Weeding vegetable gardens can be time-consuming and using weed fabric presents a solution to this problem, saving a lot of time and effort if installed correctly. There are different weed barrier types and most of them usually last up to 5 years. They are often placed below the soil of raised beds, which consequently prevents damage to the weed barrier. Laying it on top of the soil is not advisable because when it is walked upon, it tends to tear and the weeds grow through it. But it is the method that some people prefer to use.
Installing Weed Fabric
Using fabric for weed control will not solve the problem completely and it is important to understand that weeds are something that you can stay ahead of but never win. For this reason, the soil is sometimes treated with chemicals for tougher perennial weeds before the fabric is laid. Once the plants have been planted, you can lay the ground cover by cutting slits in the material where the plants are situated. Another effective way is to lay the ground cover before the vegetables are planted and to cut a cross where the plants need to be planted.
When preparing the soil, make sure that it is smooth and there are no sharp objects before the ground cover is laid. If there are any stones or sticks in the soil, these could damage the fabric; allowing space for weeds to grow. The recommended tools to prepare the ground is a hoe and a strong rake made from steel. You should ensure that there is no chance of any sharp objects being left in the vegetable garden.
It is not only the beds that need to be kept free of weeds, but the pathways have this requirement as well. Laying ground cover is the perfect way to ensure that you will not be spending hours cleaning the pathways from weeds. A woven plastic weed-fabric is the right type of material to use for this purpose.
Most of the plastic produced today is UV-resistant but to prolong the life, it is better to protect the weed barrier from the sun by covering it with an organic mulch. You can mulch pine needles to help protect the plastic from direct sunlight and prolong its lifespan.
Weed-Fabric between the Rows of Vegetables
The best way to control weeds is to have effective ground cover so as to stop weeds from competing with the plants for the nutrients and water, which in the long term effects the yield of the crop. As crops are grown in different positions each year, it is not necessary to construct a permanent weed barrier. Using weed-suppressing materials, such as garden fabric, plastic or organic mulch is much more practical.
The main advantages of using manmade options for weed control purposes are that they last longer and can be used for more than one growing season. The difference between garden fabric and plastic is that the fabric allows water to seep through whereas plastic never does it. It is safer to walk on a plastic barrier and the best option for pathways. They both have better weed control when there is a layer of organic mulch covering them.
In both cases, make sure that the ground cover is securely in place by using U-shaped pegs and in between the pegs, secure the edges with stones. Once the growing season is complete, roll up the fabric or plastic and store in a cool, dry place to get the maximum working life from the materials.
Weed-Fabric and Recyclable Materials
Due to the cost of weed-fabric, it is often used in conjunction with recyclable materials that are readily available. Using this type of ground cover requires some extra maintenance because loose materials, such as newspaper tend to break down and disappear into the soil. Therefore, they need to be replenished regularly and the best results are achieved when the recyclable materials are laid over the weed barrier. This prevents them from sinking into the ground and breaking down.
One disadvantage of using recyclable materials, such as card board is that if they are placed next to the stem of the plants, it could deflect water away from the plants. With biodegradable materials, such as newspaper and cardboard, it is more effective to lay loose organic mulches over the top.
Applying a weed barrier needs to be done right at the beginning of the season before the seeds of the weeds start germinating. Once the soil has been prepared, the garden fabric can be laid. The vegetables or plants are planted where the slits have been cut in the fabric. If that is not suitable, it should be done as soon as the crop has been planted.
Once the ground cover has been laid, it is important to keep the weeds from growing. Regularly rake or hoe the weeds from the garden fabric so that they do not grow. The paths also need to be clear of weeds and if weed barrier has been used then keep them clean in the same way. It is important to note that eliminating weeds completely is not possible, but keeping ahead of the problem is much easier using materials, such as weed-fabric.
Weed control is only effective if there is constant upkeep and cleaning. Using weed-fabric ensures that the weeds will not grow and they can be easily destroyed using a rake or a hoe.