Asked on Mar 15, 2018

Can I use tar paper instead of garden fabric on my flower beds?

by Mar6780907
I have a lot of ?Gout Weed throughout my gardens and I want to smother them out? Becayse I have so many gardens it would be too expensive to cover them all with garden wrap!

  11 answers
  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Mar 15, 2018 will not allow the proper drainage

  • Amanda Amanda on Mar 15, 2018

    Hi Marge. You should not use it for any vegetable gardens. I found a link to help you decide. Good luck!

  • Jennifer Jennifer on Mar 15, 2018

    Tar paper does not pose any environmental concerns when used for its intended purpose under shingles on a roof, but it is made with tar which is at the bottom of the barrel in the petroleum refinement process. To be safe, do not use it around food-producing plants like vegetable gardens or fruit orchards.

    Tar paper will prevent weeds from growing by blocking any sunlight from reaching them. Since it is designed to be a water barrier for roofing, it will also tend to cause water to pool. Professional landscape fabric (sometimes called weed barrier) stops the weeds while allowing water to pass through.

    Tar paper is less expensive, but with the extra money spent, a good landscaping fabric will out-perform tar paper without any worry of contamination.

    • Wanda Cason Wanda Cason on Jul 11, 2018

      Thank you, Jennifer. I will dispose of the tar paper and resume the cardboard/newspaper smothering technique.

  • Daniel D Brewer Daniel D Brewer on Mar 15, 2018

    put down a heavy layer of news paper and cardboard with any tape removed. Tar paper will put some nasty stuff into your garden that you do not want.

  • Susan krom Susan krom on Mar 15, 2018

    No on the tar paper. How about using plastic trash bags that are cut open to make a square-then slit them for some drainage.

  • William William on Mar 15, 2018

    Tar paper will also contaminate the soil as it breaks down. Go with newspaper, cardboard, plastic sheeting.

  • Atd33292245 Atd33292245 on Apr 27, 2018

    Does anyone know what chemicals would leach out of tar pape?

  • Mar6780907 Mar6780907 on Apr 27, 2018

    yes,Thank You to all who sent me advice .I will definately not use the tar paper !

  • Sharon Whitehead Sharon Whitehead on Jun 06, 2018

    I just put down the tar paper because I had extra leftover. I weeded the area, applied the tarpaper, added topsoil about 2 ", then 1-2 " mulch. I planted a shrub rose sticking out of the paper and some impatiens in a row on top of the tarpaper with a rock border to hold the shape. I am adding more mulch today. this is a 60 year old 3 x 5 flower bed next to the front porch. I have not had much luck with landscape fabric. I used a plastic tarp with pebble rock around a firepit, tarp held up well, but weeds grew in & around the pebble rock. "weed seeds and dust ", I guess.

  • Kathy Kathy on Apr 24, 2020

    I have tar paper and wanted to heat up the soil to kill any seeds left from the weeds I tried pulling. If I leave it on the area for a few days would that be enough to kill the seeds? I would remove it before planting. I will mulch after.

  • Alex Alex on May 27, 2023

    Yes it can.. I’ve done it. Those that say don’t is because they don’t know how.. But there’s a right way and wrong way. I’m just going to post correct way and prove that those who say no are wrong. Because 2 years after doing it only weeds I get are a few around edges.. but I warn you it’s more work than landscaping fabric but worth the effort.

    1- it won’t contaminate the ground so no worries there, and lasts longer.

    2- laying against foundation with a 1-2 ft stripe sloped away helps keep foundation dryer. (Don’t puncture this layer obviously)

    3- start at top hill or highest ground level of flower/ garden bed. Lay 1 line of tar paper usually is 3-4 foot wide. Cut 4-5 inches away from existing plants you want.

    two-thirds of the way down that paper puncture holes 4 inches apart in a line and 4 inches apart per line.. save your back and your knees I used rebar and small sledgehammer to eliminate kneeling.

    if you have some river rock put 1 rock between each hole between 1 line and second line of puncture holes.

    next lay another layer of tar paper

    and repeat process until last section

    puncture holes but 8-10 inches apart and put a few river rocks around each hole unless bed is river rock than skip it if mulching than add rocks around each hole with one rock on hole itself as It weighs tar paper in punctured spots like funnel.

    4- planting new just cut a hole in tar paper a few inches wider than the pot the plant is in if it’s an annual cut same size as the pot as you will be replanting next year. For flower bulbs 2-4 inches wide will suffice depending on size of bulb. As for trees it depends on size baby tree 6-12 inches wider than the pot bigger trees 12-24 wider than pot and and add landscaping fabric around it as it drains better than tar paper but won’t last as long tar paper.. but at least this will save work in future (replacing small circle as apposed to entire bed)

    don’t worry about tree maturity because tar paper will eventually breakdown but not long before tree has matured.

    summation- tried and true method of using tar paper as landscaping fabric doesn’t come easy initially but pays itself off in time, work and maintenance costs as well as prolonging life of your foundation by years. And ignore those who say it can’t or shouldn’t be done because they have tried failed and given up.. imagine if Edison gave up on lightbulb.. key is to re-think how you’re using the materials, modifying them to fit your needs, altering placement or design to of materials and tools is basis of human mind.