Anyone try Fabric Cloth for Weeds?

harmonypApril 21, 2013

I keep seeing rolls of very fine fabric cloth in the gardening centers that are supposed to help control weeds. Has anyone tried this? Looks tempting, but I was hesitant as I've never heard anyone in this forum talk about it.

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michaelg(7a NC Mts)

You would mulch over it for appearance--then the mulch rots and the resulting compost supports just as many weeds as without the fabric--and the rotted stuff piles up so that the fabric becomes very hard to remove--also the fabric does not allow the rotting mulch to improve the soil--plus it makes it very hard to get fertilizer to the root zone and reduces the absorption of water.

These are some reasons why you do not see it discussed much.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 4:10PM
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seil zone 6b MI

I used that stuff when I first put the little shrubs in by the street. We put down the cloth, cut holes and planted the bushes and covered it with mulch. It looked great. That lasted a total of one season. The mulch washed away, the cloth collected dirt on it and by the next season there were weeds growing on top of the cloth. When we expanded the bed to put roses in we didn't touch that end so the cloth is still there, in shreds, and a mess. I've been little by little trying to pull it out each season.

It may work really well in some places and for some landscaping situations but I don't think a real garden, rose or otherwise, is the place for it. Every time I want to plant something out there I have to cut holes in it to dig a hole to plant so it just becomes cheese cloth after a while. I won't use it ever again.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 4:11PM
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Campanula UK Z8

Mmmmm, I used it to get a grip on the rampant bindweed when I created a gravel garden....and yeah, it did give me a breathing space for a year or two....but ultimately, soil accumulates in the gravel (or mulch) and weeds simply arrive on top of the membrane stuff. As Seil says, eventually, you also end up with a holey (and fraying) mess - even if you don't want to do more planting, the plants grow and the planting holes have to be enlarged....and it can be swinish trying to remove it because grasses will have simply grown through. So yeah, I have it down as one of those learning curve things.....and won't be doing it again. There is actually no short cut apart from the continual daisy grubber (welded to my hand, between March to September). I could think of the occasional time when I would use a membrane - between fruit bushes, maybe, or when establishing a hedge from maiden whips.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 5:09PM
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Maryl zone 7a

For temporary control of weeds I switched to newspaper covered with mulch. It breaks down in a year or so (depending on the rain) and the mulch which has also broken down is then able to add to the tilth of the soil beneath. Leave enough room away from the rose to do your fertilizing.........I had the same experience with the weed barrier product that everyone else has stated hence the switch to something more biodegradable and temporary. Eventually the newspaper was more trouble then it was worth, and I just tried to keep up with weeds.....Maryl

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 5:31PM
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kstrong(10 So Cal)

I do not recommend that stuff. Looks terrible covered in weeds, which is what happens in season two.

Been there, done that . . . .

This post was edited by kstrong on Sun, Apr 21, 13 at 18:14

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 6:13PM
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Mendocino_Rose(z8 N CA.)

You could try newspaper with mulch of some sort on top. It doesn't last forever but it can help to discourage some weeds. Also some places that sell ammendments sell rolls of cardboard. Like everyone said already dirt and whatever accumilates on top of the landscape cloth. It's a pain in the neck. The newspaper or cardboard will rot.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 6:47PM
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Several years ago I heard a landscaper talked about these fabrics & her take on them was to avoid using them as much as possible because they didn't work as well as advertised & they made later work in the bed very difficult. Several years later I decide to renovate some foundation plants put in by the previous owner of my house & he had used this fabric. WOW! was that landscaper ever right, it was a ton of extra dirty & hard work to clean out & replant these beds.

This post was edited by wirosarian on Sun, Apr 21, 13 at 21:16

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 8:18PM
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If you don't have armadillos to tear everything up, layers of newspaper are wonderful. Earthworms love it.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 8:31PM
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I used the weed cloth when I planned out my garden but I ended up not liking it. I think that it has a tendency to cause the soil to compact because the mulch never gets to degrade into it. I would reccomend newspaper because it is biodegradable and will not cause the soil to become cement-like the way the weed cloth did.

