In today’s episode/post, we are going to talk about landscape fabric for weed control. I am going to start to condense the written version on my website a bit more because I think the majority of people listen to the podcast but like to reference the articles. So here are the high points!
There are other benefits to using landscaping fabric, but the main one I like to focus on is saving your time pulling weeds.
Here is the fabric I use.
One of my customers sent an email saying, “Give me some tips and tricks for pulling weeds because my husband is an agronomist, and he just wants to spray everything.” I responded that I found that landscape fabric is what keeps things at bay. While you still have to do a few rounds of pulling weeds, for the most part, it’s still incredibly manageable. You can use this even in a tiny 20×20 garden or if you’re growing for a production of a business.
I’ll first start by telling you that we started using the cheapest plastic fabric we could buy, and while it did the job the first year, it was certainly not worth our investment. It was so thin that it tore easily, and even a windy day could snag it and tear it apart. I found that using a better-quality poly material is the way to go. There are many farmers that have been using the same piece for 10+ years and show very little wear and tear. I’m hoping to continue to use mine for at least that.
To get my holes, it’s important to use a propane torch and burn holes in it where the plants go. If you tear it or cut it, it can unravel and create an enormous mess. The pieces can get caught in your lawnmower blade.
Soil temp: It heats up the soil. A lot of cut flowers like basil, sunflowers, lisanthus, celosia, and zinnias all thrive in heat.
Moisture retention: It keeps your soil moist, meaning you don’t have to water as often because the wind isn’t drying out your soil.
Looks: It just looks neat and clean.
Spacing: The fabric I buy has 12” lines on it for spacing, perfectly spacing the plants apart. I use this as a guide if I’m creating anywhere from 6” to 12” holes, and it’s easy to keep all of the plants perfectly even.
Soil preservation: It helps prevent erosion by keeping the wind and rain from washing it away and disturbing it from early spring to late fall. You can add compost and leaves on top for winter or grow a cover crop if need be. Since we have so much snow here every winter, it’s really not as necessary for us on our farm.
The brand I use is called Dewitt. I have bought 3’ and 6’ in the past, and I love the 6’ because it gives a foot of fabric on either side of the plant if I do the middle 5’. I purchase in 300-foot-long rows. Once you are able to get them all the same length, it does make things easier in the future.
I do place my drip irritation underneath the fabric because it helps it better soak into the ground, and it makes fall cleanup easier. I can simply go over it with a brush mower and not worry about damaging the irrigation lines. If you do use irrigation, it’s important not to burn the holes on top of the irrigation because, obviously, you’re going to burn through that.
When it comes to spacing, I usually go with 9” spacing for most plants. Anything that does well with less than 6” spacing (lisanthus, sunflowers), I skip the fabric altogether. I also don’t use it for dahlias because it seems to just rip up in the fall when I try to remove them. They provide such a large canopy once established that the weeds barely pop up starting in July anyway.
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