This paper brings out the effect of jute geotextile reinforcement on the load-bearing capacity of sand bed in both planar and geocell forms. A series of laboratory model tests were conducted using a 150 mm diameter (D) circular footing in a steel tank of 900 mm × 900 mm × 800 mm size. For the model tests, the relative density (Rd) of sand was maintained as 70%. The model tests were carried out using the following optimum geometrical parameters—optimum placement depth of first reinforcement layer (u), optimum spacing between the reinforcement layers (h), optimum number of reinforcement layers (N), optimum pocket size of geocell (d), and optimum size of the reinforcement sheet. The performance of both planar and geocell forms of reinforcement was compared. The quantity of reinforcement was maintained the same in both forms. The test results indicate that the improvement in the load-bearing capacity of the reinforced sand bed with planar form is better than the geocell form. Finally, it is concluded that the stiffness of the reinforcement plays a predominant role in the improvement of the load-bearing capacity of the sand beds. © 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd.