Now is the critical time to get ahead of your weeds before spring makes them pop. Regular weeding is the key to a weed-free garden. Technological solutions such as landscape fabric can seem like a tempting alternative to spending time pulling weeds. But in my encounters with landscaping fabrics installed around Seattle, these barriers are not the promised solution they claim to be.
For one thing, the notion of laying down a barrier on the ground to prevent weeds from growing up out of the soil might make sense if you yourself went out into your garden and scattered seeds for dandelions, shot weed, and buttercups. But chances are you don’t spend time planting weeds. In fact, the vast majority of weeds growing in your yard arrived as seeds by air from above, not below, the ground—so ground barriers are poor weed stoppers.
Landscaping fabric can also trap organic material, which gives those weed seeds a perfect growing environment. Also, it is very difficult to remove: Organic matter on top and roots below make them a mess when you are ready to move plantings or redesign a garden area. So fabric barriers aren’t going to keep weeds from appearing, though they can keep nutrients from assimilating into the soil.
What I do recommend in terms of weeding is to do it regularly, get all the roots of the weeds, and disturb the soil as little as possible—tilling the soil completely brings more seeds to the surface where they germinate. We also recommend that you follow up with mulching. This is the practice I follow with my clients’ gardens. As far as I’m concerned, it is essential. Mulching before the start of spring greatly slows down weed growth, aids in water retention for the summer, adds nutrients, and lessens soil compaction.
… Check back soon for “Daphnes Are Delightful”