The idea behind landscape fabric is to provide a barrier against weeds and to protect your precious topsoil. In effect, the most natural way to keep your topsoil intact is to allow weed coverage. But if you intend planting an area out in the future the last thing you want to do is weed an area twice – or more.
Weed barriers come in all types and sizes. From the cheap and organic, that can eventually be turned back into your garden beds, to the more expensive landscape fabrics that can keep an area weed-free for years. It truly depends on which weed barrier option you require for any particular job.
So here are a list of weed barrier options to try in your garden.
Cardboard or Newspaper
Layers of cardboard or old newspaper provide a great organic option for reducing weeds. For newspaper it’s best to lay 5-10 sheets on top of each other directly onto your bare soil, pre-moistened so they sit flat, and then cover with a layer of sawdust or pea straw. The same can be done with cardboard but a single layer should suffice.
After 12 months or so, the cardboard or newspaper – along with the sawdust or straw – should have broken down enough to allow being dug back into the soil. This provides more nutrients and texture to your soil even after it’s performed its job of controlling weeds.
If you’re renovating your home, or have access to quantities of old carpet from your local flooring store, then this option is a very cheap solution to providing a weed barrier. It may not look pretty – especially if your remnants are different styles of carpet – but this can easily be hidden the same way as the newspaper/cardboard idea.
Alas, it’s not the most organic option as you can’t dig the carpet back into the soil – unless they’re wool or hessian based – and you must choose carpets that haven’t been glued down with adhesives.
One benefit of carpet is that you can actually place it directly on top of weeds rather than pulling them up before you lay a landscape fabric.
Barring the first two choices there are a myriad of inexpensive landscape fabric options that are easy to source. One such option is this Dewitt Weed Barrier Fabric. It’s a woven polypropylene fabric that conserves moisture and prevents seed germination. These are very common in commercial landscape operations.
These are a great option for most smaller gardens because of the size of the rolls and how easy they are to lay.
For landscapes that have garden rows that aren’t wide Pro Weed Mat is a great option to lay between them. While it is still a barrier to weed control, weed mats can be used specifically in areas where they are needed rather than as a “blanket” type approach.
Commercial operations tend to use landscape fabric as their source of weed barrier. This is also helpful for larger gardens that have areas beyond the norm. The benefits of Preen Commercial Landscape Fabric, as one example, are the colour choices available. These can tie in with your garden colour scheme or be subdued enough to blend in with the natural look of your garden – and don’t forget the anchor pins.
Certainly the colour of your landscape fabric is not the most important attribute but, honestly, most of these products have similar characteristics and price determines the strength and size options.
So, if you’re wanting to save dollars and get an effective product trial small areas within you garden first. A landscape fabric is only as good as its application and what works in one garden doesn’t necessarily work in another.
Photo source: John Loo