In the quest to control weeds, many gardeners have devised ways to fight against unwanted plants in their yards and gardens. These methods include the use of landscape fabric and plastic around foundation. These weed control methods make the yard unaccommodating for weeds. However, gardeners are confused as to which method is better. They often ask, “landscape fabric or plastic around foundation: which is better?”. This is what we shall address in this article.
How Effective Are These Weed Control Methods?
Landscape fabric and plastic around foundation are useful inorganic mulch methods that control weeds in the garden. These methods also control erosion by holding the soil in its place. They reduce the labor invested in weeding, and also reduce the amount of herbicides that is discharged to the environment. Despite the effectiveness of these methods, they have their downsides. Like every other method, you can’t solely depend on them 100% without some drawbacks.
What Is Landscape Fabric Method?
Landscape fabric is a polyester or polypropylene material that may be woven or pierced with holes to obstruct sunlight and other nutrients like water and air from reaching weed seeds. Sunlight and nutrients help weed seeds to sprout and compete with beneficial plants. Landscape fabric prevents weeds from germinating by forming a barrier above soil to curtail its growth. In addition, this permits air and water to get into the soil to enhance the growth of other beneficial plants.
Landscape fabrics usually comes in rolls, with at least 3 feet wide and about 200 feet maximum in length. Some fabrics come with Ultraviolet protection to prolong its lifespan. Depending on the thickness and brand, you can find the cost of a landscape fabric to be between $0.45 per Sq. Ft to $0.80 per Sq. Ft. Cost of landscape pins sells for about $0.10 per pin.
Pros of Landscape Fabric Mulching
Landscape fabrics are designed to resist environmental degradation, thereby prolonging its lifespan. A properly installed landscape fabric should last for may years, as opposed to plastic around foundation. The durability of landscape fabric makes it suitable for perennial beds and long-term weed eradication.
Landscape fabric allows breathability, which enhances the way oxygen and moisture gets to the plants. Landscape fabrics also allow water from sprinklers or other sources to reach plants’ root for better growth.
Landscape fabrics are environmental friendly. This is because they are mostly made from polyester or polypropylene. They are also biodegradable, which makes it easy to get them disposed.
They limit the need to use chemicals like herbicides to control weeds.
Cons of Landscape Fabric Mulching
Landscape fabrics are very expensive to apply. This is because of they are used extensively on landscape or yards where dip irrigation is absent. Also, to install them, you need pins and may need to patch the fabric. All these further escalates the cost. Not to talk of the time consumed installing the fabric.
It compacts the soil. In order for plants’ roots to truly spread and grow, it needs to stay crumbly and loose. Unfortunately, most soils underneath landscape fabrics does not stay loose. Instead, they become compact, which makes planting difficult.
Re-seeding is practically impossible with landscape fabrics. It’s difficult to see which plants that have re-seeded themselves in your garden after a year with landscape fabrics.
The fabric may contain petroleum and other chemicals that are unhealthy to edible plants. The petroleum and chemicals in these fabrics will mix with the edible plants, thereby becoming toxic.
The use of landscape fabrics acts as deterrents against natural organic mulch like fallen leaves from adding nutrients to the soil. It also prevents earthworms and other burrowers from aerating the soil.
What Is Plastic Around Foundation?
Plastics are nonporous materials that also prevent air, sunlight, and other useful nutrients from penetrating weeds. This type of mulching method traps heat and will effectively smother anything beneath.
Plastics, unlike landscape fabrics are best used in areas where large tree roots and tree plants are absent. In other words, they are suitable for vegetable gardens and annual flower beds.
Pros of Plastic Around Foundation
In terms of permeability, plastics are not as permeable as landscape fabric. This prevents the loss of moisture and exchange of gasses that are beneficial to the plants in the garden. This is very vital in annual vegetable gardens.
Plastics promotes maturation of crop, which leads to greater yields. It helps warm the plants for early planting by warming the soil.
Cons of Plastic Around Foundation
Plastic around foundation tends to breakdown when exposed to direct sunlight or heat. Thus, are not durable. That is why you should only use it short-term or apply it to annual beds.
Plastic mulches breaks down quickly, destroying the decorative layer of mulch. This makes weed suppression a little difficult.
Another downside of plastics is they reduce the oxygen that gets to the roots of trees and other plants. This is because they are impermeable. They trap moisture in the soil and this can cause root plants to rot.
Uses of Landscape Fabrics and Plastic Around Foundation
Apart from controlling weeds around shrubs and grass growth under decks, you can use landscape fabrics and plastic around foundation for;
Preventing and controlling erosion, especially on slopes
Keeping the garden in an orderly manner.
Adds beauty to the garden.
Facilitates the growth of plant by delivering essential nutrients, air, and water to the roots of plants. This is typical of landscape fabrics that are perforated, which allow water and air to pass through.
Landscape Fabric or Plastic Around Foundation: Which is Better?
Using landscape fabric or plastic around foundation depends on a variety of factors. These include; individual preferences, the growing conditions or environmental factors, and the plants to be grown. If you have trees and shrubs and you would want to get rid of weeds around them, landscape fabric is the best method. For annual flower beds and vegetable gardens, plastic is the better choice.
