flowerbed mulching help pls

Page 1 of 2  
Hi all I am new to this gardening thing. I have a empty dirt flower bed in front of my house beside the front steps. I am going to plant a few annuals , a few perennials, and a few shrubs. I want to use the wood nuggets and black fabric. don't want to be weeding all the time. Question is.............Do I just lay fabric down and dump and spread mulch around? I cut fabric out for the plants. But was wondering how plantings can get water when mulch is covering the fabric. These are the big wood nuggets. Any help would be greatly appreciated because I don't want this to fail on me. Time and effort and money is too much. Thanks in advance. Will eagerly await your replies.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Ninip wrote:

steps.
shrubs.
weeding
mulch
plantings
wood
this to

Landscaping fabric is porous, so the water should penetrate. (Sheets of plastic that don't allow water penetration would be used to kill everything under them by solarization.)
If you haven't done a good job of removing the perennial weeds under the fabric, you're still going to be weeding all the time. They'll come through the seams, and the holes you cut out for the plants, and eventually the strong ones will work through the fabric which weakens over time.
As for the nuggets, you're going to find that you can't lay them on thick enough to hide the fabric underneath, and you'll need to replace them at least every year. They won't help one bit in keeping weeds down, either. But as they break down, and leaves and other organic material falls in them, you're going to get weeds growing on top of the fabric, and their roots are going to further compromise the fabric -- especially when you pull those weeds out.
If the area you're looking at planting only has a few weeds now, get rid of them now, and go from there. If it has a lot of weeds, I would say forget about planting this summer. Remove what you can. Scalp the rest. Then put down overlapping newspaper, 8 layers thick (in other words, a layer of 4 sheets, with another layer of 4 sheets with no matching seams). Cover with two inches of compost or a good soil with a nice organic content. An inch of shredded bark mulch on top of that will keep it from washing away.
By fall you should be able to get in there with a trowel or mattock, and plant any bulbs, perennials or shrubs that are appropriate for fall planting. Do the remaining planting in spring. If you really like the look of the nuggets, put them down in spring over what's left of the shredded bark that kept the soil from eroding. You'll need fewer nuggets because you won't need to completely hid the shredded bark under them.
You'll still have to do some weeding, but no more than you would if you had used the fabric. And most of the weeds will be shallow rooted in the soil on top of the newspaper, and will come out with little effort. Eventually the newspaper will decompose. The weed roots and seeds under the newspaper will have died and decomposed, too (assuming that you didn't just lay the newspaper on top of a bumper crop of weeds without first pulling and mowing.)
Following this method will cost less than putting down expensive fabric, and trying to keep it covered. As for time, if it's a small area, there isn't any difference. For a larger area, laying down the newspaper is a little slower than rolling-out fabric. (Cover it with the compost or soil as you go so it doesn't blow away.) But compared to how much time and money you'd spend to keep the fabric from showing through your nuggets, it's still a pretty good trade-off.
BTW... Dirt is the crud that covers things that aren't clean. Soil is what plants grow in.
--
Warren H.

==========
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I concur on all points. I hesitantly used the fabric on one bed a couple of yrs. ago and have regretted it ever since. It's not that easy to work with to start off and doesn't do that great of a job keeping out weeds. Nut sedge comes right thru it.
Weed seeds blowing through the air or deposited by birds will come right up also. I did part of the same bed with only about 4 layers of newspaper and it's performed at least as well, if not better than the fabric.
I also concur on the bark nuggets. It take a lot of them to get a decent enough depth to deter weeds. I'm going with shredded cedar next time around.
Tyler
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I use the newspaper method as well but I plant reight through it lol. It works for me, doesn't mean it would work for someone else though because I know you should wait 6-8 weeks to plant into the newspaper. I used cedar mulch this growing season only because this is a new house for me and I didn't have any leaves from fall to shred up for my beds here... This fall I will shred all my leaves and mulch the beds. At the old place my soil was rich with tons and tons of worms. With the leaves I'll be able to set my beds up for next growing season. I might add neighbors are very good about sharing their leaves if you ask nicely lol. Colleen Zone 5 CT
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
That was an excellent reply- Worth Saving for reference! thanks!! By the way- (Warren H!) what are your opinions on raised beds in boxes- Did you ever write on how to and what not to do? Can you post it please?

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I wonder what kind of crazy weeds you have growing where you live. At any rate, if you have such pernicious perennial weeds, you'd be best to dispatch them before you lay down anything on top, as if landscape fabric will not block them, newspaper certainly won't.

