Tuesday, April 18, 2017


 When we moved to the apartment, we found the holy grail of cardboard for all of our gardening needs.  Our building has a special recycling area that keeps empty "clean" boxes separate from the regular trash.  I guess with the amount of residents moving in and out there are always a plethora of boxes, not to mention, everyone ordering mail order items and having boxes left over (gotta love Amazon!).  

  We went down a couple of months ago and picked up a bunch, loaded it all into the car and drove it to the farm to store in the barn. Then I spent an hour pulling off all the tape (always pull off the plastic tape, it WON'T break down) and it was ready for use.

Cardboard in raised bed garden
I've used them in the raised beds for both the garden and the orchard.  They kill grass and weeds better than anything I've found.  Best of all, after a few weeks under the dirt, they just become their own compost as they break down.

I've used them to make the flower beds in front of the garden fence, it makes life so much easier.  I liked having the 'flaps' to use behind the landscape timbers.  It has kept the grass from encroaching behind the fence.

Cardboard in flowerbeds
They looked great when they were first done.  Then I just filled and topped it off with soil.  The beds are doing great and so far, they are weed and grass free, a month out from building.

Cardboard in flowerbed
Most recently I used some in the front flowerbeds when I made them.  It's a great way to not have to take up all the grass and weeds, this will just smother it out.

The next plan is to try just putting cardboard sheets down (in the future bee yard) with maybe some rocks or bricks on top to hold it in place and then hoping it will smother out the grass.  Then I plan to just put soil on top and plant some flower seeds directly into the soil.  No timbers around it or outline of a bed, just a "flower mound".  

Anyone ever done anything similar? 


Anne in the kitchen said...

I get so many Amazon boxes and this is a great use for them! Thanks.

Practical Parsimony said...

The grass will get into the rocks, not necessarily from going through the boxes. Bits of stuff in the air composts in the rocks and seeds blowing will germinate in the rocks! Ask me how I know. However, you can continually pull out those weeds because the roots are not large, well, not at first. I read horror stories about using plastic and cloth, so I suppose cardboard boxes are best. I would use pavers and put low growing plants in the cracks. Vinegar or boiling water is preferable for killing weeds since salt, even a little makes ground sterile. I have thought about putting boiling vinegar in cracks to kill weeds...lol.

Tomato Thymes said...

We use large boxes between our raised beds in the vegetable garden. Sometimes we will toss mulch over it to make it more attractive. The cardboard is great at keeping the weeds down.

Colleen said...

the cardboard sure does help a lot in blocking them - - - weeds.
Me, when we used to receive the Fort Worth news paper, that is what I used for weed blocking in my beds. I would lay down the paper, water really well and then lay down my soil, compost, etc.

Colleen said...

I use boiling water9saving the hot water from boiling eggs, potatoes BUT with NO salt added to the water) and save my vinegar for laundry and cleaning.
Drain pots of boiling water directly onto the weeds that invade your garden (you can even use the leftover water from boiling pasta or potatoes). A splash of scalding water will shrivel even the toughest weeds in a couple of days.

Planting ground covers, flowers and garden crops that will naturally beat out weeds for sunlight, water and nutrients. The same principle applies to your lawn: Maintain a thick, healthy lawn, and you'll have less weeds.

Douse weeds with vinegar (or even the leftover liquid from a jar of pickles) and they'll be DOA a few days later. This is a good method for exterminating weeds with long taproots, like dandelions.

Can Always Learn to Love them weeds:
One man's weed is another man's rose. Many weeds are native plants that Mother Nature intended to thrive — that's why they're so hard to kill. Learning to love weeds is just a matter of looking at them in a different light. For example, in Japan, moss is cultivated for landscaping, while in the U.S., it's commonly eradicated with pesticides.

Weed Killer Recipe
½ gallon of white vinegar. The higher acetic level of vinegar the better. Household white vinegar is 5%, which worked fine for me, but a 9% or higher is preferable. (Have you seen this vinegar infographic?)
½ bottle lemon juice.
½-cup castile soap. Castile soap is a vegetable-based soap.   ( http://blog.savvywomensalliance.org/12-favorite-uses-for-castile-soap )

Texas Rose said...

You have really done a wonderful job with your flowerbeds with this method - and it's eco-friendly also. I love this way of starting a garden and have used it with great success. I call it "instant garden". I have used it to make several flower beds/garden beds. One day I just couldn't wait to plant an herb garden. So I put down cardboard directly on the grass, laid landscape bricks on the edges, filled it with good compost and soil, then planted my herbs the same day. It thrived and I have never had any weed problems.

1st Man said...

Hey, it doesn't hurt anything and it keeps them out of the landfill and makes a great final use. The best thing is when the box is made of 100% recycled paper for the cardboard, then you recycle it again!

1st Man said...

Parsimony, yep, we learned that from the first bark we put down in the garden. Stuff blew in and sprouted and grew. It didn't take long to get out of control. We're definitely going to keep an eye on things and pull them the moment we see them. It's just going to have be part of the routine every weekend.

1st Man said...

Colleen, wow, great info, thanks for that. Love the vinegar idea it makes sense. Thanks again!!!

1st Man said...

Hmm, we have the fabric down now so we don't need that at the moment but I really like the idea, I might just have to try that elsewhere. Thank you!!!

1st Man said...

Newspaper is great too. We just don't have any and I'll be darned if I don't know anyone who gets it. Even in the apartment trash area I never find stacks of newspaper. Times are a changing I suppose, ha. Thanks for the info!!!

1st Man said...

Instant garden is a smart description. I like what you said about the one you did like that, it's exactly what I was imaging in my head. Just putting the cardboard down, holding it down with rocks and then pile up some soil and plant flowers in it. We'll see!!!

I actually need MORE cardboard now, we used it all up!

ConnieK said...

I spread hot/green chicken manure (from a neighbor) over the area where I wanted to kill the grass in the fall. Covered it with cardboard and leaves. By springtime, the leaves and cardboard had decomposed, the grass beneath was dead and the soil was fertilized. The tomatoes and beans grew like crazy.

1st Man said...

That's a good idea. Wow, I will have to remember that. 2nd Family who live at the front of the property , they have chickens!! Thanks for this idea!!