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To Use or Not To Use Weed Fabric

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Re: To Use or Not To Use Weed Fabric

Post  sanderson on 3/13/2014, 1:52 pm

Gwennifer,  I used to save pottery shards for the drainage holes.  In CA we have LOTS of common clay pots.  I've changed to plastic pots for extra veggies.  Seems the common clay pots dry out so fast, like a Mexican clay water pitchers that cools the drinking water.  Evaporation.  Anyone remember the burlap (?) water bags for cars??

Walshevak,  Yes, coffee filters.  I was using so many for each of the larger pots that I switched to the weed fabric.  I have plenty of that stuff.

Kay, you have also solved a problem I have.  Thank you!  thanks  I have a hanging basket of perennial oregano but the birds have half stripped the coconut fibers building their nests!! ( Last spring I draped bird netting over it but anyone who has used bird netting knows why I stopped using it! ) The birds are so brazen that they will swoop down even if we are outside near the basket.  I was going to reline it but the replacement pads seem to have a sticky, waxy coat on them.  The labels and boxes don't explain what the product is.  I will rebuild it using 2 layers of cheaper weed fabric.
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Re: To Use or Not To Use Weed Fabric

Post  camprn on 3/13/2014, 2:28 pm

@NancyD wrote: 
What about the wood you use?  I know I shouldn't use treated wood.  Is a hardwood more durable than generic white board?  
I use plain pine 2x8s.
@NancyD wrote: What about using paving stones?  I know that's more $$, but is there a functional drawback to them?

NancyD
For me the functional drawback would be stubbed toes.

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Re: To Use or Not To Use Weed Fabric

Post  sanderson on 3/13/2014, 8:16 pm

I use free, scrap 2" x 4"s from construction sites, double- or triple- stacked for anything deeper than 1 foot. Cedar fence planks for 1' deep up to 3' long.

Always get permission from site manager to take scrap wood.
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Re: To Use or Not To Use Weed Fabric

Post  Marc Iverson on 3/14/2014, 12:39 am

The one coir-lined planter I have had pretty thin coir, so I lined part of it (it's a rectangle) with a couple of layers of paper towels, and part with a water-absorbing liner. I figured the box, pretty shallow and lined with coir, would be good only for small shallow-rooted plants, but would leven with them because it would lose water very quickly. The coir is so thin that parts of it are almost see-through, and there's hardly any volume to the soil.

It seems to have kept the MM soil in pretty decently, but the part with the water-absorbent commercial lining bulges out the bottom when watered. It really absorbs the water well, but is stretching the coir even more. Sooner or later the paper toweling is going to be digested by nature and I'll have to re-line it, maybe with thicker coir. It dries up pretty quickly though; quicker than any of my many containers.
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I choose not to use weed fabric

Post  mgbeheler on 3/28/2014, 7:22 pm

I started out using weed block fabric, because Mel said so. I've used types of different durability and thickness. First conclusion: don't bother with the thin. Go for the long lasting, thick kind; if you use it at all. I had no drainage problems with either.
Weeds from below aren't nearly as much of a problem as the ones that sneak in from the sides or from above. Weed seeds and vegetative bits of stuff like creeping charlie are thrown into the garden and take root when the lawn is mowed. A maple tree drops its seed like little bombs that dig themselves deep into the mix. (I would feel impudent trying to train my 70+, slightly addled, landlord to mow with the discharge chute pointing away from my garden.)
Some things, like creeping charlie, think of fabric as sort of root trellis around the edges of the boxes.
Eventually, I decided to just lay down several layers of newspaper in the bottom of new boxes. By the time the paper rots, most of whatever is lurking beneath should be dead. Paper works at least as well, if not better, than the fabric  for establishing a bed. What comes up through paper (mulberry, poke berry, and sprouts from the roots of some vine my neighbor grows) came up through fabric.
If there is a reason to dig deep in a square - like for transplanting or thinning something "perennial" like chives - the fabric is a root entrapping, trowel defying nuisance.
Once the mistake of using the thin stuff is made, taking it out to replace it with thick makes a "bits of plastic everywhere" mess. Newspaper, or cardboard, which will block weed invasion from beneath long enough to get the bed off to a good start, then gracefully rot away, is a better choice for me.
As far as wall material - boxes I built from lumber yard 2X10s five years ago are now at the "I wonder if I can put off replacement for one more year" stage.
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Re: To Use or Not To Use Weed Fabric

Post  gategitter on 3/28/2014, 9:21 pm

I agree !!   I havnt ever used weed fabric but I dont plant to spend any more money than I have to to get my garden going. My husband works at a farm store and the pallets of feed come in with sheets of thick cardboard between them. And guess what........ they are 4x4 !!   I thing they will work wonders.
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Re: To Use or Not To Use Weed Fabric

Post  Goosegirl on 3/28/2014, 9:39 pm

Heavy cardboard works great!  That is what I used when setting up my original Lasagna Gardening beds.  I now have most of my boxes on top of the old Lasagna beds.  I only have trouble with persistent bindweed in one box, and it is NOT in an area that originally had cardboard underneath.  Never thought of that before!  