I've found the easiest way was to lay down wet newspapers that I had soaked in a basin. The reason for them being wet is so that they won't blow away while you are working. Then just cover with your favorite mulch.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 8:43PM
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jim1961 Zone 6a Central Pa.

Avoid using that landscape fabric...
A layer of newspapers with mulch over top will help...

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 9:03PM
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I totally agree that it just makes things more complicated in the long run.

The landlord here laid down some type of thick black fabric around the front and side of the house, then covered with rive rocks several years ago.

Bad idea. It's a sea of debris, and the weeds are worse than ever. harder to get to, too, since they are in the river rocks and everything is so compacted down. It gets driven on as a parking spot.

The debris really got bad when they cut down the giant tree right above that area. All that sawdust became even more mulch for the weeds!

The only positive point is that the debris is thick enough now that I can grow larkspur by my door in the rocks.

Not what I would choose to have done as it didn't solve any problems, just created new ones. But, I have no business removing all that fabric. It is all sticking up in some spots and looks terrible, lumpy folded and just bad. If he would pay me to do it, I'd have that stuff out in a heartbeat and try and grow some natural groundcover. Anything but the rock covered cloth.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 9:04PM
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jim1961 Zone 6a Central Pa.

Used that fabric under our dogwood bushes years ago..
What a mess! Roots wrapped all through the fabric :(

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 9:06PM
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Just don't.

Everyone here you advises against its use is absolutely correct.

Avoid it like the plague.

I don't want to talk about it any more.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 10:08PM
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Lol....don't hold back, guys.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 11:13PM
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Kippy(SoCal zone 10. Sunset Zone 24)

hmm I used it, but under my gravel walk and it gets a few weeds but not too bad and keeps the gravel over the dirt below. Probably not a long term solution, but working for now

    Bookmark   April 22, 2013 at 12:50AM
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I am SO glad for this forum, and that I asked.

Done deal. I shalt avoid it like the plague!!!


    Bookmark   April 22, 2013 at 1:04AM
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Karl told me to use cardboard and mulch and it worked great. It did not cost anything.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2013 at 8:41AM
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buford(7 NE GA)

The only time to use the fabric is if you are making a path and don't want the gravel or other stone to sink into the soil. I have done this around my air conditioner units. Weeds still come up once in awhile, but not that bad. I had used it in a bed, but the bermuda grass would grow right through it and actual wove itself into the fabric. Never again!

    Bookmark   April 22, 2013 at 9:49AM
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It looks good for the first 5 minutes when the mulch or bark is nice and neat on top. After that, it's awful. Wind, watering, rain, decomposition, animal activity, determined weeds....terrible. Just put down mulch.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2013 at 11:49AM
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Socks, but you need to have something *underneath* the mulch.

I had my complete backyard dug up last summer, and the landscaper used the fabric with mulch on top, which is what *I* asked for. My dog runs thru the yard, so consequently the mulch 'flys' as well as the fabric getting torn. Had I of known cardboard and newspaper were the 'environmentally correct' materials, I would have used it instead. I was also talked out of the crushed stone(instead of mulch)by my landscaper, now wish I hadn't listened to him re: either product, especially the crushed stone since I had used it in a previous home.

I would recommend NOT using fabric landscaping material or mulch under your Rosé bushes~just 2 cents from a novice gardener. ;o)

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 5:35PM
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I'm with everyone else here. I almost lost 3 Mme Antoine Mari's that I'd had for years because over time leaves packed down on top of it and weeds grew on top of it, and heavy rain didn't penetrate it. It's a b**ch to remove, too! Nearly killed me!

If I use that stuff at all now, it's to put in the bottom of flower pots to cover the drain holes.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 9:50PM
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