I don't know if this true or not as my installation is under the recommended coverage depth of 3-4". I don't mind having bits of black fabric peek through. Certainly the wind can blow the nuggets out of the flower bed, I normally just fing them back prior mowing the lawn, but even without doing so, the loss rate is hardly burdensome.

They are numerous university web pages that say mulches in general and pine bark nuggets in particular are good for weed suppression. They do not say if there is anything intrinsicly advantageous about pine bark though. Landscape fabric installation instructions come with the advisement to use a layer of mulch for UV protection of the fabric. There are rumored to be some (newer?) carbon-black coated fabrics that do not need additional protection. I certainly have not noticed any visible degradation in currently exposed bits of fabric of my 2-3 year old bed (which did come with the coverage advisement).

If the rate of your debris deposition is such that you are developing a weed supporting layer of humus in a short time frame, then you should forget about using landscape fabric and think about selling topsoil.
The last few weeds I picked off from my landscape fabric were growing directly on the fabric with no soil to be remembered around them. If there was any compromising of the fabric it was not immediately noticeable. I had not bothered to weed the bed for 3 months or so, and the 3-4(?) weeds I had found were about hand sized. They also were easily picked off with a hand. I think they were all broadleaf. One or more may have been a thistle, it was spiny and very juicy, but I'm not really familar with thistle characteristics. As I was unwilling to look for a glove at the time, I picked it off quite easily with my bare hand.

Or you could buy some glass, lay it on top and kill everything. Build a greenhouse when you are done.


I don't know what you guys did with your fabric that makes you say that. My flower bed was over run with all sorts of growth. I just laid the landscape fabric on top then about 2" or less of large pine nuggets. Nothing grew from below (aside from the chive things mentioned before) and anything that grows on top is picked off by hand whenever I feel like doing so.

If you believe the propaganda from the Scotts company, this is certainly not true of dandelion roots. If I recall correctly, there have been instances of weeds growing from seeds after being dormant for 15 years or more. If you're thinking that there's something that newspaper will kill that landscape fabric will not, you are mistaken.


Landscape fabric is hardly expensive at 3'x50' for $10. If you get minimum wage and save 5 hours weeding, it pays for itself in labor savings*. It certainly is less expensive than periodic applications of herbicide. The DuPont landscape fabric package I have is guaranteed for 15 years when covered with at least 2" of mulch. The Weedblocker brand package has an 'absolute' guarantee. If you had such a bad experience and paid an exorbitant amount, perhaps you should try to get your money back.
* Contingent on proper installation and not having crazy weeds

Buying a 2 cu. ft. bag of pine bark nuggets every 2+ years or so is hardly what I would call burdensome or expensive.

Also know as 'dorm rug' and unless you are an epiphyte.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Heh. I wish. The only place that I'm using landscape fabric is under a gravel walk - and I'm still getting weeds [granted not in vast numbers, but some] through the fabric and 3-4" of gravel. Life is persistent.

What zone are you in, and what are you growing? I've had weeds grow up through/on top of landscape fabric in zones 6,7, and 11, in very different environments.

Landscape fabric is a right pain to pull back out again though. It's all very well if you don't expect to change what you've got planted, or the shape of your beds - but if you're moving plants around, or changing the shape of your beds, you've now got an annoying artificial fibre tangled through your perennials and being a royal pain to remove.
Newspaper is cheap - but more to the point, it's also biodegradeable, and comes apart nicely if you start to move things around. You also don't need to worry about ground stables, or what to do about the holes left behind after you rearrange plants.

Heh. Your garden area is clearly much, much smaller than mine ;> I think I'm in the 7 cu yd of mulch realm by now - and I've added another 6 cu ft of mulch to the small [10x6 triangle] bed in the front to top up the mulch that's settled over the winter.
At any rate, I'd certainly agree that there are uses for landscape fabric - but in my case, it's only for areas that I expect to remain unchanging for years - paths and the like.
cheers!
--
==========================================================================
"A cat spends her life conflicted between a deep, passionate and profound
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@iguana.reptiles.org (Cat) wrote in wrote:

Are they are shoots from adjacent plants or wind blown seeds? I also get rye encroachment from the lawn in one bed, but they are harassed by a weed whacker and pulled if they make it past the brick edging. Never had the rye grow up from under the fabric though.

