Sunday, March 15, 2009

Weed fabric?

While speaking to a gardening class recently I was asked whether I recommend using a weed barrier or weed fabric. I have been asked this question before so I thought that I should share my thoughts with...

The long and short of it is, there is a time and a place for weed fabric. For instance, in my front yard I have a large expanse of pea gravel. There are a few plants planted amongst the gravel, but for the most part it is a wide, open space. I would highly recommend weed fabric (or “weed barrier” as it is sometimes called) in such an area – otherwise weeds could easily push up through rocks, getting all the sun and errant water they needed, and I would be weeding constantly. Along the borders of the pea-graveled bed, I planted very densely, leaving little space for invasive weeds to mar the landscape. Therefore I didn’t see the need for weed fabric. The plants I placed block out the light and keep the weeds from growing. Another built in defense is my drip-system, which supplies water to an individual plant, rather than the whole area.

Weed fabric does not guarantee a weedless garden. There really is no absolute solution, accept foregoing plants and pouring concrete over everything, but that is not generally a look I promote. Weeds will find their way into any planting: Birds drop seeds, the wind will blow seeds on top of the fabric, and after a good rain, you will unwanted sprouts. Weed fabric is simply a good preventative, not a cure. Adding weed fabric to an entire landscape can increase your costs considerably so be judicious about where you put it - an area with plants placed far apart, a sparse planting, or decorative rock gardens are good candidates.

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