fabric as it suppressed the growth of weed and permit sufficient water to reach the soil at the same time. Natural burlap is completely made of organic material so it is not harmful to the earthworms and breaks down easily in the soil.

Ground cover Plants

Ground cover plants are able to block sunlight before it can reach the weed seeds, thus preventing their growth in your garden. Besides this, ground cover plants are low-maintenance and flourish in almost any climate. Ground cover plants work to choke out the weed without disturbing the other plants, flowers and bushes in the garden. Besides acting as a weed barrier, ground cover plants are also excellent to add aesthetic to your garden. 

You can use creeping juniper, mondo grass and ajuga as ground cover plants to use as alternatives to landscape fabric. 


Wheat straw in the garden is another excellent way to improve the health of the soil by adding organic material, and also prevents weed growth. Straw prevents most weeds from growing by blocking out the essential sunlight. 

Some straw mulch come with hay mixed in, which can often lead to weed seeds invading your garden. To prevent this, you should use a guaranteed, weed-free straw. Usually, you will need one bale of straw to lay 2-4 inches over an 80 sq. ft. area. If you buy straw from the local garden supply store, you can check the square feet cover on the packaging usually. 

Do not get confused between straw and hay. Hay is a type of grass that is grown and harvested as feed for cattle. Straw, on the other hand, is made of dry, hollow stalks left behind after a wheat or barley harvest. 

Wood chips

Wood chips are organic mulch and decompose at a slow rate, while providing the soil with essential nutrients. Wood chips are able to retain moisture for longer and can maintain optimal soil temperature. They also prevent pest infestations and plant diseases. 

You can buy wood chips at the local garden store. Try to avoid buying wood chips from construction sites as they may contain more pollutants than landscape fabric. Wood mulch is increasingly becoming popular as a major component of eco-friendly gardens. It is also becoming one of the best alternatives to landscape fabric. 

Bark mulch

Just like wood chips, bark mulch is also excellent at retaining moisture, regulating soil temperature and improving the soil with nutrients. It is also ideal for preventing the growth of weed in your garden. You can buy good quality bark mulch at your local garden supply store.

According to landscaping experts, such as Eden you should try to buy smaller bark bits as these are easier to spread and provide a more effective cover for the ground. 

Pine needles and others

Pine needles, along with grass clippings and shredded leaves are also excellent alternative to landscape fabric. They are eco-friendly, biodegradable alternatives and easy to spread over your garden or lawn. These substances prevent soil erosion, retain moisture for long periods of time and also improve the soil with nitrogen. 


As you can see, there are plenty of alternatives to landscape fabric. You can use cardboard, newspaper, burlap, ground cover plants, straw, pine needles, grass clippings, wood chips and bark mulch instead of the plastic-based landscape fabric from the local garden store. 

From selecting the right seasonal plants to installing an outdoor kitchen, our landscaping services can do it all for you. Contact us today for a stunning landscape!

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