How Long Does Burlap Take to Decompose?

Chances are you’re going through this post because you care about the planet. It’s especially true when it comes to burlap, as it’s a gardening staple.

So, how long does burlap take to decompose?

Normally, maybe a decade or in some cases more. Burlap has some uses in gardening. Its decomposition time has a lot of factors. You should also factor in its alternatives and whether to remove it or not.

This might not be enough for you. Don’t worry, we won’t leave you to rot. Today we’re gonna discuss all this.

Let’s get started!

How Long Does Burlap Take to Decompose? 

how long does burlap take to decompose

Since Burlap is a very resistant fabric, it’s logical for it to be resilient to erosion. However, burlap does decompose over time.

There are two types of burlap; Natural and Synthetic. These decompose differently.

Natural burlaps decompose after a decade, sometimes even more. However, there are several factors that control the rate of decomposition.

Soil pH is one factor. A pH level lower than 6 would significantly slow down the rate of decomposition.

You would need to do a pH test of the soil for this. A pH test strip is needed to test it, so we recommend choosing from our selection-

Soil temperature is also a factor for decay. A low soil temperature would result in a slower decomposition process.   

Synthetic burlap never breaks down, it remains in the soil. This actually poses a problem to the environment as the plastic remains to stay. 

For natural burlap, you may choose to keep it as it is, as it breaks down. But for synthetic burlaps, you have to remove them.

Not removing synthetic burlap will cause roots to grow through it. They may become girdled in the process causing harm to the plant. This might cause the tree to topple over and its root to be strangled. 

Why Is Burlap Needed?

Before you decide on removing your burlap you should be aware of its uses. We’ve jotted down a few of the reasons why it’s used in gardening.


Burlap acts as a form of pest control, such as mice, rats, and other gnawing creatures. These fibers are tough to chew through. As a result, pesty rodents stray from burlap coverings as it’s a hassle.


Synthetic & Natural Burlap weed cloths keep weed seeds from getting into the soil and germinating. At the same time, its high permeability lets water get through freely. 

Gardeners can insert plants in the soil by laying yards of burlap across the garden bed. Remember to cut slits for the plants to grow in.

This helps the plants you want to grow. The burlap covers the soil where the weeds are and robs them of moisture and sunlight.

Burlapped Trees

Nurseries usually sell you young trees by wrapping their roots in burlap. This is to act as a form of controlled growth of the roots. This prevents roots from being tangled between plants.

This also means some of the original soil clings onto the plant. This makes it easier for the plant to acclimate to its new surroundings.

Weather Resistance

Burlap can also be used as a temporary shade cloth for newly transplanted flowers. For individual plant protection, drape the burlap over tomato cages

You could staple it to wooden poles to protect a wider garden area. These burlap covers will also help you extend the growing season by preventing mild frost from setting on your plants.

Choosing the right wooden pole is key. So, we urge you to buy from our selection so you get the best quality-

These are the reasons why burlap is used. Some of these may actually help with your gardening. 

You can only keep the burlap if the pros outweigh the cons. However, if you have treated or synthetic burlap, you must remove it.

How to Remove Burlap?

As mentioned in the previous section, it is imperative to remove your burlap. Especially if it’s synthetic.

To do this you’ll need a few things. These are-

  • Wire Cutters
  • Shovel
  • Pocket knife/ Box cutter

If you’re unsure about which products to invest in, take a look at our picks below-

Down below, we’ve outlined the process you need to follow to remove burlaps-

Begin by cutting vertically up the side of the wire basket with wire cutters. Next, peel the burlap away from the plant. 

Remove all of the rope and twine from the ball, as well as all of the burlap’s nails. Remove any loose burlap by pulling it back and cutting it away. 

Remember that regular burlap under the root ball isn’t a problem. It can remain in place. However, synthetic or treated burlap should be totally removed.

Make sure your tree is upright before carefully packing the original dirt around the root ball to prevent air pockets. Continue backfilling until the dirt reaches the root collar.

Burlap Alternatives

In case you don’t fancy using burlap at all, we’ve up an alternative chart. It has each of the pros and cons of each substitute.

To summarize, this is how long it takes for burlap to decompose. Thus it’s a good idea to remove them if it’s hazardous for the environment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: How do I apply Burlap to my Hydrangea plants?

Answer: You have to wrap the burlap on it. Wrap burlap around the wire or cage, tying it in place using twine.

Question: Is the burlap I use, treated with chemicals?

Answer: Yes burlap is treated with Copper naphthenate to avoid degradation.

Question: When and how do I prepare my water shrubs for winter, using burlap?

Answer:  To insulate the ground, spread 4 inches of bark mulch or ground-up leaves around the base of the plant. 

Bottom Line

Hopefully, we answered the question of how long does burlap take to decompose? We hope our article clarified things for you. Especially regarding when to leave burlap in and when to take it out.

Till then, stay safe and happy gardening!

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