Useful Tips for Using Landscape Fabric Method
If you have come to a conclusion to use landscape fabrics, you need to ensure that you have these useful tips at the back of your mind. This is to ensure the growth of your plant and prolong the lifespan of the landscape material.
Choose quality landscape fabric. Interior designs easily gets destroyed and might not last as long as you want them. One of the things you must consider is the weight and thickness of the fabric. This is a huge determiner of its quality. In order to choose the best landscape fabric, you need to ask a professional gardener to recommend the best landscape fabric. These fabrics are available on retail stores and online stores like Amazon.
Add compost manure and other types of organic matter to the soil before installing landscape fabric. Apparently, you can’t add organic manure after you have installed landscape fabric. So add whatever you want to add before hand. If you are unsure of what to add, take your soil sample to a local extension office and you will be properly guided on what to add.
Weeds may sprout out from the fabric after a while. In order to avoid this, you can apply a pre-emergent herbicide on top of the mulch after applying the fabric. This is to reduce weed seeds from sprouting.
How to Use Landscape Fabrics to Control Weed
In order to install landscape fabric, you will need the following:
Mulch of any type such as wood chips.
After adding your compost manure to the soil, rake the terrain by breaking clumps and hard soils. Ensure the surface is smooth and remove any stones, sharp objects, or anything that could puncture the fabric.
Unroll the fabric, with the rough side down. Extend the edges of the fabric, allowing a minimum of 1- inch overlap. Most fabrics come with borders, so you can tuck them under the main fabric.
Insert your anchor pin every 8 – 10 inches along the edges and every 10 – 12 inches apart in the middle of the fabric to hold the it down. You could end up with a loose fabric after a month of two if you don’t follow these steps of inserting pins.
Cut round holes with a utility knife, large enough to contain your plant.
Cover the fabric with mulches. Mulches also assists in holding down the fabric and aid in moisture retention. You can add as much mulches as possible.
Useful Tips for Using Plastic Around Foundation Method
If you have decided to use the plastic around foundation as your weed control method, you need to have the following tips in mind.
Mulch and other organic matter can fall and decompose on the plastic, instigating the growth of weeds. Since they break down, you need to replace the plastic periodically to eradicate any form of weed growth.
If you must add a new plant to your vegetable garden, cut out a portion of the plastic on the spot where you want to add the new plant. Add the plant and cover the portion with the plastic.
Plastics trap heat underneath, which can suffocate plants during summer. If your plants begins to wilt, it is because the root is not getting enough air. All you need to do is cut some holes in the plastic to expose the root.
How to Use Plastics Around Foundation
Weed is absolutely one of the major problems a gardener face. Thanks to landscape fabrics and plastics, gardeners now have a better option at controlling them, while allowing moisture and nutrients penetrate their crops.
Installing a plastic the right way is vital in ensuring that your plants get the necessary things to help them grow.
What You Need
Dig a trench about 3 inches deep with a shovel or a trowel around the outside of your vegetable garden or annual floor bed.
Use your garden rake to level up the dirt in the garden or flower bed. Remove anything sharp, rocks, or sticks that can cut the plastic.
Lay your drip hose around the plants. Weave the hose in between plants and make sure that it’s close to the stem of each one of them. Connect the other exposed end to a water supply so that water can be distributed to the plants.
Unroll the plastic and lay it flat on the flower bed. Cut the edge appropriately using a utility knife so that it fits into the trench that you dug.
Make a cut down the middle of the plastic from one end. Make an “X” cut on the spot were your plant’s stem will sit. Slide the cut plastic around the spot marked “X”. The cut must fit into the marked spot.
Extend the edges of the plastic and secure it with a plastic staples by pushing them to hold the plastic into the dirt.
Fill the trench with the dirt using a shovel so that the edges of the plastic are covered and secured in place.
Cover the plastic with mulch.
Other Methods of Weed Control
In case you are seeking for other methods of controlling weeds except the landscape fabric and plastic, we have here some methods you should experiment in your garden.
1. The use of salt
Yes! Table salts have other purposes apart from seasoning. Large quantities of it are effective against weeds. All you need is one part of water and three parts of salt. Dilute the salt in the water until dissolved and pour it directly on the weeds. Be careful not to allow it touch your plants because it will equally kill them.
2. The use of vinegars
Vinegar is another potent liquid that can kill off weeds in no time. It’s simple to use as well. Just take an empty spray bottle, fill it with vinegar, and then spray it on the weeds. It’s that simple!
3. The use of bleach
The use of bleach is another method that will get the job of eliminating weeds done. All you have to do is pour undiluted bleach on the weed and they will dry out, leading to their death. Like salts, you need to be careful so that your plants are not affected to.
Weeds can be frustrating and detrimental to the growth of your plants. That is why you need to control it as soon as possible, even before they start to sprout. Landscape fabric and plastic around foundation are two excellent methods you can employ in your yard and garden to get rid of weeds. We have explained the pros and cons of each them and therefore, it’s left for you to decide which one will work best for you.