I don't know what zone. I just look at the little map on the seed packets, I'm right at a line in SE Virginia. When the weeds grew on top, weren't they easily picked off?
I've got a couple of rose bushes. Sedums, chrysanthemums, coleus (dead) the rest I might be able to identify if I saw the names. I did not pick out most of the plants, but I do remember buying a dianthus whatever that is.

I don't know, I've seen feeder roots stapling the fabric to ground. I didn't think it was all that hard to pull off, and if needed I think I could have severed them easily from below with a broad knife. Other parts of the fabric I looked at recently don't have the feeder roots and comes off easily. I don't use the landscape fabric pegs, the mulch and edging seems to hold it down well enough.

Well sure if you are planting a bunch of annuals maybe fabric isn't such a good idea. The thing I don't like about laying newspaper is it is like Tara, Gone With The Wind. I tried it for killing grass, I guess it works okay. But I really like the fact that landscape fabric doesn't decay and I don't have soil and mulch all mixed in together. It makes moving the mulch around easier. Sure it's a little clumsy if you want to move a hole, but if you just make X slits in the fabric, you can just close the X back up and still get most of the protection without needing to patch it with another piece.

Ha, you just got a big ole flower garden don't you? Mine it's just a couple of flower beds in front of the house, each probably 4'x25'. I think I may have used between 1 and 2 cu. yards total mulch.


Same to you :-)
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

All of the above actually ;> I get a ton of maple seedlings, some adjacent plants, and some hardy creatures around the edges, out of the garden. I don't get grass though ;> Don't have any of that ;>

Here's a regional zone map:
    http://www.usna.usda.gov/Hardzone/hzm-ne1.html
If you're in SE Virginia, you're probably in 7b more-or-less ;>
As far as the weeds go, I can't say that I noticed any major difference between removing weeds from the garden mulch, and removing weeds from the garden path, with the landscape fabric. If you get to them early enough, they're almost always removeable ;>

Dianthus is the family that carnations come from ;> I haven't grown them myself since watching 'Jeanne de Florette' - it's an amazing movie, [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0091288 /] but it's created odd personal references for me ;> They are lovely flowers though ;>

*blink*
Personally I prefer to not chop the roots off of my plants unless it's absolutely necessary - or am I misunderstanding you?
I'm glad that your mulch holds the fabric down though - it's such a pain trying to chase your fabric down the street ;> I had a rather dismal experience trying to sort out landscape fabric in the wind - it made me think I was heading to Oz ;>

Heh. I just put mulch on top of the newspaper - problem solved ;>
As far as I'm concerned, having my mulch decay into the soil, and being able to regularly enrich my soil with compost or manure is also a big plus. I'd much rather use natural fertilizers than cupfuls of the purchased chemicals ;>

Huh. We must clearly mulch rather differently. I usually have a layer that's between 3 and 4 inches deep, but my math says that you couldn't be putting much more than an inch down.
I'm using shreaded wood these days - since I've got a [mostly] shade garden, I'm not growing anything edible, and I'm getting my mulch from the city [basically you show up with bags and a shovel, and take as much as you want]. It's been working out nicely ;>
Vanity does inspire me to use commercial pine mix on the front garden though, just to have everything match ;>
... but wandering back to the mulch - with that thin of a layer, you'd have to end up using landscape fabric [or something] underneath to prevent weeds.
Ah well. Different folks, different gardening I suppose.
I should probably turn this into a totally different post, but has anybody had much experience moving the black plastic composters around while they were [presumably] active, without making a major mess?
For reasons that totally and completely escape me, the previous owner of the house put the compost right beside the deck ;> Hmmm. Now that I think about it, she smoked like a chimney, so she probably couldn't smell it ;>
That explains [some of] it ;>
cheers!
--
==========================================================================
"A cat spends her life conflicted between a deep, passionate and profound
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Cat wrote:

anybody
of
think
;>
If you're talking about a bottomless bin, the only practical way of moving it is to pull it up off the pile inside, move it, and then shovel and wheelbarrow the contents to the new location, and reload it.
But if your compost bin has an odor, something is wrong. Either there's not enough carbon material, and the nitrogen rich material is rotting, and/or it's not being aerated enough. Perhaps it's become too compact because of too much moisture. A wet, sloppy pile of kitchen waste is going to smell for all these reasons.
So the act of taking off the plastic bin, and moving the pile is going to help with your smell problem.
--
Warren H.

==========
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

*sigh* I am, unfortunately. Ah well ;>

I suspect all of the above - I've frankly been ignoring it, and I'm entirely sure what's in it now.

