Recycling Cardboard in the Garden

Hubby and I have been moved into our new house for almost four weeks now, and I ran into the problem of what to do with all those empty moving boxes. Yes, I could just fill up the truck and take them to the county recycling center, but why let them have all the fun?


I managed to find a use for the cardboard that solved several problems at once. First, I had a ton of cardboard, much of which was no longer usable for moving or storage, since they had also helped my grandfather move a year earlier and were showing more than just a little wear-and-tear. I couldn’t just give them away to someone else who was moving. Also, since we closed six weeks later than originally planned, and the sellers moved out on the date originally planned, there was a six week period where the lawn was not mowed. In July. During the rainy season. We did ask the sellers to mow the lawn (all three acres of it) before the closing, and they did, but we didn’t think to ask them to rake up all the thatch.

Needless to say, while I was inside cleaning and painting like mad to meet the move-in-day deadline, poor Hubby was outside raking up a 2” thick later of thatch that would have killed the lawn if not removed quickly. In July. During the humidity season. Poor guy.

I identified an area suitable for a veggie garden and had Hubby toss all the thatch in that general area to be composted. It turned out to be quite a pile! About two weeks after moving in most of the unpacking had been done and we turned our attention to the garden. We fenced in the area to make it chicken-proof and I spent some time removing all the tape from the empty moving boxes.

Cardboard 1

First I layered the cardboard two layers thick and then covered it with about 8” of thatch, starting around the edges and moving my way toward the center where the Giant Pile of Thatch was. The beauty of this is that the cardboard and thatch will kill the lawn underneath so I don’t have to kill myself tilling next year, and the cardboard and grass will all compost down by spring, enriching the soil in my new garden! As an added bonus, I don’t have to haul all those boxes to the dump, so I save gas and labor. How green can you get?

Cardboard 2

This is as far as I’ve gotten so far–I ran out of cardboard! Guess it’s time to unpack the rest of my boxes. I’ve brought my strawberries from my old house and the one lonely tomato that didn’t get root bound and die in the extra six weeks it took to close. The containers will just sit on top of the thatch and I put the tomato in the ground, using cardboard and thatch as mulch. This is a fairly small garden, 16’ X 16’ or so, but it will do for the next few years until we start on the raised garden box project in another area of the yard. I also plan on using this cardboard method in a large flower bed in the front yard which has become overgrown–I doubt I’ll have time this year to bother with planting any flowers, so why not make it easier on myself in the spring? You can bet the county won’t be getting any more of my cardboard now that I’ve found a use for it!  I can forsee myself hoarding a year’s worth of cardboard in a shed somewhere just waiting for fall so I can lay it all out in my planting areas!

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One Response to Recycling Cardboard in the Garden

  1. craftymadre says:

    I used cardboard last time I made a flower bed. It was super easy, although a couple years later I do have some weeding to do. It’s certainly a lot more environmentally friendly than buying weed barrier and mulch. I have to remember to use my lawnmower bag at the end of the summer to help put my garden down.

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