I was looking for some advice on how best to cover our front garden
which is just beds with a couple of rose bushes. There are no beddin
plants as we don't have time to maintain them really.
I was thinking of just covering the beds with weed control material
and putting down some mulch to cover the area. The garden is flat, an
I was worried about the mulch bark chippings blowing away. Is thi
likely? Alternative is to use something like pebbles or similar.
We don't really mind that much how it looks (it is a rented house an
the landlord is letting us doing it and paying for it), just that it'
Thank you very muc
Your first impulse is the best one here. Lay the weed suppressan
material and then a good thick timber mulch is hard to beat. If you la
it 6" thick it won't be long before it's 4" thick due to the rai
compressing it. The thickness is your defence. It also helps preven
dehydration for the plants you do wish to keep there.
Conversely, if you lay stone down a) its heavier work, b)seeds are mor
likely to spring up through it c) and if weeds do come through it, the
will be that much harder to remove through stone chippings.
In my experience weeds will eventually come through any mulch. But wit
wood chippings for example, when they do eventually surface they will b
much weaker for their effort and easy to remove.
Normally, you should not put new wood chippings down due to an
'toxins' that will leach from the wood and harm your planting. But i
your supply comes from a bag through a garden centre these will hav
already matured sufficiently to be safe
Roses in of themselves require maintenance and are best grown in bare
soil, mulched only during cold weather.
For most other shrubbery pine bark nuggets atop weed block cloth works
well... larger nuggets won't blow away and will last at least five
years... freshen occasionally with a light layer of new nuggets. If
you plant a ground cover it will mature enough to suppress weeds long
before the cloth and nuggets decompose; rug juniper works well.
Pebbles will eventually create a disaster, when the weed block cloth
begins to decay weeds will pop through the pebbles no matter how deep
they're piled... you'll need to remove the pebbles and start over,
much easier said than done. Plus the pebbles will migrate all over
the yard, and they won't decay.... but as a tenant you'll move away
and leave your mess behind, everytime your landlord looks at those
pebbles s/he will curse the day you were born.
Personally, I would like to shoot the person who decided to mulch all
of the garden beds around my house with pebbles. As mentioned, the
weed cloth (if any) has long since stopped doing its job, and every
single weed needs to be pulled by hand -- and we're talking a LOT of
weeds that like that well-mulched soil -- digging my fingers through
several inches of rocks in a (usually futile) attempt to reach far
enough down on the stem to pull the roots.
And don't get me started about what it's like trying to plant
something new in the beds (I know you don't care, but future residents
I'm in the process of removing the stones, and it's one of the most
long-lasting, tedious garden jobs I've ever done. I consider
deliberately adding stones to your flower bed a bad, bad, BAD idea.
Not only did my house have extensive pebble beds, but when I went to
replace some areas of lawn with flower beds I discovered that there had
been even more pebble beds underneath -- someone had merely laid on some
dirt and then seeded grass on top of that! It was too huge a job to dig
out all the pebbles, so I mostly dug holes for new plants, and they've
taken pretty well. From time to time I'll just sit myself down in an
area and excavate the pebbles one by one. It's a very contemplative
activity, really (how's that for a rationalization?) Sometimes I come
upon shreds of landscape cloth at the very bottom. Since I keep adding
compost and mulch, the beds aren't doing badly, even with the rocky
Pine bark nuggets block weeds the best, shaped like large flat stones
they overlap and do an excellent job of blocking weeds, and they're
relatively dense so they don't blow away even in gale winds. And
knowing that everyone's sense of aesthetics varies I still think fresh
pine bark nuggets look a heck of a lot nicer than sheds and chips of
nondescript origin... shreds decay rather rapidly, chips tend to float
away in heavy rains. Pinebark is actually quite impervious to decay
and insects. Shreds and chips are an excellent way to introduce
diseases and insects into a garden; either use totally composted
organic matter (which makes for a terrible weed blocking mulch) or
some type of wood that is naturally averse to decay and insect
infestation... redwood, cypress and pine bark are all good choices.
There are also various grades of weed block cloth... I've tried many
kinds in all different price ranges... the one sold by Leevalley.com
is by far the best value, I get better than 10 years from theirs.
Btw, the proper underlayment for pebbles is polyethylene sheeting, not
cloth. For landscape work polyethylene is available with minute
perforations; permits water and air to pass. But I still don't
recommend pebbles, not unless you're of the trailer trash head set...
crushed white marble makes a wonderful backdrop for plastic pink
flamingos up against your very classy turquoise doublewide [trailer].
I just spent two hours weeding a 3x15' bed that was covered with weed
block fabric and stone mulch. Let me tell you it was miserable work
getting those damned roots out of the fabric. Don't worry about the
mulch chips blowing away, worry about the weed seeds blowing into the
mulch and onto the fabric, germinating, setting roots through the
fabric, and the not being able to get them out.
Leave out the fabric. Put down a good layer of mulch. Plan on
pulling a few weeds - easy enough if done while they're still young,
you can just move the mulch around a bit and it's all done.
Ann, gardening in Zone 6a
South of Boston, Massachusetts
Just a comment. Noticed roses that I've seen usually are more likely
develop some kind of leaf disease/deterioration if mulch is used around it.
Careful with the irrigation if you choose this route.
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