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To Use or Not To Use Weed Fabric

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To Use or Not To Use Weed Fabric

Post  NancyD on 3/11/2014, 12:08 pm

I am looking to expand my SFG plans. The problem I've had with the existing beds is a battle of grass that still tries to come up thru!  My beds are 1 foot deep, & I'm planning additional beds to be the same. I'm just wondering if I should put fabric under the beds as well as between?  Will if effect certain types of veggies? I'm not planning any potatoes.  I am not an experienced gardener, but I want to do it right to make maintenance as easy as possible.
Thanks for any ideas!
NancyD
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Re: To Use or Not To Use Weed Fabric

Post  R&R 1011 on 3/11/2014, 2:04 pm

I actually lay cardboard down first then weed block over that and line my beds up around the sides a bit.  I only had 2 problem spots where monster pokeberries started to come through (I thought it was celery at first).  Other than that, no weed problems.
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to use or not to use.

Post  SQFTBIX on 3/11/2014, 2:28 pm

You will be sorry if you use it.  It actually causes the water to pond above it resulting in waterlogged plants.  Study after study has confirmed it.

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Re: To Use or Not To Use Weed Fabric

Post  sanderson on 3/11/2014, 3:20 pm

Weed fabric is recommended for SFG.

All New Square Foot Gardening, 2nd. Ed., Pages 61, 81 & 142

My beds and pots drain fine with it.
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Re: To Use or Not To Use Weed Fabric

Post  tagyourit on 3/11/2014, 4:10 pm

I line the bottom of my raised beds with the weed fabric and have had zero issues with weeds or drainage.
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Re: To Use or Not To Use Weed Fabric

Post  R&R 1011 on 3/11/2014, 4:12 pm

I had no problems with drainage either.
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Re: To Use or Not To Use Weed Fabric

Post  gwennifer on 3/11/2014, 5:10 pm

@SQFTBIX wrote:You will be sorry if you use it.  It actually causes the water to pond above it resulting in waterlogged plants.  Study after study has confirmed it.
Oh dear. Do you have any specific studies you can link to? I used weed cloth my first three seasons of SFG'ing when I had a garden box built on the ground, because I didn't want my expensive MM getting mixed up with the existing soil when I pulled plants and when I mixed in new compost and stuff. I never had any problems with drainage.
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Re: To Use or Not To Use Weed Fabric

Post  Yardslave on 3/11/2014, 5:29 pm

I lined the bottoms of my beds with hardware cloth to keep gophers and moles out but neglected to lay the beds on weed fabric. I thought that I'd give the roots enough room to wander down if they need to- I should have payed attention to SFG's 1 foot deep concept. Wow, what a mistake! I have weeds that look like Snakeroot that have invaded my boxes. It spreads on rhizomes( like Bermuda grass) and is constantly reappearing from pieces of the root sections I missed. I urge you to get those boxes lined with weed fabric. I now have flower beds lined with fabric and have not seen ANY problem with water retention, But I do use a drip system and constantly monitor soil hydration levels, I don't just water because of a gardening routine- our water fees have tripled in 2 years, and we are feeling the effects of a drought. Fabric, gravel base, or a holes in the bottom; they are all going to block eventually as soil particles "flush" down and out reducing the size of the drainage aperture- from macro to micro sized particals they will eventually dam up the outlet. Water accumulating on the bottom isn't always an evil, just ask anyone who uses an Earthbox, or grows hydroponic.


Last edited by Yardslave on 3/11/2014, 5:30 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : spelling)
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Re: To Use or Not To Use Weed Fabric

Post  sanderson on 3/11/2014, 9:02 pm

@gwennifer wrote:  I used weed cloth my first three seasons of SFG'ing when I had a garden box built on the ground, because I didn't want my expensive MM getting mixed up with the existing soil when I pulled plants and when I mixed in new compost and stuff.   

