Explore Plants

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 

Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - July 18, 2007

From: Lubbock, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch
Title: Advisability of landscape cloth in native gardens
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

Is the use of landscape cloth healthy or unhealthy in native gardens?

ANSWER:

We are not going to turn up our noses and sniff at those who use landscape cloth in their gardens, but we believe its usefulness is limited. Landscape cloth, also known as landscape fabric or weed barrier, is a porous, woven or spun, man-made material. Most do their intended purpose of inhibiting weed growth in beds covered with the material. In general, they are not particularly unhealthy for native plants. However, there are any number of problems that they are prone to creating.

The first problem is that they don't stop all weeds. Any holes cut in the material to allow penetration of garden plants also allow penetration of weeds. Invariably, weeds take advantage of this opportunity.

Second, some weeds easily penetrate many weed barriers as if there was no barrier there at all. Then it's difficult to remove the weeds because you can't get at the roots. The needle-like leaves of emerging nutsedge (Cyperus spp.) plants are a good example of this.

Most landscape fabrics get clogged with fine dust particles, fertilizer salts and calcium from irrigation water over a period of time. This clogging makes the weed barrier an effective water and air barrier as well. This, of course, is then a serious issue.

Having to stop and cut holes in your landscape fabric every time you want to plant is a hassle. Also, many groundcovers need to be able to put down roots along their stems to spread. Beds with weed cloth in place do not allow for this.

Finally, many gardeners struggle with keeping mulch spread over their landscape cloth. Rain, wind, cats and dogs have a way of moving mulch off of the relatively smooth weed cloth surface leaving it exposed and unsightly. Sloping beds are especially susceptible to this problem.

It seems to us that a native garden should be as much like nature made it as possible. Nature does not utilize landscape fabric.

 

More Compost and Mulch Questions

Shade ground cover under honeysuckle from Wichita KS
February 21, 2012 - Hi! I know this is a bit odd, but I am trying to find a nontoxic, good ground covering plant that can live in the shade while competing with the roots of a whole bunch of honeysuckle. I have a few ide...
view the full question and answer

Proper watering of cedar elm trees in Sachse, TX
August 15, 2008 - I've just planted two Cedar elm trees in clay soil, each about four inches in diameter, and I want to water them correctly. I'm aware that too much water can be bad as well as too little water. I ...
view the full question and answer

Problems with Texas wild olive tree in Tucson
November 15, 2010 - Planted a Texas Olive tree in Tucson, Az. Some of the leaves are kind of yellow. It gets part sun and part shade and is growing. Is this due to too much water, not enough water or does it need somet...
view the full question and answer

Plants for bioswale in Vero Beach FL
September 28, 2009 - Can you recommend plantings for bioswales located in Volusia County area of Florida?
view the full question and answer

Transplanting a Texas redbud sapling
July 27, 2008 - I've just discovered a Texas red bud sapling (baby tree)that decided to grow next to our fire pit. Although there's no reason for us to sit around the campfire in 100 degree weather, I would like to...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.