Knowledge from Olle Garden Bed:5 Alternatives to Coverings

Covering is the basic practice of any gardener or horticulturist. It provides many benefits for your garden, such as weed control, moisture retention, and soil conservation. The following content also has some reference value for raised garden beds.

Traditional and natural covering materials such as bark and sawdust are the most common choices. However, some alternatives provide sustainable and cost-effective ways to enhance the health and beauty of gardens.

5 Best Covering Alternatives

It's almost time to dirty your hands in the garden! Discover the five best alternative coverings!

Pine needle

Pine needles are a popular substitute for covering. They not only have a longer lifespan than traditional materials, but also enrich the soil during slow decomposition.

They regulate soil temperature, making summer cool and winter warm. The loose mat formed by pine needles allows air and water to pass through, preventing plants from drying out or suffocating.

To properly cover with pine needles, lay a layer between 3 and 4 inches thick and leave approximately 3 inches of space around the plant stem. Avoid layering pine needles more than 4 inches to prevent water runoff.

Pine needles can last throughout the season, but their effectiveness will decrease. Replace them after that deadline to maintain their benefits, or replace them earlier if they start to collapse or fail to provide the expected results.

Grass shavings

Grass dust is an excellent covering that can help suppress weeds, maintain moisture, and improve soil quality. Unlike other coverings, if you trim the lawn, they are easy to obtain and do not require any cost.

Lay a layer at least 6 inches thick around the plant, leaving some space around the stem. This will help prevent the covering from coming into direct contact with them, which may lead to their decay.

As grass chips decompose, they slowly release nutrients such as nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. This process will help regulate water levels and keep plants healthy and happy throughout the season.

Grass chips can last for several weeks, but their lifespan may vary depending on the thickness of the layer, so it is important to replace them before they lose their effectiveness.


Using straw mulch can prevent the growth of weeds in the open space around garden plants and between garden rows. The porous nature of straw allows water to flow through it, allowing the entire garden surface to be covered without worrying about moisture.

In addition, straw mulch can maintain moisture, reduce evaporation, and help regulate soil temperature during hot and cold months.

To start covering the straw, loosen the bundle and gently separate the compressed parts to make the straw fluffy. Next, before laying 3 to 4 inches of straw on top, lay a barrier layer of newspaper or cardboard. You can use thicker layers of 5 to 6 inches without the need for barrier layers.

Straw can be a useful covering material that lasts for about a year, depending on weather conditions and the thickness of the layer you place. Ensure to delete and apply new layers when the time is ripe.


Rubber coverings are known for their softness and ability to replicate natural ground sensations. It is made from recycled tires and is an environmentally friendly alternative that reduces waste by using recycled materials. It also does not attract certain pests, maintains good performance during floods and wind events, and effectively controls weeds.

Prepare the ground by removing weeds and debris. Before placing the cover, lay the weed barrier fabric first; This can make cleaning easier in the future. Next, spread the cover at least 2 to 3 inches deep, and for high flow areas, a maximum of 6 inches can be spread.

Rubber coverings can usually be used for 10 to 12 years because of their durability and weather resistance. However, please pay close attention to it to ensure that it does not become compact.


Leaf covering includes using a lawn mower or leaf shredder to cut fallen leaves into small pieces. The resulting cover will protect your garden bed and shrubs during winter, prevent weed growth, and save water during the growing season.

When covering leaves, please ensure that the blade of the lawn mower is sharp and the leaves are dry, as wet leaves can clog the lawn mower and make a mess.

You can cover up to 6 inches of dry leaves. However, if there are thick deposits, you may need to inspect the area multiple times before cutting them up. Spread the cover evenly to prevent water accumulation and root rot.

To maintain the benefits of leaf cover, replace it once a year or as needed when it begins to decompose or loses its effectiveness in inhibiting weeds and maintaining moisture.

Benefits of Coverage

Covering is an important practice for maintaining healthy plants and thriving gardens. Explore the main benefits of coverage to make informed decisions about taking care of gardens and landscaping projects.

Weed control

Covering can prevent and slow down the germination of weed seeds, effectively controlling weed growth. By blocking light and providing a barrier for new seedlings, the cover reduces the need for artificial or chemical herbicides.

Soil temperature regulation

Covering keeps the soil warm or cool, depending on the type, thickness, and color of cover you use. By adjusting the temperature, covering can protect plants from frost or heat stress, ensuring optimal growth and harvest.


Covering helps reduce surface evaporation and retain more water in the soil. By covering the soil, mulch can capture water and prevent it from evaporating. It is imperative in hot and dry climates or during periods of drought.

Reduce soil erosion

Covering reduces soil erosion by reducing the impact of rainwater and runoff. When water falls on exposed soil, it washes away soil particles and exposes plant roots. Covering can serve as a protective layer, reducing soil erosion and maintaining a healthy environment.

Disease prevention

By protecting the aboveground plant parts from soil borne fungi and bacteria, covering can help curb the spread of diseases. In addition, they can also protect fruits from direct contact with the soil surface, reducing the possibility of decay.

  garden beds

Dirty your hands with cover magic

Covering is a basic practice for maintaining healthy plants and thriving gardens. You can use traditional covering materials such as tree bark or try many available alternatives.

Pine needles, grass shavings, straws, rubber, and leaves are some of the best cover choices. They have many benefits, such as weed control, water conservation, soil temperature regulation, reducing soil erosion, and preventing diseases. By selecting the correct coverage options, you can enhance the health and beauty of your garden!