Heh. Yup. Messy, but worth it in the end, I hope...
cheers!
--
==========================================================================
"A cat spends her life conflicted between a deep, passionate and profound
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@iguana.reptiles.org (Cat) wrote in wrote:

You're talking about the helicopter things right? I get those too, but this year it was mostly in the spring. There was a hurricane that came through last year, and I'm not sure the maples have recovered (in case they normally drop in the fall). I have a feeling that the wimpy ones just die on their own, and by the time I get around to it, only the really stubborn ones are left and they are no match for the Salty Thumb of Death.

Thanks, I don't know if I want to bother though. You've got your USDA zones and then you've got your Sunset Western zones and then you've got your global warming.

I'll keep a look out for it, not that je pourrai comprendre (pas?). I'd also be a little more interested if it is actually Jeanne and not Jean. 8-D

okay, first of all, as a wise woman (hi Nathalie) once said (paraphrasing): Men are like elephants in the garden. I was thinking more if you wanted to get rid of the landscape fabric (and the plants around it), you could just cut the roots. I don't know where the feeder roots were coming from, I just conveniently thought they were from the plants I covered up and didn't want anyway. But I guess if you were going lift the fabric up to stuff some compost or something down there, you'd have to find another way. I don't know if it's a problem, because I sure don't see the roots everywhere.

oh, come on, it can't be any worse than newspaper as far as blowing away goes.

My flower bed is like the tough side of town. They ain't get no compost, they ain't get no fertilizer, they ain't get no water, they ain't get no nothing. I figure most of the stuff they sell in garden centers are pretty robust and will grow like weeds if you feed them, so I don't.

You are probably right about my depth. I figure one nugget is close enough to 1" thick. So I spread them out like that. If I saw any black fabric, I added more. Then I distributed the leftovers more or less uniformly.

haha, yes I know about vanity, too <embarassed>

Well, yeah. I figured I'd spend less with the fabric and a thin layer and occasional replenishment for wind loss than I would without the fabric and repeated additions of mulch due to decay and wind loss or newspaper + decay and wind loss. Plus I really don't like digging to plant something and turning up mud covered nuggets onto the surface, in which case I would feel obligated to hose the nugget off, only to make more mud. Plus plus I think it helps keep the slug population low ... if they want to live in Nuggetville, they'll take the long way out of town for vacations.

I don't actually remember doing it, but I think if it's not ready, it'll clump together (depending on what's inside) and you then can shovel or fork it in a wheelbarrow and move it to another location (or just leave it in the wheelbarrow until it's ready). This is with one of those semi- conical Earth Machines. Oh yeah, my pile wasn't so big, though. After being packed with leaves it got down to less than 1 foot.

Compost isn't supposed to smell bad. But having the bin nearby makes it convenient, but then you have a little ecosystem nearby.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Yup. Maple Keys is what they get called around here ;> If I left mine alone, I'd have a forest instead of a garden ;> We've got some huge trees here ;>

Heh. I find that it's worthwhile to me - but I do like to try and grow unusual plants, and it sucks to pay $30+ on a plant that promptly dies on you ;>

It's Jeanne ;> Jean would be a different gender ;>

Ahhh ;> Heh. I was thinking "get rid of the landscape fabric, leave the plants ;>

Damp newspaper's pretty good about staying in place ;> Damp landscape fabric just covers me in droplets ;.

Ahhh. Totally different ways of gardening then ;> I think of myself as a pretty lazy gardener - but I do water and mulch my plants - helps them to grow better imho.

Heh. Fair 'nuf ;> Different methods *grin*

It's on my list for today [once I get over the ants, that is]

I know ;> It's been pretty badly neglected though - and tends to *sigh*
My preferred way to deal with the compost involves having a small bucket inside that I empty as it fills up, rather than rushing outside all the time. Much less annoying ;> In garden, of course, it doesn't matter how close the composter is to the back door ;>
cheers!
--
==========================================================================
"A cat spends her life conflicted between a deep, passionate and profound
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@iguana.reptiles.org (Cat) wrote in

Judging from your ant picture you've got much more of a maple problem than me. I've got one or two right next to the house, but they are only 5 (or so) years old. But I'm not finding tons of half rotted seeds at this time of year.

Yes, hence my variable interest. The link you gave is for "Jean de Florette", staring Gewaaad Deparrdooo, whom I do not think would look very good in a sun dress. Or is it one of those "The Crying Game" things?

