Biodegradable landscaping fabric

coopersita(2b)May 27, 2012


My front yard was a mess: bad grass, weeds, and moss (yes, moss!). So I decided to make it into a garden (probably mostly plants for shade).

I sprayed the area, tilled it, and removed the chunks with green in them, but I'm still afraid I'll be overwhelmed with weeds after I have planted my new shrubs and perennials.

I thought of putting landscaping fabric, but I read that that can keep plants from thriving (nutrients not being absorbed.) So I was wondering if maybe using a biodegradable landscaping fabric would be the solution, placing it under the new top soil I plan to order next week. And later, putting bark on top.

I found this:

What do you think? Have you tried this kind of landscaping fabric?

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deviant-deziner(Oh zone)

We've used biodegradable landscape fabric / paper in both residential and commercial applications and it works extremely well.

For small projects we've collected news paper and cardboard boxes from neighbors and stores.

For larger projects we purchase rolls of cardboard from a paper company. The rolls come in 3 or 4 different widths and thickness of cardboard.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2012 at 4:55PM
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Hmmmm.... that looks exactly like the paper sold at HD and Lowe's for protecting finished floors, counter-tops, etc. It is misleading to be labeling paper as "biodegradeble landscape fabric."

Without knowing much about your project, but based on what you've done and what you propose, I'm inclined to think that you are stumbling through its creation without a solid scheme. Using paper as a biodegradable underlayment to mulch would have some effect in helping to minimize weeds at the beginning... but not UNDER the topsoil you plan to add. The weeds will be coming from nearer the top. Do you need to build up the grade... or should you be just amending the soil instead? (If you haven't physically seen the topsoil you'll be getting, it's possible that it may also need amending unless it's in a bag.)

The idea of suppressing weeds with paper is not new. But usually, people just go get cardboard out of a dumpster for free and placed it under the mulch... again, not at the bottom of the planting. And usually, this process is done well in advance of planting as weed-killing alternative to spraying herbicide. I think it would be difficult to use cardboard or paper as an underlayment to the mulch after or during the installation of plants.... unless it was used only at a wide enough pathway. But it doesn't seem like that's the kind of garden you're creating. Since you have already sprayed and rototilled, I'd forget about using any "fabric" and just be diligent about the weeds using conventional methods: manual pulling, a hoe or VERY careful spraying of Round-up.

Depending on the garden, plants and soil, you may need some soil-amending.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2012 at 5:13PM
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deviant-deziner(Oh zone)

You've got the right idea in placing the bio- degradable cardboard/ paper under your topsoil amendment ( compost ) and mulch.
The process is called sheet mulching and you can slice right thru the paper and plant.
For a practical understanding of the process the Bay Friendly Coalition has a wonderfully informative website that explains the process , how it works and shows photos.

Here is a link that might be useful: sheet mulch planting process

    Bookmark   May 27, 2012 at 7:46PM
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Thanks for the feedback.

I guess what I'll do is put the paper on top of the new soil, and wood chips on top of that. Hopefully, by the time it all degrades, my weeds will be long dead.

Now, I'm wondering... instead of buying a bunch of rolls of fancy organic paper, could I just go to the packaging store and buy a big roll of packing paper? would that be ok? or would I be adding bad chemicals to my soil? Should that be a concern? I don't plan to plant anything edible, though.


    Bookmark   May 28, 2012 at 12:28PM
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You didn't say how big a space you're dealing with. Lots of folks just use collected newpapers as the base layer (or broken down packing boxes that seem to breed over night in garages). Soy inks are pretty much in universal use so you're not putting anything harmful down using 7 or 8 layers of newspaper. A big roll of packing paper is likely pretty neutral also.

Better plan would be to put the barrier (cardboard, newspaper, etc.) down first on top of the tilled up yard, then the ordered load of soil, then the bark.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2012 at 12:47PM
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Oh. Sorry, I guess I should have mentioned the size.

It is about 600 square feet (30x20 feet, divided in 2 sections). So gathering newspapers, and cardboard is probably not doable.

I'm thinking that maybe 2 or 3 layers of packing paper should be ok. Or do you think I need more?

    Bookmark   May 28, 2012 at 2:13PM
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Have you priced rolls of packing paper? In truth, I haven't so I don't know what the cost for covering 600 square feet (bisected by a sidewalk or walkway?) 3 layers thick would be.

If where you live has a few busy liquor stores, they're a great source for free cardboard boxes that can easily be broken down to spread out. They're generally the size holding six 1.75 litre bottles - and storerooms tend to be stacked with empty ones they'd be more than happy to give away.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2012 at 2:53PM
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I checked online, and it's not that expensive. A 36" wide, 900' length is $54. I wouldn't need that much, so I would buy a smaller, cheaper one.

Here is a link that might be useful: Kraft paper by the roll

    Bookmark   May 28, 2012 at 3:14PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

Not that I'm helping, but what I wish they would make biodegradable is that damnable netting they put in sod. It aggravates me no end - it shows at the edges, it makes it awkward to compost leftover sod when you're placing it, and when you go to cover it as I am about to do, you can kill the grass with a covering of some sort (old natural fibre carpet works too), but that netting is still there waiting for the first time you want to plant something. Grr.

Karin L

    Bookmark   May 28, 2012 at 3:21PM
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