Figaro's Blog

November 30, 2023

Reusing Burlap in the Garden: 7 Unexpected Uses

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a wire rack with several burlap bags of potting soil

Outdoor soils from Figaro’s Garden’s Low-Waste Growing line.

When Figaro’s Garden rolled out our Low-waste Growing line of products in spring 2023, we wanted to ensure that our new packaging had minimal environmental impact. Burlap, a versatile and eco-friendly fabric with abundant potential, was high on our list of materials to try: it’s compostable, and we knew gardeners would enjoy reusing burlap in the garden. Ultimately, we ended up packaging our popular outdoor potting soil and outdoor garden amender in burlap bags. In this post, we’ll look at various ways of reusing burlap in your outdoor space, turning this humble material into a game-changer for your garden.

Burlap Basics

Burlap, derived from the jute plant, boasts a coarse, woven texture that seamlessly combines sturdiness with breathability. Its neutral colour and rustic aesthetic make it an ideal candidate for repurposing. Beyond visual appeal, burlap’s biodegradability is an added bonus. Once you have exhausted their use in the garden, burlap bags can be composted: burlap is accepted in Vancouver’s Green Bin program.

Reusing Burlap in the Garden

Options for repurposing used burlap bags in the landscape range from practical to crafty. Here are seven ways we’re reusing burlap in the garden:

1. Weed and Pest Control

Reusing burlap in the garden by laying it over fall leaves as weed protection

Laying burlap over fall leaves serves as good soil protection and weed control over the winter.

Burlap makes for a versatile and biodegradable weed control solution. Layering it over areas of bare soil, or on top of mulch as a way of reducing erosion, makes for effective weed control. It protects soil, too. This same method deters pests such as cats, skunks, and squirrels from digging in garden beds.

2. Weather Protection

Leverage burlap’s protective properties during colder nights by using it to cover tender plants, safeguarding them from frost. Use as you would row-cover fabric: wrap and secure frost-sensitive perennials such as phormium or rosemary. Read more tips about protecting tender plants over the winter.

3. Grow Bags

While burlap biodegrades quickly, you can often get a season’s use out of it as a grow bag. Grow bags are fabric (or fabric-like) bags filled with a soil medium and used to grow plants. Fold down the top half of Figaro’s 28L burlap bags to double the fabric weight and durability. Then fill with outdoor potting nix and add plants (potatoes are fun to grow this way)! Or, bring hone our outdoor potting soil, use half for another project and leave the remaining soil in place for use as a grow bag.

4. Storage

We all need garden storage. Burlap bags are great for storing your season’s potato harvest (brush soil off first, but don’t rinse). Store dahlia tubers in a burlap bag filled with vermiculite. Or reuse your burlap bags for wrapping and storing hand tools for the winter. 

A mini evergreen tree decorated for Christmas and wrapped in burlap around the root ball

Burlap makes for a lovely decorative overwrap for containers.

5. Creative Planters and Pots

We love reusing burlap to add decorative flair to planters and pots. Wrap flower pots with burlap for a cost-effective and stylish solution.

For those who appreciate vertical gardening, consider reusing burlap in hanging planters. The porous nature of burlap facilitates proper drainage, preventing overwatering and promoting robust root growth.

6. Basket and Pot Liners

Breathable burlap makes a fantastic liner for wire hanging baskets and window boxes. Use in place of, or on the outside of, coir liners. Line the inside of containers with burlap before planting to provide an extra layer of insulation from heat and frost.

7. Protecting Newly Seeded Beds 

Newly seeded plants are particularly vulnerable to heat, drought, and damage from garden pests. Sheets of burlap placed over the garden bed and secured with pegs or stones work nicely to protect newly-sown seeds from critters. They also help to retain soil moisture and provide needed shade to emerging seedlings during heat waves. Once seedlings are established, remove the burlap.

In the ongoing quest for sustainable living, reusing burlap in the garden is a small yet impactful step. From weed control to frost protection and stylish planters, burlap offers a myriad of benefits for both you and your garden. Embrace the versatility of this eco-friendly fabric!


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