En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

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
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
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

Lawn Maintenance in Colorado
March 20, 2010 - When do I begin to fertilize and water my grass in Colorado Springs? I am selling my house and want my lawn to look green?
view the full question and answer

How to make a lawn into a prairie in Arlington, Texas
September 15, 2010 - I am removing lawn grasses in order to start a native prairie meadow. After grass removal, I'll put down 1/2" of compost. I will broadcast wildflower seeds on the compost. If I mulch after broadcas...
view the full question and answer

Non-native, invasive creeping fig in Webster TX
May 26, 2013 - We've recently moved into a new home in the southeast Houston area. The back of our property has a long concrete wall (gets quite a bit of sun), which we thought we could cover with a spreading vine....
view the full question and answer

Rain garden for South Austin
March 01, 2010 - I have a TINY yard in south Austin. It is 8'x25', sandwiched between four houses and happens to be at the lowest elevation, so all of the neighbor's yards drain to ours. Originally, we had bermud...
view the full question and answer

Problems with Texas Ash and non-native Bradford Pear in Hutto TX
January 27, 2011 - We have planted two trees in our back yard. The first one(a Bradford Pear) died and the second one (a Texas ash) doesn't look like it's doing very well. Our back yard is mostly black clay about 1 f...
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center