Weed Suppression With Ground Cover

I looked around for this topic but so far did not find it. I have used black plastic, landscape fabric and cardboard to suppress weeds prior to planting. Laid out over a good "crop" of weeds the soil turns black and crumbly and has earth worms running through it. The landscape fabric or black plastic can have holes punched in it and be planted through thus eliminating much of the need for weeding. Black plastic also keeps deer at bay - the slippery surface frightens them. While having deer around is a fancy problem you do not want to compete with them in a garden. Question: how much toxicity slips out of cardboard, black plastic, or even landscaping fabric into the soil?



  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,500 admin

    I have wondered that as well. Landscape fabric is just expensive fancy plastic. I think avoiding plastic is a good idea. Cardboard would be the better choice.

    Or instead, you could plant winter rye. It suppresses everything around it so nothing grows...but I am not sure how long that stuff that it gives off stays in the soil. I don't think it is too bad though. Organic farmers use it on a fairly regular basis.

    Clover is popular too.

  • Monek Marie
    Monek Marie Posts: 3,537 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I will not use black landscape fabric. I have seen too many issues with in in landscaping projects. I landscape (natural designs) in the summer months.

    I use cardboard all the time and feel comfortable with it. I know it encourages worms. As far ansd contaminant, I have not worried about it but I would not use cardboard that was dusty or stained. And I stay away form colored cardboard.

    For some reason I have not tried winter cover crops. I seem to have a mental block on this and I am not sure why. I guess maybe seeing how it works for others here locally would answer my questions about cover crops

  • Tave
    Tave Posts: 952 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @flowerpower * Some cardboard has more chemicals in it because of the glue and how they make it sturdy. Unfortunately, we can't avoid all chemicals in a world where the dollar rules. I haven't found studies on how many of those chemicals end up in the garden or our vegetables, but non-recycled cardboard with no ink or lamination is probably safer.

    This video by Tom Bartels is how he keeps the deer out of his garden.

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,980 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Be careful with ground covering materials that won't compost. A previous owner of my property created a flower garden by putting down some kind of plastic and putting a bit of soil on top, planting flowers and shrubs, and adding wood chips. The flowers have done reasonably well, but when I tried to add herbs they did poorly, and I think it's because they can't root through the cover.

    I planted raspberries around the rim of the bed, and had to punch holes through the cover with a shovel to get them into the dirt underneath.

    I'd be happier if they had not used that cover. It's almost impossible to remove it now.

    I use newspapers as a weed and grass cover in the bottom of a new raised bed, covered with good soil. They will be composted and gone pretty quickly in warm weather.