While creating garden beds need not be difficult or back breaking, it is important to ensure you do things properly right from the start. This will ensure your garden gets the best start to its life keeping the plants healthy and free from weed competition for as long as possible. So, along with ensuring you remove any existing weeds and enrich the soil, you need to make decisions as to whether or not to use a weed barriers.
Well, okay it’s a trick question, you don’t use weed barrier, or at least not the conventional black fabric sold in many garden centers and landscape depots. I`m sure you`ve seen it, they’ll recommend you lay it down on top of garden beds to discourage weeds, cutting small x`s into it wherever you want a plant and then laying mulch overtop to give a very crisp look.
It’s a very common practice although laying it down will not help your plants. Perennial weeds such as Tufted Vetch (Vicia cracca) will spread out their roots underneath making them impossible to remove and any weed seeds that land on top will still grow. After a few years you have a sheet with weeds all over it and many more underneath if you can pull it up.
Instead when planting, weed your bed, enrich with organic matter and then plant. Add the layer of mulch on top of the soil and forget about adding a weed barrier. It was not made for garden beds; rather it was made for hardscaping. If you add stone or river rock to your bed, use the weed barrier underneath but don`t use it on the gardenbeds
Instead weed your gardens once or twice a week removing any new weed growth. If you have a large garden, tackle it in small pieces doing one section one day and another the next. After a few seasons you should notice that the constant attention has not only kept the garden relatively weed free but it has also led to less of a weed problem overall. With time, you should notice less and less weeds rearing their heads which in turn will lead to less time weeding…and who doesn’t love that!
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