+1 MM is precious.
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Weed cloth

Post  SQFTBIX on 3/12/2014, 11:31 am

Latest review of the use of Weed cloth done by the Rodale Institute in Pennsylvania indicated that in small gardening settings such as raised beds, the use of weed cloth dams up the flow of water.  If I remember correctly, they were speaking about root rot.  It could be that with the prescribed depth of the Square Foot gardens, it may not be that big of a deal.  These people know what they are doing as their founder was one of the first "organic farming" proponents back in the early 1900's. 
I read a lot and experiment even more in my garden.  After all, it's about production and having fun doing it.  I remember Mel's programs on PBS and back then, you couldn't record them.  I've been doing SQ Ft gardens since the 1980's and have gardened organically way back to the mid-60's(even though I didn't know I was) when I was just a kid.  Had an elderly Italian neighbor who taught me the value of good soil and his way of getting it that way.  I like Mels way more since the early days were labor intensive to say the least. Very Happy

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Re: To Use or Not To Use Weed Fabric

Post  gwennifer on 3/12/2014, 1:37 pm

@Yardslave wrote:Fabric, gravel base, or holes in the bottom; they are all going to block eventually as soil particles "flush" down and out reducing the size of the drainage aperture- from macro to micro sized particles they will eventually dam up the outlet
This is what I was thinking. The weed cloth ends up acting like a filter, and will indeed eventually get clogged.

And a lot has to do with how well your existing soil drains. We're up on a bit of a hill and don't have any problems. Some of my neighbors have swamps in the winter. Of course, they'd have drainage problems even without weed cloth.

I happened to have a roll of it given to me by some neighbors that moved. So when I wasn't sure what to do, I went ahead and lined one bed and filled it with water to observe what happened. At first the water pooled up pretty bad and I was like, no way, not using it. So I left it to dry out and then the next several days were rainy. I discovered once the cloth had saturated that it drained just fine. Observing it during the rain I never saw it pool back up again. So I kept it in there. But the filter affect Yardslave mentions makes sense.
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Re: To Use or Not Use Weed Fabric

Post  NancyD on 3/12/2014, 5:45 pm

Thanks for the replies!
I don't have drainage problems, I also don't have good soil.  I never realized how blessed I was growing up in the Midwest with black-black loamy soil! Ah, well... I have been doing SFG in my 2 existing raised beds for a few years.  I built the 2 beds not having a clue what I was doing. Fortunately, they are 4x4, so when I discovered SFG it worked out great! That said, I also started out with general garden soil & fertilizer from the big-box store.  I would say the boxes are 1/2 that & 1/2 MM, but they are nice & loose.  Now, could some of the seeds come from that? I don't really know. But every year the grasses & weeds that try & succeed coming thru have gotten worse.  I've done SFG for long enough to know that I love this method!  So easy...IMO, all the good things about fresh produce from the garden with really only the initial time to build/setup. Day-to-day it's easily manageable.  So now I want more.  I know basically what I want to grow, what gives me the most bang for my time & efforts, and want to build a new, more extensive setup.  
What about the wood you use?  I know I shouldn't use treated wood.  Is a hardwood more durable than generic white board?  What about using paving stones?  I know that's more $$, but is there a functional drawback to them?
Thanks for all the help,
NancyD
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Re: To Use or Not To Use Weed Fabric

Post  Yardslave on 3/12/2014, 7:05 pm

On the west coast, redwood is the preferred material. In your region I would think that rough cut 2"x12" ceder would be a better choice for wood. white pine treated with linseed oil will work, but breaks down from the inside of the boxes in about 5 years-it's also termite and army ant susceptible. Green pressure treated wood was originally treated with  arsenic, but now is formulated with copper and a slew of chemical (waste) bi products that resist rotting and infestation due to their toxicity. Creosote coated railroad ties and lumber also leach toxic elements into the soil and can be picked up by veggies. Bricks, cinder blocks, or stone perimeter beds  can make for some great creative landscaping.
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Re: To Use or Not To Use Weed Fabric

Post  camprn on 3/12/2014, 7:31 pm

Regarding weed fabric, the cheap stuff is just that, cheap and ineffective, particularly with tree root hairs. Don't waste your money. If you must use it, go for a heavy commercial grade. It does indeed have poor drainage qualities.

