The other day I wrote up a post about how to use landscape fabric without screwing it up. Previously I’d written about when using landscape fabric is a good idea and when it’s not. Sometimes I try to be fair and balanced on an issue so I don’t sound like some kind of gardening zealot. Today isn’t one of those times.
I think landscape fabric sucks.
There, I said it. I regret using it in nearly every case that I have, and I try my hardest to show my clients why they shouldn’t use it, either. I’m not judging you if you want to try using the stuff – I understand why people want to, and if you’re going to use it, I want to share with you how to use it right. But after 14 years of designing and maintaining gardens professionally, it’s a rare garden where I go – oh yeah, that landscape fabric really worked out well! Here’s why I hate it so:
When I was in horticulture school, the old-skool dudes teaching pest control were all about the chemicals – they just didn’t believe organics could be as effective as the lethal stuff. Yet every so often, a hint of doubt would creep into their voices about safety.
I’d hear, “well, this one’s actually pretty bad” or “ya don’t wanna get too close to this” and “this one’s chemically similar to Agent Orange and I’m not really sure why it’s still legal”.
What?!! “Agent Orange on your lawn” has never been the special Genevieve mojo I wanted to share with my gardening clients!
Why mulching is so over-the-top awesome for your garden:
- A 3” thick layer of mulch will reduce the weeds that come up by 75% or more overnight – it is the single best organic weed control out there. Clients who don’t have mulch are shocked at the difference after we put down a good layer of wood mulch – it smothers the weed seeds that try to sprout from the soil below.
- It helps your soil hold onto moisture so that you needn’t water so often.
- It also keeps your soil from getting so compacted when you step on it to maintain your garden, and keeps hard rains and hot sun from forming a crust on your soil’s surface.
- It keeps plants’ roots cool in summer and warm in winter.
- It helps support the beneficial micro-organisms and worm populations that keep your soil aerated and help change the existing nutrients in your soil into a form your plants can use.
- It can help keep some soil-borne bacterial diseases from harming delicate, over-bred plants like many roses.
- In some cases, mulch can help with erosion control.
One of the biggest barriers to organic gardening success, and I mean that literally, is landscape fabric. Any kind of fabric or plastic that keeps weeds down will also keep fallen leaves or mulch from adding organic matter to your soil, leaving behind a hardened, dead zone where plants struggle to survive.
Now, that’s not to say landscape fabric is never the answer, because it can be very helpful in certain situations, but using it shouldn’t be the default, because it interrupts a number of natural cycles which would usually allow your plants to grow healthy and strong with less help from you. [Read more...]
As a garden coach, I’m often asked if there are any organic ways of getting rid of weeds that actually work. Nobody wants to spray harmful chemicals in their garden. The good news is that there are a lot of organic alternatives. The bad news is, some organic techniques can require an up-front time investment, and organic weed sprays can be pricier than chemical sprays. Still, if you have children or pets, like to walk around barefoot, or simply want to be a good steward of the earth, it’s worth a little extra effort to take care of the weeds in a sustainable way. [Read more...]