This is … interesting



According to a story I found on the ABC News site: mats made from recycled human hair are great for weed suppression and fertilization. Apparently, a nursery owner in Florida has been testing a product from another Florida company, Smart Grow. He says he’s saved thousands using it. I guess the hair suppresses weeds, and provides a good environment for beneficial microorganisms (according to U. of Florida scientists who are testing this with tomatoes). The hair provides some very slow-release nitrogen as well.

I don’t see this being of great benefit to the average home gardener, especially gardeners like us, who tend to use lots of mulch and whose plots are so plant-packed, the weeds don’t have a chance. At least that’s what I’ve found. I very rarely have to weed, except in out-of-the-way areas I’ve been neglecting.

What I do wonder about is the possible protection against animals that the mats may supply. I have heard of hair being used to repel deer and other plant-marauders, which ARE a huge problem for many gardeners in our region. Now, that would be something.

Another product for Jeff Gillman to test!

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at


  1. FWIW, at the risk of sounding like a total freakazoid, you can also compost human hair–something I’ve only done on those rare occasions when I’ve had a home haircut. But fingernails and toenails? All the time.

    File under Too Much Information if you must, but I kind of enjoy the ashes-to-ashes/dust-to-dust component of it all.

  2. I can just see the people that work in Hair Salons and Barber Shops sweeping the days work into a bin and selling it.

  3. Oh fer chrissakes. This is very squeamish talk from people who regularly employ products with the words “blood,” “bone,” and “manure” on their labels.

  4. Interesting that the photo shows only black hair! Is this another industry that’s been outsourced to India?Will we be seeing a report on 60 Minutes about the bald children of Calcutta??!!
    Puts a whole new spin on ” hair in my salad”!!

  5. Not sure I want to touch this one (pun intended). I have a good friend who’s a researcher at Homestead — I’ve got to find out the whole story.

  6. OK, so I checked the story, and the hair comes from China. It’ll probably be discovered to be saturated with rat poison after we’ve all been using it for a year!!

  7. I hear human hair’s great for repelling deer. But ya, it creeps me out. Blood, bones, manure, hair–it’s just a bit grosser when it comes from humans. And I don’t want to feel like I’m unclogging the bathroom sink when I’m gardening.

  8. Julie, at The Human Flower Project had an in-depth post on this very subject a couple of months ago.

    I remember back in my early “Organic Gardening and Farming” days reading suggestions that we try getting hair clippings from barbers and beauty shops. Whenever I clean out my brush, I always put the hair in the compost pail.

    Jeez. If you guys are this freaked out about hair, I’m not going to tell you what (beside Christmas trees) goes into Dillo Dirt.

  9. Oh, I almost forgot…the NBC Nightly News had a story about the hair sources from monasteries in India where people go to have their head shaved as a sacrifice. The monasteries then sell the hair and make quite a bit of money doing so. Talk about recycling as a means of financial independence.

  10. Why is it that human hair on the head is beautiful but human hair anywhere else is icky? Hair jewelry used to be all the rage in Victorian times. Now we just say “ick.”

    That said, I “recycled” my hair twice by growing it to waist length, then having it cut to shoulder length and donating the hair to Locks of Love. Besides getting free haircuts out of the deal, it feels pretty good to know that the usable parts of my hair went to help make a wig for a child who has no hair.

  11. Some years ago, there were articles about waste wool being fantastic weed-suppressing mats, but I guess it didn’t turn out to be cost-effective because I never saw them being sold in the stores.

    I have bought wool liners for hanging baskets — they have worked great. I’d buy the wool mats for weed suppression if there were out there.

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