I will throw them a bone if they look droopy, but for the flowers at least, I let Mother Nature do her thing.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Heh. The healthy one in the back is about 14 1/2 feet around - the less healthy one is probably only about 8-or-so feet around ;> I have seeds -everywhere- The fall is... well - everything falls ;> I need to find a nice compact leaf shredder this year.

Hrm. No - maybe I've got it confused with the sequel, 'Manon de Source'. Either way - they're both good films, and there's good scenery of several sort ;>

Heh. Fair 'nuf ;>
cheers!
--
==========================================================================
"A cat spends her life conflicted between a deep, passionate and profound
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Salty Thumb wrote:

Personally, most of the time I'd find the green of the weeds to be more atractive than bare, black fabric.

a
I use shreded bark mulch because it takes fewer bags to fully cover the same surface area than nuggets. I can completely hide my newspaper with less than an inch of shreaded. It would take at least 4 inches with the nuggets. I know this because I started with nuggets in my first bed, and quickly realized how much I'd need. (And the nuggets are usually 25 to 50 cents a bag more than the shreded.)
It doesn't take much to create a medium that weeds will grow in, and their roots are going to work downward in search of more water. No topsoil production is involved. I'll concede that if I went with 4" of nuggets, there'd be far less of that, but many of my lower-growing perenials, and all of my annuals deal with an inch of shreded mulch than they would 4" of nuggets.

How big of an area are we talking about? A mere 25 sq. ft., maybe? A much bigger area than that, and I'd have to start thinking you're exagerating.

of
for
brand
money
Okay. I'll give you that it's not very expensive. And that's exactly why I don't try to get my money back. It's not worth the effort.

Assuming that you're only replacing 1" with that bag, it only covers 25 sq. ft., which is consistant with your comments about the number of weeds you found. For an area that small, no, you're not going to have much of a savings in time or money by using the method I outlined. However, as one gets closer and closer to the bed space of a typical suburban home, the differences in time, money, and effectiveness become more apparent.
But then again if you don't mind the black fabric showing, then your method may be less expensive. But I'm guessing that most people don't find landscaping fabric to be very attractive.
--
Warren H.

==========
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

You probably could get away with growing a groundcover. I don't have the competence or the commitment to do that yet.

I don't like shreded because I have a feeling they decay quicker. I also don't like the look.

Yeah that's probably a big problem and one reason I why I don't use the full 4".

I think 2 4x25" beds, so 200 sq. ft. I'm pretty sure I used just under two 3'x50' rolls total but had overlaped the seams. Exagerrating about what? The size of the weeds or length of time between weeding? The size is no joke. The time was a guess, but should be pretty accurate. It's not something I keep track of.

What effort, just write a letter and send in a receipt. If you don't want the money, give it to charity. There's no sense in letting a company profit from a crappy product.

My nugget loss in nothing like you experienced. I figure a bag every few years is enough. I throw strays back especially if it's a particularly large nugget, but it's not like that's a lot. You're saying laying newspaper, then mulch, not repeating after the newpaper decays + weeding better feed weeds is less effort than laying down landscape fabric and mulch once? You might as well skip the newpaper and solarize the soil.

Personally I find it more attractive than weeds, but I guess that's where we differ.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Hi Warren, we are on the same boat now. <G>
I believe you can write better English than me, and will take this as easier task than me. <BG>
Cheers, Wong
-- Latitude: 06.10N Longitude: 102.17E Altitude: 5m
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I'm so guilty of that faux pas lol. How's this.... My yard is currently dirt but with lots of love and organic material one day it will be soil. The previous owners were addicted to chemlawn I swear. My backyard died off which I expected it to without it's fix of chemicals, I'm not too worried about it because ASAP the whole area will be replaced with plants. Colleen Zone 5 CT
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

steps.
mulch
to
I would forget about the landscape fabric. It will be in your way every time you need to plant annuals or dig and divide the perennials. No matter what you do, it will somehow make its way to the surface and give you bed a ratty look. Eventually you will cut it out and throw it away. I would also forget the nuggets. Even if they didn't look hideous and provide little benefit to the plants, they will float away with every heavy rain. The idiot who lived in my house before me used pine nugget mulch. It's something that you never completely get rid of, like herpes. The stuff spilled out of the bed when it rained and weeds, especially tree seeds, happily germinated in the stuff. I would get some shredded mulch and put down about a two inch blanket.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.