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Re: To Use or Not To Use Weed Fabric

Post  slimbolen99 on 3/12/2014, 8:42 pm

Save your money, go to a store and ask to use their unused cardboard boxes (department, grocery, liquor stores, etc).  Save your valuable money and use the cardboard as a bottom layer, weed barrier.  Over time, the cardboard will break down.  In the mean time, the soil underneath will become a home for multitudes of worms, which are great for your garden.  The soil under your Mels Mix will become better, over time.
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Re: To Use or Not To Use Weed Fabric

Post  camprn on 3/12/2014, 8:46 pm

@slimbolen99 wrote:Save your money, go to a store and ask to use their unused cardboard boxes (department, grocery, liquor stores, etc).  Save your valuable money and use the cardboard as a bottom layer, weed barrier.  Over time, the cardboard will break down.  In the mean time, the soil underneath will become a home for multitudes of worms, which are great for your garden.  The soil under your Mels Mix will become better, over time.
+1

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Re: To Use or Not To Use Weed Fabric

Post  yolos on 3/12/2014, 9:27 pm

@camprn wrote:
@slimbolen99 wrote:Save your money, go to a store and ask to use their unused cardboard boxes (department, grocery, liquor stores, etc).  Save your valuable money and use the cardboard as a bottom layer, weed barrier.  Over time, the cardboard will break down.  In the mean time, the soil underneath will become a home for multitudes of worms, which are great for your garden.  The soil under your Mels Mix will become better, over time.
+1

+1
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Re: To Use or Not To Use Weed Fabric

Post  Marc Iverson on 3/12/2014, 11:24 pm

@sanderson wrote:Weed fabric is recommended for SFG.

All New Square Foot Gardening, 2nd. Ed., Pages 61, 81 & 142

My beds and pots drain fine with it.

You put weed fabric in your pots? Wow. Never even thought of that. You don't think that's overkill?
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Re: To Use or Not To Use Weed Fabric

Post  sanderson on 3/13/2014, 1:50 am

Overkill? Well, it could be viewed that way. The holes were large and numerous, and if Mel recommended fabric for the beds, well.. . . .
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Re: To Use or Not To Use Weed Fabric

Post  walshevak on 3/13/2014, 2:20 am

I was short of money 3 springs ago but had bought a big roll of heavy duty weedblock to line my tabletops (drains great btw).  Didn't have funds to buy new coir hanging basket liners.  Somehow I got the bright idea of cutting big circles of weed block, cutting down toward the center, folding over the cuts and stapling the tops and using them to line my baskets.  They are still in use.  Mixed some water absorbing crystals with my MM because coir holds moisture better than weedblock.

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Re: To Use or Not To Use Weed Fabric

Post  Kelejan on 3/13/2014, 2:28 am

Your flower baskets look good, walshevak.

I agree with slimbolen99 about using cardboard.  Put down a thick enough layer and I should think it would kill those persistant weeds. In the beginning I put down weedblock but not enough cardboard and eventually the horsetail weeds got through.
Any new beds I make this year will have lots of cardboard.
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Re: To Use or Not To Use Weed Fabric

Post  gwennifer on 3/13/2014, 2:58 am

@sanderson wrote:Overkill?  Well, it could be viewed that way.  The holes were large and numerous, and if Mel recommended fabric for the beds, well.. . . .
I do the same thing with my pots since I got that big free roll of the stuff. Usually pots will come with instructions to place a shard of clay pot over the drainage hole before filling. Uh huh. Like I've got broken shards of clay pot hanging around...  Rolling Eyes 
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Re: To Use or Not To Use Weed Fabric

Post  walshevak on 3/13/2014, 8:21 am

Coffee filters are great for holes in pots.

I don't drink coffee but I've got a package of filters.

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Re: To Use or Not To Use Weed Fabric

Post  gwennifer on 3/13/2014, 11:23 am

@walshevak wrote:Coffee filters are great for holes in pots.

I don't drink coffee but I've got a package of filters.

Kay
Oh hey! I bought a package of those for crafts. You're right - they would work great. Thanks for the idea.  Smile 
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Re: To Use or Not To Use Weed Fabric

Post  camprn on 3/13/2014, 12:09 pm

@NancyD wrote:I am looking to expand my SFG plans. The problem I've had with the existing beds is a battle of grass that still tries to come up thru!  My beds are 1 foot deep, & I'm planning additional beds to be the same. I'm just wondering if I should put fabric under the beds as well as between?  Will if effect certain types of veggies? I'm not planning any potatoes.  I am not an experienced gardener, but I want to do it right to make maintenance as easy as possible.
Thanks for any ideas!
NancyD
Another thing I did when I first set up my square foot garden was I took the time to take up the sod where I was planning on putting the bed. No problems with grass growing up through after that.

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http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t1306-other-gardening-books



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