Using Burlap Sheets in Organic Gardening

Using Burlap Sheets in Organic Gardening

Organic gardening is more than just a method of growing plants; it's a philosophy that emphasizes sustainability, natural processes, and minimal impact on the environment. One tool that has gained popularity among organic gardeners is the burlap sheet. This versatile, biodegradable material offers numerous benefits, from weed control to soil health enhancement. In this blog post, we'll explore the various uses of burlap sheets in organic gardening, their benefits, and how to effectively incorporate them into your gardening practices.

What is Burlap?

Burlap, also known as hessian, is a woven fabric made from natural fibers, typically jute or hemp. It's known for its durability and breathability, making it a popular choice for various agricultural and gardening applications. Burlap sheets are available in different weights and sizes, such as the 100% Natural Burlap Sheet (10 oz, 80" x 80") from GrowOrganic, which is a robust option for multiple gardening needs.

Benefits of Using Burlap Sheets in Organic Gardening

  1. Weed Control

One of the primary uses of burlap sheets in organic gardening is as a weed barrier. Weeds compete with plants for nutrients, water, and sunlight, often hindering the growth of desired crops. By covering the soil with burlap, you can effectively suppress weed growth. The fabric blocks sunlight, which prevents weed seeds from germinating, while still allowing air and water to penetrate the soil.

  1. Soil Erosion Prevention

Burlap sheets are excellent for preventing soil erosion, especially on slopes or in areas prone to heavy rainfall. When laid over the soil, burlap stabilizes the surface and reduces the impact of rainwater, preventing the soil from washing away. This is particularly useful in newly planted areas where soil is loose and vulnerable.

  1. Moisture Retention

Maintaining consistent soil moisture is crucial for healthy plant growth. Burlap sheets help retain soil moisture by reducing evaporation. This is especially beneficial during hot, dry periods when water conservation is essential. By keeping the soil moist, burlap can reduce the frequency of watering, saving both time and resources.

  1. Seed Germination

Burlap sheets can create an ideal environment for seed germination. When placed over newly sown seeds, the fabric helps retain moisture and warmth, creating a microclimate that promotes faster and more uniform germination. Once the seeds have sprouted, the burlap can be removed to allow for unobstructed growth.

  1. Soil Health Improvement

Organic gardening focuses on building healthy soil, and burlap can play a role in this process. As burlap decomposes, it adds organic matter to the soil, improving its structure and fertility. This slow release of nutrients benefits soil microorganisms, which in turn support plant health.

  1. Frost Protection

In cooler climates, burlap sheets can provide a layer of protection against frost. By covering plants with burlap during cold nights, you can shield them from freezing temperatures, extending the growing season and protecting tender crops.

How to Use Burlap Sheets in Your Garden

  1. Weed Control

    • Preparation: Clear the area of existing weeds and debris.
    • Laying the Burlap: Spread the burlap sheet over the soil, ensuring it covers the entire area.
    • Securing the Burlap: Use garden staples or rocks to anchor the edges of the burlap, preventing it from blowing away.
    • Planting: Cut small slits or holes in the burlap where you want to plant seeds or transplants.
  2. Soil Erosion Prevention

    • Preparation: Level the soil and remove any large debris.
    • Laying the Burlap: Lay the burlap sheet over the slope or area prone to erosion.
    • Securing the Burlap: Anchor the edges and corners with garden staples, rocks, or stakes.
    • Maintenance: Check periodically to ensure the burlap remains in place, especially after heavy rain.
  3. Moisture Retention

    • Preparation: Water the soil thoroughly before laying the burlap.
    • Laying the Burlap: Spread the burlap sheet over the soil, ensuring it covers the entire area.
    • Securing the Burlap: Anchor the edges with garden staples or rocks.
    • Watering: Water the burlap occasionally to keep it damp, enhancing its moisture-retention properties.
  4. Seed Germination

    • Preparation: Sow seeds according to the package instructions.
    • Laying the Burlap: Gently lay the burlap sheet over the seeded area.
    • Securing the Burlap: Anchor the edges with garden staples or rocks.
    • Monitoring: Check regularly for seed germination and remove the burlap once seedlings emerge.
  5. Soil Health Improvement

    • Preparation: Prepare the soil as you normally would for planting.
    • Laying the Burlap: Use burlap as a mulch layer around plants.
    • Securing the Burlap: Anchor the edges with garden staples or rocks.
    • Maintenance: Allow the burlap to decompose naturally, adding organic matter to the soil over time.
  6. Frost Protection

    • Preparation: Identify plants that need protection from frost.
    • Laying the Burlap: Drape the burlap sheet over the plants, covering them completely.
    • Securing the Burlap: Use garden staples, rocks, or stakes to anchor the edges.
    • Monitoring: Remove the burlap during the day to allow sunlight to reach the plants, and replace it in the evening if frost is expected.

Tips for Using Burlap Sheets in Organic Gardening

  • Choosing the Right Burlap: Opt for untreated, natural burlap sheets to avoid introducing chemicals into your garden. The 100% Natural Burlap Sheet (10 oz, 80" x 80") from GrowOrganic is an excellent choice.
  • Cutting and Shaping: Use sharp scissors or a utility knife to cut the burlap into the desired shapes and sizes.
  • Reusing Burlap: Burlap sheets can be reused for multiple seasons if they remain in good condition. Shake off any soil and debris, and store them in a dry place when not in use.
  • Combining with Other Mulches: Burlap can be used in combination with other organic mulches, such as straw or wood chips, to enhance its effectiveness.
  • Monitoring Decomposition: Over time, burlap will decompose and integrate into the soil. Monitor the condition of the burlap and replace it as needed.

Environmental Considerations

Using burlap sheets in organic gardening aligns with sustainable practices. Burlap is made from renewable plant fibers and is biodegradable, reducing the environmental impact compared to synthetic materials. By incorporating burlap into your gardening routine, you're contributing to a more sustainable and eco-friendly approach to gardening.


Burlap sheets are a versatile and valuable tool in organic gardening. Their benefits, including weed control, soil erosion prevention, moisture retention, and soil health improvement, make them an excellent choice for gardeners looking to enhance their practices sustainably. By understanding how to effectively use burlap sheets, you can improve the health and productivity of your garden while minimizing environmental impact. Whether you're a seasoned gardener or just starting your organic gardening journey, burlap sheets are a practical and eco-friendly addition to your gardening toolkit.

To purchase burlap fabric for your garden, click here.

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