Today’s gardening tip comes from both mine and my friends’ garden. My friend Debbie has a beautiful, lush, happy growing garden. She’s the friend that shared her June Bugs elimination tips with all of us.
Well, she’s growing a garden in the humid and hot southeast part of the country and we’re growing a garden in the hot, dry, arid, clay dirt of the Rocky Mountain northwest desert. Well, we both have some great tips and experiences growing gardens in opposite sides of the country.
But one thing that is universal across the country are those weeds! Hers may be different than ours, but weeds are weeds and weeds are annoying. I literally spent hours at the beginning of the season to un-choke my raspberries, blackberries, grapes and goji berries from the grips of those flowering weeds called Morning Glories. I can tell you, that I fought with them every week for the first several weeks. It’s crazy how incredibly fast they grow and love to wrap their vines around my food and choke it to death. I have spent many “glorious mornings” fighting them off.
A few years ago, I had taken care of the weed problem in our garden area where our garden boxes lie. At that time, I had bought the landscape fabric as I got a pretty decent price on it and double layered it. We then covered it in landscape bark.
I would NOT recommend using the black plastic (or any plastic really) for weed barrier for gardens. You don’t want standing water. Fabric allows the water to escape and not settle. But landscape fabric is not cheap. It has done well for about 4 years now with a minimal weed issue, so I really can’t complain a lot.
Well, my berry patches had overgrown weeds when the season started. It was so much work to get them under control. They themselves had over grown quite a bit too. Once I picked all of the weeds, I didn’t want them to come back. So I made an alternative weed barrier plan that didn’t cost me a lot! In fact, the actual weed barrier didn’t cost me a thing!
This year, we decided to lay down cardboard between the berry bushes. We have lots of boxes because much of our shopping is done online in this day and age. We recycle them in many ways, but this is yet just one more “free” way to use them.
We actually wetted our cardboard hand to make it easier to rip and place where we wanted it (and lots of tight spaces between bushes.
We overlapped quite a bit and made a couple of layers. Then we wetted it again to make it “stick” to the ground and shape and form to the ground without edges of the cardboard sticking up.
To make a finished look, our local Walmart sells bags of 2 cubic feet of bark for $2.50. All we needed for this berry patch was 2 bags of bark – costing $5 total for a DIY weed barrier with a nice landscaping appeal and finish.
I am now working on my strawberry patch, which has also gotten out of control. I like having my plants about a foot apart from each other. We’ve been having issues with strawberry shoots all over the place, along with weeds. So I am planning to use the same method on my strawberry patch to control the shoots and the weeds with the sturdiness of the cardboard and have a nice looking and well functioning, healthy strawberry patch.
My friend down in Georgia, she also did something similar. We use sq. foot gardening, which I love, but she grows right into the ground. Which is great too if you have the right soil. I really like her layout and method of controlling her weeds for her in-ground vegetable gardens.
This is what she has done.
She has put cardboard on her pathways and newspaper around her plants.
The newspaper will be a better option for actual vegetables. The berries are hardy enough that cardboard is fine around them, but newspaper is a much better alternative around vegetable plants. She then filled in the ground with hay (we have seen others use pine needles too if you live somewhere that you can collect a vast amount) in the actual garden.
And then she too, finished the main path with the bark for a more aesthetically pleasing look!
We have used newspaper a lot in the past for weed barrier and it works great, but doesn’t last as long as cardboard. If you use newspaper, we would recommend several layers (like 4-6). We don’t get the newspaper delivered anymore, however you can still get ahold of newspaper for gardening. There are so many places to pick up used newspaper (neighbors, recycling bins, etc.) but if you just simply cannot get ahold of free newspaper, you can pick up the newspaper end rolls at your local newspaper for a pretty inexpensive price. This will end up being a much more affordable alternative than the fabric barrier and more affordable and better than the garden plastic.