En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Advisability of landscape cloth in native gardens

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

Xeric landscaping walls in Mansfield TX
November 15, 2009 - We have two stone, concave 10 ft. high entry walls to our private street. These are each 20 ft. in length and face the west. What xeriscaping accent plants would you recommend. Also, should we crea...
view the full question and answer

Failure to come up of blackeyed susans in Lancaster PA
June 28, 2009 - My blackeyed susans have been blooming for ten years. All of a sudden this year they didn't come up at all..why?
view the full question and answer

Holding bare soil before sowing native grasses in spring.
November 03, 2009 - I want to try your buffalo/bluegrama/curly mesquite. Right now my yard is ploughed. What should I do until spring? I assume I should add living compost to the top 3", plant bluegrass for now, and ...
view the full question and answer

Coreopsis failing to bloom in Sonora CA
August 04, 2009 - My Coreopsis buds form and then die. Very few open. The plants are two and three years old, in a clay type soil. Is it possible they're getting too much water, and that is whats making the buds die ...
view the full question and answer

Black-eyed Susans in potting soil on ground
November 12, 2010 - I would like to know if black eyed susans can be planted in just potting soil instead of mixing it in with dirt from the ground? I don't want to leave it in the pots. I want to plant it, but the grou...
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