Weed Barriers in Landscape Beds
To barrier, or not to barrier, that is the question! Weeds can be the most annoying problem when it comes to maintaining landscape beds! One of the biggest questions in regards to controlling weeds in mulched landscape beds is “Should I put down a weed barrier fabric?”. It’s not a simple answer. Depending on your situation, you may find it beneficial, or you may find it to be a pain in the derriere! Let’s look at both the pros and cons from a perspective that comes from many years experience in the field.
Weed Barrer Cons:
Since most people ask for the bad news first, let’s look first at the cons of putting down weed barriers.
- Weed barriers are not 100% effective. If you were to put a number on it, they probably reduce the weed population by about 70-80% on average. You will still have some weeds in your beds to deal with.
- Weed barriers are not effective against Bermuda grass. In a battle of Weed Barrier Vs. Bermuda grass, Bermuda will win every time.
- For long term effectiveness, there is maintenance work that will need to be done. Every time new mulch is to be applied to the bed, the old mulch on top of the weed barrier should be removed first. This can be a lot of work! If the old mulch isn’t removed, over time, the decomposing mulch will create a layer of growing medium in which new weeds will grow above the weed barrier (and often send roots down through the weed barrier). This is often an overlooked aspect of weed barriers and after several years the weed barriers are 0% effective even though they are still down on the ground. This leads us to the 4th con…
- Weed barriers make planting new plants in beds more difficult. This isn’t a big problem if old mulch is always removed before applying new mulch. In this case, all you have to do is rake back the one layer of mulch and cut a whole in the barrier where you intend to plant. But if you continue to add layer after layer of mulch without removing the old mulch, the decomposing mulch on top of the weed barrier begins to build up. In this situation, you actually may wind up with a few inches of mulch/compost/soil on top of the weed barrier. This isn’t that easy to rake back to make a cut in the barrier for planting. And in this situation, you will also most likely have some roots growing through the weed barrier as well. Removing a weed barrier in this situation so you can plant, can be downright frustrating!
Weed Barrier Pros:
- Weed barriers do reduce weed growth in landscape beds. Probably by 70-80% on average.
- Weed barriers are a good way to reduce the use of herbicidal weed control. Less weeds growing means less spraying.
- Weed barriers can reduce time spent maintaining beds during the weed growing season. Less weeds growing means less time spent on weed removal.
- Weed barriers can improve the aesthetics of mulched landscape beds. Even though germinated weeds can be dealt with early on, there may be some aesthetic advantage to not having as many weeds growing in the first place.
Charlotte Weed Barrier Summary:
You may decide to barrier, or not to barrier. But hopefully, the above information equips you to know which option is the best fit for you.
Keep on growing,
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