Using landscape fabric for annual veggies

I have a roll of mid grade landscape fabric in the garage leftover from a paver installation project.

I’m debating using it around tomatoes and maybe even for beans and corn (with slits cut for the seeds).

I’ve never been a fan of it, but I am reached my wits end with weeds. Absolutely nothing seems to work.

Straw mulch always grows a wheat garden.

I can’t seem to come up with enough grass clippings and shredded leaves/garden waste to actually cover much of anything

Hand weeding quickly becomes like trying to bail out the titanic with a 5 gallon bucket.

Trying to be very careful with round up always ends up damaging good plants.

I’ve even tried using Preen since it’s an easily obtainable pre-emergent, and even that only works so-so.

I am not opposed to other herbicides, but I’m not really keen on spending $363 for a bottle of commercial grade herbicide which will last until my great-great grandchildren are 100.

So that comes down to weed barrier fabric/landscape fabric.

My main concern with using it is hurting the biology of the soil, and the fact that even though rainwater is supposed to penetrate it, it seems like it penetrates a lot slower than the actual percolation rate of my soil, so it’s a lot harder to get moisture to the plants.

I do have to wonder if using it for only 90 to 120 days out of a single season, and then removing it, will mitigate some of the concerns with long-term use and soil biology.

Any thoughts?

I use it like that and it is fine. I like it around the plants that vine on the ground like cucumbers and melons, they can be hard to weed. I make sure to have good fertile soil underneath, watering is not an issue, it is slower and pools but then a hard rain doesn’t wash gullies in my soil either, there are two sides to think about.

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I wouldn’t hesitate to use it. And I’d give cardboard mulch a chance, too. I don’t think it’s going to hurt the soil biology because it just doesn’t break down very fast.

As for watering I think that while it does slow down penetration, it also slows evaporative loss.

Good luck with it - I think you’ll like it.

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im not a fan of using so much plastic in the garden. But must admit i use it for my strawberry’s. And for multy year planting. i did use some extra leave-litter and manure before placing the fabric to feed the soil life for a while.

I have not experianced rain penetration problems. But would not lay it on a hill. small dents etc don’t matter that much since the soil redistributes the water a little.

It’s inportant to heat the knife your cutting the plastic whith otherwise it will become undone. And you’ll gets strings of plastic blowing all over your garden.

Id also only use better quality/uv stable versions. Seen the budget version disintigrate in 1 season in some-one else his garden.

you could also wonder how much the herbicides hurt your soil life.

I am experimenting with oak leaf mulch a bit. Seems to brake down slower. And it’s supposed to inhibit seed germinating. But not hurt larger plants much. So it might keep the weeds at bay by both smothering and chemical inhibition.

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I tested a piece of it. Water runs through like a sieve. So that’s positive.

Landscape fabric can increase soil temperature. I have heard that upside-down carpet works well, but I have not tried it.

That helps now. In July, not so much.

I guess the permeability is the real issue. If it where agrucutlarl fabric it wouldnt be an issue.

In the fall you try buckwheat or chrisom clover as cover crops

I don’t, wouldn’t, and never will. On the question of fabric.

In my experience, successful fight with weeds always includes to stop them from seeding for 1-3 years. What ever you do for that is good. You can use landscape fabric. Straw is fine as well. It is very easy to pull the wheat when it is about 6-8 inches tall and drop it in place. First couple years it will require some work, but if you successfully stop seeding, you will win. It is also VERY important to continue to maintain “no seeding” patrol after you crop is picked or overgrown the danger of competition. Even in early winter the weeds still grow and seed. I sometimes just cover empty beds with cardboard or landscaping fabric and all my paths are covered with woodchips on top of heavy duty landscaping fabric. I still get weeds because I use horse manure compost, but they really easy to clean up. I add compost in fall, so they have a chance to germinate and freeze. I planted my onions out on April 3, and I do not need to weed yet.
One more thing that helps me a lot is shredded leaves mulch. The garlic covered with that mulch in fall still doesn’t need any weeding. I shred a large pile every year and use them on every single bed and also on the trunk circles under the trees. The rest is covered with wood chips. Also you can start paying attention what weeds you get most and concentrate on it. For me at some point it was crab crass. So I spend 2 years eliminating just this one weed. Then it was wood sorrels. Spent another 2 years killing them. And so on. It is constant battle, but you can make it almost weed free.

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Try to find a better source for straw. I used to have the same issue but once we switched over to someone else it eliminated 90% of the wheat seeds. I guess newer equipment is just better at getting it cut cleanly. We use exclusively wheat straw in our garden.

I use landscape fabric in my veggie garden but I don’t like it, I’m just too far in to go back lol. I grow all in grow bags to avoid juglone poisoning of the soil and I place the landscape fabric under and around the grow bags. I don’t have anything covering the fabric so shade friendly weeds will grow under them making them like giant pillows to walk on. The only fabric I know of that works well without a covering of stone or mulch or something is Dewitt sunbelt, but even that isn’t perfect. If I had to do it over again I would do cardboard or layers of heavy duty industrial Kraft paper (60# or higher) and wood chips.

I must say that I only use the fabric in areas that I can pull it up in the fall. I used some of the Dewitt professional fabric in my peony fields and when the grass roots go into it after about 2 years it is a horrible mess to pull up, straw is much easier.

I tried the upside down carpet and the same thing eventually happened and pulling up a weed infested carpet is worse than the fabric.

If you use a torch to burn the holes in the plastic fabric it works better than a knife.

The stuff I have lets a lot of sunlight in. It’s probably useless.

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I’ve tried landscape fabric but it always ends up getting weeds eventually. Last year I used a heavy black plastic over soaker hoses. I cut X holes where I placed the tomatoes and even smaller plants. My garden was virtually weed free. I don’t like the look of plastic but after a weed free summer, I was sold. I’m maintaining it this year with no replacement of plastic needed. It was Lowe’s heaviest grade black plastic. I covered some old holes I cut with heavy black tape and there is no tape peeling or break thru. I’m really pleased

is the black plastic your talking about "solid’ ie not woven from strands of plastic?

Are you not worried about lack of air exchange in the soil and what that does to the soil life?
I know the solid plastics are used for solirazation and bio-fumigation. Which practicaly sterilize the soil.

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@oscar , you raise an important point and one I need to consider. I have seen lots of earthworms and excellent productivity in the sections open for growth. The raised beds are filled with lots of organic waste, limbs and old small logs, straw, topsoil, mulch, and rotted compost. This year the plastic is only in areas not actively growing like ground surrounding the beds. Perhaps I came to the same conclusion but came about it in a different way.

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A few thoughts.

Japanese weeding hoe. Makes weeding much easier

Also. Black plastic for 4 or 5 weeks prior to planting will sprout and kill off most weeds. Helps a lot

Also. If you have a tiller set up so tiller can knock out majority of weeds a few times during the season

Finally, I don’t subscribe to the Martha Stewart tv garden image. A little ground cover is good. Just need to keep it under control so it doesn’t choke out good stuff. Also, I see enough weeds that I know which are harmless or even good ground cover and which are evil and must go.

My two cents

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Have same one. I agree. Good length for raised beds.

The only “weed control” I use in my vegetable garden is high-density planting of both flowers and vegetables, which chokes out many of the weeds, and various weeding tools. My favorite is the hand-tool version of the hula-hoe, but I also like the Cobra Weeder and the Japanese weeding hoe. Having appropriate tools makes all the difference. I also have been mulching my strawberry beds lately with rice hulls, but it is more to keep the berries from rotting due to soil contact rather than weed control.

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