Does weed barrier fabric work?

Does weed barrier fabric or weed barrier cloth work?

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Weed-barrier-fabric In my experience and that of many other horticulturists, weed barrier fabrics, whether brand names such as Ninex or other, and weed barrier cloths do not work and neither does black plastic.

I have seen what happens to weed barrier fabric, or whatever you may wish to call it, over the years, and it is not fun to deal with it then afterwards fro re-landscaping or such.

Such fabric, over time, ends up practically welded to the ground because there were so many weeds growing through the fabric that removing the weed barrier fabric becomes a nightmare of a job.

Weed barrier fabric and black plastic do not work for very long for weed control. You put down the weed barrier fabric or plastic, then over that you put mulch or stone but usually it is mulch or wood chippings. The mulch breaks down over time and eventually becomes the best topsoil you’ve ever seen. Weed seeds blow in, and because you now have topsoil on top of the weed barrier cloth, the weeds grow like crazy, on top of the weed barrier cloth. But they don’t just grow on top of the cloth, the roots actually grow through the cloth into the soil making a huge mess of your planting beds.

The result is that you now have a bed full of weeds, and weed barrier cloth that is trapped between the weeds and the soil. You really can’t use tools to remove the weeds because the weed barrier cloth interferes with your ability to dig into the soil.

Often you won't even be able to remove these materials because they deteriorated to the point that if you pull on them they just break. And you cant then dig the beds for the rest of the material is still below the surface just waiting for you to try and stick a shovel in the ground.

Even if you put stone over the weed barrier fabric you still get weeds. Eventually dust and dirt will find their way between the stones and along come the weeds and you end up with the same situation as with mulch. Only with stone it usually takes a little longer, but it will happen.

There is only one – aside from chemicals – sure fire way of dealing with weeds and that is removing them early enough before they have time to go to seed. And that, more often than not, I am afraid to say, means doing it by hand, literally.

If you are lucky enough and the weather is warm and sunny then you may get away with just hoeing them and leaving them on the surface to die. But if you have the kind of summer that we have had in Britain in 2012 with rain day in day out you have no chance in that department and hand weeding is then the only answer.

© 2012