If you hate weeds as much as we do at our house, you look for any available method to keep them at bay. One of my favorites is the use of weed barrier.
Weed barrier is a thick, woven material. The top side is shiny and usually has yellow lines at 1-foot increments and the bottom side is fuzzy. It is available in 3- to 6-foot and 8-foot widths to accommodate any planting space, and it’s easy to use. Simply measure the area in which you wish to use it, then when you visit the garden center, they should be able to help you determine which width, or combination of sizes will work best for you.
I prefer the professional grade because it lasts many, many years, and I believe that in the long run it’s a better investment, even though it costs a little bit more initially. You will find many options though, some of which are downright poor in quality, and we’ve found that those tend to disintegrate within a year or two. Weed barrier is truly one case of getting what you pay for.
When you get ready to use it, rototill the soil in the area in which you wish to plant then lay your weed barrier over that space. Be sure that the shiny side is up and the fuzzy side is down. Be sure to secure it to the ground using landscape staples because our high winds have been known to take a piece and flip it, taking your plants along with it, especially if it’s early in the season and they aren’t well rooted in yet.
Cut small X’s in the fabric and peel them back where you want to plant. After you have installed your plant, fold the flaps back up to the stem. Many people cut circles in the cloth and plant in that, but you are exposing more soil surface area in which weeds can grow by doing it that way. The whole point is to keep as much of that soil covered by the weed barrier as possible.
There are several reasons why we like this so well and use it in our garden. The first is the obvious- it helps keep the weeds at bay without the use of chemicals. This is especially important if you are planting a vegetable garden and that is exactly where we use it in our yard.
Since the cloth is usually black and attracts heat, another added benefit is that during spring seasons like we’ve had this year when we are all getting a late start due to the weather, it will help to warm the soil up quickly and that will make the plant root in and grow faster. This is especially helpful in protecting your plants if we have a cold night or two.
This permeable cloth keeps the weeds from growing through it while allowing water to penetrate the fabric. Because it is porous, it will also allow the ground below to breathe. One thing you don’t want to do is use plastic in place of weed barrier. Although it will keep the weeds out, it will also serve to bake the soil below it and destroy microbes, earthworms and other beneficials in the dirt. If the appearance bothers you, cover your weed barrier with mulch for an attractive finish in your yard.
Aside from the benefits in your garden, the time it saves me spent weeding in the garden and the pain from an aching back are two of the best reasons I can share for trying this product. It’s a simple solution for the age old problem of how to deal with unwanted weeds!
Gail Vanik can be reached at 970-565-8274 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.