This paper evaluates the optimum geometrical parameters of jute geotextile reinforcement for the load-bearing capacity based on the laboratory model tests carried out on 50, 100 and 150 mm diameter (D) circular footings resting on sand bed. These footing sizes were obtained using a scaling down factor of 4 for the prototype foundations so as to obtain the behavior of an actual prototype structure. Geotextile reinforcement was also scaled down using appropriate scaling factors. The natural jute geotextile reinforcement layers were placed as planar sheets and the optimum reinforcement geometrical parameters were evaluated using 150 mm diameter circular footing for the load-bearing capacity of sand. Further, the effect of the footing size on improvement of load-bearing capacity of both unreinforced and reinforced sand beds was brought out using circular footings of 50, 100 and 150 mm diameter. The experimental results showed that the optimum depth and vertical spacing of jute geotextile reinforcement layer(s) for the load-bearing capacity were found to be 0.31–0.32D and 0.28–0.3D, respectively, depending on the settlement criteria. The optimum width of reinforcement layer was found to be 3.5D, while the optimum number of reinforcement layers was found to be 4. The surface deformations are also in conformity with the optimum geometrical parameters obtained from the load-bearing tests. Further, the load-bearing capacity of unreinforced and reinforced sand beds increased with the increase in footing size. However, the bearing capacity ratio decreased with the increase in size of footing. © 2019, Springer Nature Switzerland AG.