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Using weed control fabric

Last post 07-10-2009 10:47 AM by James Gardner. 8 replies.

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  • 27/04/2009 09:18 PM
    • Kittiwake
    • Gateshead
    • 27 Apr 2009
    • 5
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    Help!  I could do with some advice.   I've got a medium-sized garden with a biggish weed problem so I thought I'd try to cut down on the amount of weeding I need to do by planting through weed-control fabric when I plant up a new bed this year.  I've used it before as a temporary measure to protect areas of the garden that have been dug over and are waiting to be planted, but never as a permanent fixture, apart from on the floor of the greenhouse.  I'm assuming I prepare the soil, spread the fabric over the bed and peg it down and then cut holes to plant through - it that right or is there something else I should be doing?  It's all a bit alien to me because I like to be able to let things spread and seed themselves and I'm worried I'll get the placement of the plants wrong.   Also, is the heavier type of fabric better?  That's what I used in the greenhouse and the couch grass still managed to get through!

  • 28/04/2009 11:22 PM
    • Green Goblin
    • The Potting Shed
    • 28 Apr 2009
    • 8
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    Hi Kittiwake,

     I avoid planting through membrane where possible because it is difficult to do and I think it has limited use where you intend to mulch over it with bark chippings, the bark chippings will mulch down over a couple of yearss to provide an excellent medium for weeds to root into over the top of the membrane. If i was intending to use gravel or a small grade inert material as a mulch then I would use membrane. I have had good results with Plantex which is a medium grade fabric, the thinner stuff rips easily and the thicker woven polypropylene frays annoyingly and doesn't stop all weeds. I have also successfully mulched planted areas with large beach pebbles or scottish cobbles with no membrane and had few weed problems as seeds find it hard to germinate in a medium with large air pockets and maximum drainage.

     Good Luck

     Green Goblin

  • 29/04/2009 07:55 AM
    • oldhippy
    • Surrey
    • 25 Feb 2009
    • 80
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    Hi Kittiwake

    I tend to agree with green goblin here, landscape membrane is best under gravels and the like to keep it out of the soil. A thick mulch of decent compost is best, bark is ok but be ready to keep raking it back onto the bed after the Blackbirds have been rumaging through it. Also avoid wood chips which tends to use up nitrogen when breaking down - only any good in a play areas really.

    Having said that I have used membrane in areas badly affected by ground elder, it will find the gaps but is certainly more controllable. Always use a heavier grade membrane, the light fleecy type is not good, a lot of weeds will quite happily root into it and when you weed you end up pulling the membrane up as well.

    Lastly - probably obvious, but I'll say it anyway,- it's only really possible to use membrane where you are growing shrubs and trees, too many holes through it defeats the object of using it.

    oldhippy

  • 29/04/2009 08:13 AM
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    Better to fix the weed problem or you will be forever tugging weeds out of the planting holes.

     For couch grass remember that glyphosate weedkiller is extremely effective.

     

    Boggy

    Beware the bat-eared bogweevil
  • 01/05/2009 06:06 AM
    • Kittiwake
    • Gateshead
    • 27 Apr 2009
    • 5
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    Thanks chaps, some good advice here.  I was thinking of using a mulch of slate chippings with a 'river' of washed cobbles running through the bed which is about 30 ft long by 5 ft wide (it looks good in my mind's-eye!) but it's interesting to know that the weeds are less likely to get a hold in amongst bigger grade material so I might go for cobbles over the whole bed.  I have already treated the bed with glyphosate twice but I'm going to do it again before I lay the fabric.  Ideally I would prefer to weed it out rather than use weed-killer and I do that in the rest of the garden, but although the garden isn't huge it's a very steep, terraced  site and is quite a challenge to work in many ways.  In the end it comes down to the fact that I don't have the time (or to be honest, the energy these days) to do the amount of weeding I need to keep on top of the couch grass.  It does feel a bit like I'm giving in though Sad

  • 01/05/2009 08:21 AM
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    For glyphosate to work you have to treat it in growing weather, April to September, for best effect, so a summer campaign followed by autumn planting might be the best plan.

    Ground cover fabic on slopes can lead to excessive run-off of rain and very dry conditions.

     

    Boggy

    Beware the bat-eared bogweevil
  • 01/05/2009 03:09 PM
    • Kittiwake
    • Gateshead
    • 27 Apr 2009
    • 5
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    Fortunately run off isn't a problem in this case because although the garden is steep it's divided into 6 level terraces.  You're right about the glyphosate though, this terrace has been waiting to be planted up for almost 6 years so I guess I need to have just a bit more patience and wait till the autumn for planting. I might scatter a few packets of annual seeds so at least there's a bit of colour.  

     

  • 01/10/2009 11:52 AM
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    I have recently used Terram in a planting area of my garden, I am a total novice when it comes to gardening so looked online and bought from terramlandscape.com I bought the weedguard and it was really easy to use - in fact i actually used one of their how to guides and have printed more of them off for reference for ideas i have for my garden, i determined to know what I am doing before next spring he he

     Will let you know if I know of anything else.

  • 07/10/2009 10:47 AM
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    If you must use weed membrane in planting areas use only the degradable type as it is not suitable for permenant use. It inhibits the natural function of the soils fauna and will lead to problems with stale, stagnent and lifeless soil in the long term. Membranes are usefull for helping to establish new planting where there has been previous problems with weeds but should not be in place for more than three years. Use a bark mulch on top, not gravel as when the membrane decays the composting bark willl slowly break down into the soill and regular topping up, I often blend bark and compost for this purpose, will feed the soil and keep it healthy. Always remember your garden soil is as much a living thing as the plants and unless you consider its needs you plants will ultimately suffer.

    James Gardner