Learn / Ask The Landscape Professional
My neighbor attended one of your recent lectures where you talked about the problems caused by using landscape cloth. Could you go over that again?
Somewhere along the line, it became popular for many people and landscape
companies to use landscape cloth as a so-called "weed barrier".
Not only is that a gardening
myth, but landscape cloth makes for a maintenance
nightmare and does far more harm than
good. Landscape cloth actually inhibits water
from getting to the roots of plants and prevents
groundcovers from spreading. So not only does
landscape cloth slowly kill your plants, when
you apply mulch on top of landscape cloth,
landscape cloth actually keeps the mulch from
decomposing - which is exactly what you don't
want to happen! As far as landscape cloth being
a weed barrier, it turns out that many, if not
most weeds get into your garden through the air.
They blow around the neighborhood and land in your
garden; once there, they grow downward through
the landscape cloth. Once weeds get rooted into
and through the landscape cloth, they are next to
impossible to remove without ripping up the landscape
cloth and making a big mess. It seems everywhere
you look, you see unsightly landscape cloth that is
flapping in the breeze in someone's garden. Bottom
line – don't use landscape cloth. It's a waste of money
and harmful to your garden.
When it comes to weed control, use
2-3" of shredded bark, organic natural (non-dyed) mulch.
Mulch keeps the soil cool, allows moisture to reach the roots of
your plants, decomposes about 1 inch of thickness each year
and adds organic matter to the soil. Weeds that do grow are
easily removed. Refresh your mulch 1" each year to help keep
the weeds down. Never, ever use more than 2-3" of mulch and
don't create "mulch volcanos" with the mulch piled up against
the base of plants and trees.
This practice suffocates and stresses the plant which will
cause it to eventually succumb to disease and to die. Mulch
should not cover the root flare of the tree which is where the
tree widens at the base as it transitions to the roots. In this
case, more mulch is definitely not better!
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About Linda Lillie
Linda K. Lillie is the President of Sprigs & Twigs, Inc, the premier
landscape design and maintenance, tree care, lawn care, stonework, and carpentry
service provider in southeastern Connecticut since 1997. She is a graduate of
Connecticut College in Botany, a Connecticut Master Gardener and a national
award winning landscape designer for her landscape design and landscape installation work.