GG
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Re: To Use or Not To Use Weed Fabric

Post  Yardslave on 3/29/2014, 4:03 pm

It's all good and well until Bermuda grass, kekuyu grass, or nutsedge finds your luscious Mel's mix and decides to move in. You will regret it if these weeds take control of your beds. Not only will you have to weed the box, but once the rhyzomes know the way in they will invite relatives over. Line the box, and forget about the cardboard barriers. Weeds find their way in after the cardboard or newspaper has become wormfood  and they will eventually be lured in by the water and rich fertile mix.
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Fabric is no protection from airborne weeds, alas!

Post  mgbeheler on 3/29/2014, 5:06 pm

The trouble is, Creeping Charlie and friends found their way over or through the "weed block," and once their roots got hold of that fabric - it just became one more highway for weed entry.
Different sites have different problems.
Most of the weed contagion I have to deal with is airborne because my beds are in my landlord's weedy lawn, and when he mows weed "cuttings" and seeds are thrown into them. The bed walls could be stainless steel, and weeds would still need to be fought. Neighbor's maple tree sends its paratroopers each spring, too.
Cardboard, newspaper, fabric - the best defense is being OCD about yanking out weeds while they are still very tiny and easy to pull. Unfortunately, weather and health don't always cooperate with that schedule. But, if it weren't for square-foot, I would not be gardening at all.
----
There are lots of mulberry trees on site here, too, and new trees sprout from roots wherever they take a notion, coming up through even through the heavy-duty weed block, and the asphalt parking lot. It rained a couple of week here once, and no lawn mowing was done. Lawn turned into a knee-high forest of hundreds of  mulberry trees. They were planted here back before the Civil War, even before my great grandfather bought the property, as part of a failed attempt at growing silk worms. This variety doesn't even have edible berries, the trees are just big indestructible pests. (Be careful what you plant - generations to come might have to fight it.)
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Re: To Use or Not To Use Weed Fabric

Post  gategitter on 3/29/2014, 11:04 pm

Not afraid of a little round-up.  Figure that is how I will keep the grass and weeds from growing up to the edges anyway. We have rattlesnakes that have no problems coming in the back yard so I cant have tall stuff they can hide under anyway. Ill just round up around each box and hopefully that will deter the bermuda grass. crossing my fingers anyway.
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Re: To Use or Not To Use Weed Fabric

Post  trolleydriver on 4/25/2016, 9:53 am

First of all, my apologies for resurrecting an old thread. There are lots of good ideas as well as some conflicting suggestions in the thread. I'm wondering what the current thinking is and would appreciate advice on what I am planning to do.

I am ready to install my two new SFG 4x4 boxes. My original boxes were placed in an area that was already a veggie garden so I just put weed barrier underneath them. We have good soil drainage. The new boxes will be placed in an area that currently is lawn (a mixture of Kentucky bluegrass, fescues, etc).

Here is my plan:
1. Do NOT remove the grass. 
2. Put down two layers of corrugated cardboard over the grass. 
3. Put a weed barrier over the cardboard (if necessary?). 
4. Soak the cardboard with water before putting in the MM (if necessary?).

Feedback is welcomed.
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Re: To Use or Not To Use Weed Fabric

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 4/25/2016, 11:41 am

@trolleydriver wrote:First of all, my apologies for resurrecting an old thread. There are lots of good ideas as well as some conflicting suggestions in the thread. I'm wondering what the current thinking is and would appreciate advice on what I am planning to do.

I am ready to install my two new SFG 4x4 boxes. My original boxes were placed in an area that was already a veggie garden so I just put weed barrier underneath them. We have good soil drainage. The new boxes will be placed in an area that currently is lawn (a mixture of Kentucky bluegrass, fescues, etc).

