This genius tip makes good, nature-friendly use of the packages you drag to the curb on recycling night.
lush garden path surrounded by greenery
Credit: Noe DeWitt

Do you have a series of pathways that lead to your garden? Typically filled with gravel or stones, these walkways connect one section of your yard to another and give your green space structure—plus, they allow for plenty of meandering, so you can admire your many in-bloom varieties during the warm-weather months.

There's only one issue with these natural, un-paved pathways: They are susceptible to weed breakthrough. Allow too many sprouts to form, and you blur the line between turf and path, which, in turn, softens the curated layout of your landscape. Luckily, there is a way to keep these channels weed-free—and, best of all, the method is eco-friendly and ultimately benefits your garden's ecosystem.

Melissa Ozawa, a former Martha Stewart features and garden editor, noticed that her own pathways were punctuated with overgrowth: So, to keep her footpaths free of weeds, she thought outside the box—or rather, on top of it. Instead of protecting her vegetable garden walkways with chemical herbicides or landscape fabric, she deconstructed cardboard boxes (accumulated from shipments during the pandemic) and placed them wherever she wanted to thwart unwanted vegetation.

Here's the genius part: Topped with mulch, pine needles, or gravel, these cardboard boxes slowly biodegrade. To adopt this no-cost, eco-wise solution, remove any labels or tape from your packaging, flatten it, and lay it on the ground, overlapping the pieces slightly. Cover it up with extra gravel, and—would you look at that—you're in the clear.


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