I planted 4 100 ft rows of berries this year and am considering strategies for weed control outside of just weed whacking everything. I’ve got…
200 ft of grapes
100 ft of raspberries
100 ft of blueberries
My wife would like to landscape paper but I’m worried about amending the soil, specifically for the blue berries to maintain pH (I’m thinking pine mulch). As in, will the amendments make it to the soil/roots? I’d assume so but I’m a rookie.
For both the blueberries and grapes, I was planning to only mulch around the bushes/vines. I’ve got 6 - 8 ft between each. I suppose I could mulch the whole thing.
Landscape paper also concerns me with the raspberries. Will the new shoots break through?
Anyone have a similar set up with a good strategy? If I can avoid whacking + push mowing once a week, that would be faaaaantastic.
Landscape paper (not fabric - just making sure) should break down after a year or so, allowing new shoots to pop through. During that time, it will smother out the weeds underneath. You should put an organic mulch on top (wood chips, shredded leaves, etc) that will minimize new weeds germinating in the future. It will probably never be weed-free, but it will almost certainly keep them to a manageable level.
As far as your amendments, you can put them down before you add the paper, and they’ll get there just fine. This is all easier to do if you put the paper down before the bushes, but you should be OK still.
Try the paper and mulch. It works at least as well. I’m not a big fan of landscape fabric. It works great the first year, but unless you keep all the soil and mulch off of it, weeds will eventually start growing on top.
In some of the larger area’s I have been using old carpet. So far it has worked better than anything else. Initially it is a little water resistant, but that quickly changes. No mulch. Layers of cardboard has also worked well for me.
Landscape fabric will control the weeds in the rows but you will still have a weed problem along the edge of the landscape fabric you will need to manage. Paper, carpet and wood chips help too but some weeds will manage to penetrate the mulch and over time the weed pressure will increase.
The easiest way to control the weeds is with pre-emergent herbicides. Many are labeled for the crops you are growing but the application rate has to be precise. Too much and you will kill your plants. I believe some organic pre-emergent herbicides exist but I have never used them.
My blueberry and raspberry beds (32 ft ea, 3 ft between plants) are at the edge of my permanent bed garden. Everything is well mulched with hay/pine needles/leaves, whatever I have. That has worked well for me. But you do need to have a clean spot to begin with, and keep those perennial weeds that do grow (and they will) pulled. But the mulch keeps most weeds smothered. But what really helped was several years ago I decided to edge the entire space with inexpensive plain pavers/patio blocks, less than $1 ea at our nearest bigbox hardware. We’d just buy what our car could carry (comfortably about 20) whenever we were in the city, and over some years. Steve (who is much more patient with doing things like this) dug them in around the perimeter, on edge, blocking most of the grass. Wish I’d done this years ago! It made a big difference. So the blueberry and raspberry beds have pavers along one side (the other side is the regular mulched garden). My grapes are by themselves, also mulched, and no pavers yet, which means more grass creeping in. I’ve done the cardboard covered with mulch there which does help. That’s a big dream you have going and I wish you the best with it. Sue