Here is my plan:
1. Do NOT remove the grass. 
2. Put down two layers of corrugated cardboard over the grass. 
3. Put a weed barrier over the cardboard (if necessary?). 
4. Soak the cardboard with water before putting in the MM (if necessary?).

Feedback is welcomed.
1. I did not remove the grass. (The ANSFG book said "No More Digging" and I'd already done enough digging with original SFG methods early last year that there was no way I was going to do more digging to remove the grass.)
2. I put down two layers of corrugated cardboard, making sure to overlap at the seams.
3. I did not use a weed barrier.
4. I did not soak my cardboard - but my area isn't particularly dry, and it probably got rained on at least once before I got around to putting MM into the boxes that were holding down the cardboard.

The corrugated cardboard was a success in killing the weeds and grass directly under the beds.This year, however, I have grass sneaking in from the edges. I don't like the plasticky weed barrier I've worked with in the past, and I don't regret not using it. In the end, I'd say what you do depends on what you what to do with your paths. If you have green paths, grass and weeds have a base of operations to start sneaking in. I'm switching to woodchip'd paths, and I'm going to have to pull out the grass adjacent to the beds - but I'll ignore the non-creeping weeds.
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Re: To Use or Not To Use Weed Fabric

Post  trolleydriver on 4/25/2016, 11:49 am

Thanks Beetles.

My current SFG area has woodchip paths in the middle parts, grass around two of the outside edges., soil/weeds on another outside edge and gravel/pavers on the fourth side. On the two sides that have grass, there is an outside border of 2x4s with a few inches between the SFG boxes and the grass. I do get grass/weeds popping up between the 2x4s and boxes. I'm planning and doing the same thing (outside border of 2x4s) around the new area that will be extending the existing area.
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Re: To Use or Not To Use Weed Fabric

Post  CapeCoddess on 4/25/2016, 3:47 pm

@BeetlesPerSqFt wrote:1. I did not remove the grass. (The ANSFG book said "No More Digging" and I'd already done enough digging with original SFG methods early last year that there was no way I was going to do more digging to remove the grass.)
2. I put down two layers of corrugated cardboard, making sure to overlap at the seams.
3. I did not use a weed barrier.
4. I did not soak my cardboard - but my area isn't particularly dry, and it probably got rained on at least once before I got around to putting MM into the boxes that were holding down the cardboard.

The corrugated cardboard was a success in killing the weeds and grass directly under the beds.This year, however, I have grass sneaking in from the edges. I don't like the plasticky weed barrier I've worked with in the past, and I don't regret not using it. In the end, I'd say what you do depends on what you what to do with your paths. If you have green paths, grass and weeds have a base of operations to start sneaking in. I'm switching to woodchip'd paths, and I'm going to have to pull out the grass adjacent to the beds - but I'll ignore the non-creeping weeds.
This is my exact experience also except I'm putting down pine needles between the boxes.

CC
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Re: To Use or Not To Use Weed Fabric

Post  trolleydriver on 4/25/2016, 6:48 pm

I had to take off the grass for one of the boxes. I just could not get it level otherwise. I'll keep the grass under the other box. The boxes and paths will get at least a double layer cardboard.
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Re: To Use or Not To Use Weed Fabric

Post  Zmoore on 4/27/2016, 7:57 am

I thought this might be relative to the discussion.  
I had to move a bed this year because it was going to be in the way of my "summer project" for a more permanent garden "solution".
I had just put this bed down last year.  4x4x6" plopped down in the yard with one layer of filter fabric.  So, I moved the bed this year and was amazed at how compacted completely void of weeds it was under the fabric.  
Now, a factor may be that my "lawn" is minimal at best.  Technically there was grass there where at put it down, put it was not real thick and did not have any significant sod layer.  Also, my grass is "fescue" at best it's not ... rhizome grasses?...grasses that grow from tubers/roots.
Anyway, I just thought it was pretty cool.  One simple layer of fabric with the soil on top was sufficient to smother the grasses.  You will note around the edges the grasses is generally thick and I did get some minor "weeds" that would pop up right on the inside edge of the box, but overall no weed problems.  A little more attention to weed eating around the the outside of the boxes or perhaps a mulch layer around the outside would have helped with that.
Anyway, it worked well enough that now my problem is how do I get grass to grow back there?  It's ... dead... and even compacted, just 6" of fluffy stuff really packed that soil.  I can handle it, I'm just a bit surprised.  I thought once I moved the box all I'd have to do is throw seed back down and WOLA!  I'm actually going to have to till it a little to loosen it up some first, then seed.
Anyway, thought it was neat. 
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