Unique Ways to Use Sheep's Wool in Your Home and Garden

It can be used for far more than just the obvious choice: clothing.

Sheep wool

AStarphotographer / Getty Images

There are a number of atypical sheep's wool solutions to consider if you are looking to live in a more sustainable way. After all, sheep's wool can be used for far more than just the obvious choice: clothing.

In Europe, and other regions where sheep farming is common, sheep farmers may find it difficult to make any money from wool. They typically have to shear their sheep for welfare reasons, but they rarely make much from the fleeces. 

While once wool was commonly used for clothing and textiles, now it has become less common in many areas as options like cotton and synthetic textile have taken off. There is a growing interest in sustainable fibers and fabrics. And in some circles, woollen clothing (from sustainable, organic sheep farms) is rising in popularity. But the profits of this burgeoning interest in sustainable fashion are not always filtering through to farmers. 

Supporting local, sustainable sheep farmers (who do not allow over-grazing and rear their animals ethically, in diverse permaculture systems such as agroforestry schemes) can be a wonderful idea. You may support them by purchasing woollen clothes or perhaps meat from their flock. Ultimately, both sheep farmers and consumers can also consider other uses for sheep's wool in homes and gardens. 

Sheep's Wool in My Barn Conversion

One interesting sheep's wool solution is using it as insulation. In Europe, this is a fairly common solution in sustainable renovation and construction. I personally have used sheep's wool insulation batts in the loft space of my barn conversion. 

In the U.S., you can source sheep's wool insulation here or here, for example. A mix of raw and post-consumer recycled wool is also used as insulation by Oregon Shepherd. And SheepWul insulation could be another option to consider. 

Sheep's Wool Mattresses and Bedding

Sheep's wool's properties mean it can also be very useful in your bedroom, and not just in woolen blankets. Purchasing or selling mattresses made with wool and other natural materials, duvets or comforters filled with wool, or wool pillows, for example, is another interesting solution to consider. These can help people to avoid the synthetic, high-cost materials that are often used for these purposes. And they also create a much healthier sleeping environment. 

Sheep's Wool Rugs and Carpets

Reclaimed wood floors and other hard flooring solutions like cork can be the most sustainable and healthy solution for your home. In my barn conversion, I plan to have reclaimed wood flooring throughout most of the property. But I will, of course, be placing rugs to soften things here and there. 

Many carpets and rugs on the market are unfortunately made from synthetic materials, which come at a high environmental cost. In comparison, 100% organic sheep's wool rugs and carpets are a far more sustainable and healthy solution for your home. 

Sheep's Wool Mulch

Sheep's wool can also be useful in the garden. I recommend sheep's wool clippings, fleeces, and wool mats can be used to conserve water and protect the soil around plants.

Wool can also be used as an alternative to plastic sheeting to deal with problematic weeds, suppressing weed growth. In cold winter climates, mulching with wool can also help protect root systems from frost. 

You can also use sheep's wool to like a hanging basket as an alternative to synthetic liners or sphagnum moss. 

Sheep's Wool Compost/ Fertilizer

Dalesfoot Composts, in England, formulates a sustainable peat-free compost from sheep's wool and bracken. At home, you can add untreated and un-dyed sheep's wool to your composting system. I sometimes add sheep's wool scraps collected from farm fields near my home to my compost. 

If you are a sheep farmer, you might consider making use of wool which is not of great commercial value in this way. It could provide you with an additional revenue stream for your sheep farm. 

Wild Valley Farms in the U.S. have also pelletized waste sheep's wool and turned it into useful organic fertilizer for home gardeners. They've also created biodegradable Nutri Wool plant pots using sheep's wool. 

Of course, the examples I give are just a few solutions that I find helpful in my home and garden. There are many uses for sheep's wool which can be extremely sustainable, low impact solutions, as long as the sheep were reared in an ethical and sustainable way. 

One other interesting and unusual solution involves using wool to create sustainable packaging, for example. Woolcool was founded in 2008. They produce high-performance insulated packaging from 100% sheep wool fibers. 

Exploring interesting solutions for sheep's wool beyond wool clothing can help sheep farmers diversify their income, and help us all to live and garden in a more sustainable way.