Using straw in the garden – to nurture plants and suppress weed growth

Thinking of using straw in the garden? This organic material is loved by experts – and it's easy to see why

Straw mulch in a garden
(Image credit: GettyImages)

There are a host of benefits to using straw in the garden – whether you're using it as vegetable mulch or as a natural way to limit weed growth. 

This simple but effective garden idea is one of the most durable materials to bring into your exteriors – so it is no surprise that experts love its versatility. Here are the best ways to make this sustainable garden idea work in your space.  

Using straw in the garden – 3 expert-approved ways to incorporate its natural goodness

Straw mulch in a garden

(Image credit: GettyImages)

Straw in the garden is best used like a mulch, so as a barrier to protect from weed germination and to also help shield the soil from the sun to increase the soil's water retention,' says Horticulture expert Eric De Boer

However, its benefits don't end there. It is also 'beneficial as a source of organic matter' and promotes healthy organic growth. Here are the top three benefits that the professionals want you to know.  

1. Using straw to suppress weed growth  

Straw mulch in a garden

(Image credit: GettyImages)

If you're wondering how to get rid of weeds, then straw may be a secret asset in your battle for a weed-free garden. 'Straw is a natural weed suppressor. It will help keep weeds from growing in the garden while also conserving moisture,' says Certified Horticulturist and Land Manager from The Indoor Nursery, Brody Hall. 

Straw is especially effective when used as mulch around your vegetable plants. It protects the soil from sunlight, meaning your crops can grow freely with fewer weeds – and surprisingly more moisture. 'Straw helps to promote moisture retention and improve drainage, keeping your vegetable plants hydrated and healthy,' adds Gardening Boost's Founder, Rodger St Hilaire. 

2. Using straw to regulate your soil's climate 

Straw mulch in a garden

(Image credit: GettyImages)

'Mulching with straw is a great way to keep the soil moist and cool, and it helps to reduce erosion,' explains Lindsey Hyland, the Founder of Urban Organic Yield. This is because the material acts as a natural insulator that encourages healthy vegetable plants. 

'You can also use it as an amendment to the soil by mixing it in to help improve the moisture retention and nutrient content,' Lindsey adds. 

3. Using straw's beneficial bacteria

Straw mulch in a garden

(Image credit: GettyImages)

Straw may be good for your vegetable garden ideas, but it produces a healthy environment for all plants thanks to its good bacteria. 

'Straw supports beneficial soil-borne bacteria. These bacteria, often protozoa, are important for breaking down organic matter in the soil – to create a healthy environment for plants to grow in,' Brody adds. 

Using straw in the garden has a range of benefits – it's time to experiment with them in your exteriors. 

Megan Slack
Megan Slack

Megan is a News Writer across Future Plc’s homes titles, including Homes & Gardens and Livingetc. As a News Writer, she often focuses on emerging microtrends, sleep and wellbeing stories, and celebrity-focused pieces. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.