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does landscape fabric create draining problems in your SFG?

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does landscape fabric create draining problems in your SFG?

Post  gwennifer on 7/7/2011, 7:04 pm

Hi,

I've got a 4'x6' bed built, and all the materials to make my Mel's Mix are in the garage. Before I start mixing and filling, I would appreciate feedback on lining the bed. We can get moles here, and I'd sure hate to come out to the garden and find a mole hill in it. Is landscape fabric enough to keep them out? Or should I do a layer of chicken wire or hardware cloth first?

The lady at the farm store where I got my coarse vermiculite said lining the beds with landscape fabric creates drainage problems, even though those fabrics are supposed to let the water through. Has anyone had problems with this?

Thanks in advance for your help!

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Re: does landscape fabric create draining problems in your SFG?

Post  boffer on 7/7/2011, 7:12 pm

The fabric does slow the drainage water down. My tabletop beds all have ½ inch hardware cloth covered with different types of landscape fabrics. When I'm watering, it's easy to see the excess water drain out. Your SFG box will drain fine as long as the water has a place to go.

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Re: does landscape fabric create draining problems in your SFG?

Post  fiddleman on 7/7/2011, 8:36 pm

gwennifer wrote:Hi,
Is landscape fabric enough to keep them out? Or should I do a layer of chicken wire or hardware cloth first?

Landscape fabric is there to keep most weeds out. It will not stop a mole from tunneling if he thinks there is something he wants inside the SFG.

I would definitely use most types of Hardware cloth over most Chicken wire. The larger diameter wire in Hardware cloth will likely hold up better in a high moisture environment.

gwennifer wrote:
The lady at the farm store where I got my coarse vermiculite said lining the beds with landscape fabric creates drainage problems, even though those fabrics are supposed to let the water through. Has anyone had problems with this?

Thanks in advance for your help!

No drainage problems with a dual layer of landscape fabric on my beds. (trees love to run into my garden to get nutrients.) The Mel's Mix drained wonderfully well even with some of the heaviest rain storms. Wonderfully advanced mixture. I have been very pleased. This all assumes you aren't placing your SFG in a low spot in the yard so the water draining out of the Mel's mix will drain away from the box.

Mark

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Re: does landscape fabric create draining problems in your SFG?

Post  staf74 on 7/7/2011, 8:51 pm

The lady at the farm store said....... bla bla bla

Okay, I'm not being sarcastic to the OP here but you can insert, ad nauseam, most advice you get at a garden store because they are just not dealing with the specifics of SFG'ning. While a good many people work at these places there are many more that, especially at your big box types, just don't have the experience to make these calls and can often lead you astray....sadly.

Your own experience here is what you should go on OR that of others who have specifically done what you are about to do : place weedblock under Mel's mix.

Bottom line. It drains perfectly FINE with a weed block. I've NEVER seen one advertised that does not say on the packaging... "Lets air and moisture through but keeps weeds out" (or something to that effect).

Some plastic chix wire (will not corrode) or hardware cloth around the bottom also solves the moles issue for you.

GO FOR IT Very Happy . Then go back to nice lady at the farm store to brag on how amazing your boxes drain after a deluge !!!!

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Re: does landscape fabric create draining problems in your SFG?

Post  Patty from Yorktown on 7/7/2011, 10:02 pm

Ok,
I can answer a little bit about what will or will not keep moles out of your boxes. Plastic grid gets chewed through, chicken wire is ignored, hardware cloth slows them down, until they get out little ladders and climb over the sides of your boxes, the neighbors cat works pretty good at one or two a day, bionic mole detectors just irate the gardener, wood spurge or castor bean should work pretty good however one stinks and the other is very poisonous!, chewing gum with foil wrappers doesn't work, hot sauce concoctions are just messy, sharp rocks work pretty good but they are sharp rocks on your fingers as well. Some years appear to be worse than others. I understand that table top gardens are the way to go if you are bound and determined to win the war. And war it is. Happy gardening.

Patty in Yorktown

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Re: does landscape fabric create draining problems in your SFG?

Post  staf74 on 7/7/2011, 10:29 pm

haha....gotta love the irony....

apparently the advice I gave could be as moot as farm store lady if your Moles are half as aggressive as Patty's. Chewing through plastic chix wire Shocked what are those moles eatin?....oh i know...YOUR GARDEN !!!! Then go for the real stuff....full metal chix wire it is.

Failing that, we are looking at a strategic minefield perhaps. Great for killing moles but you might have to put up with the odd square or two exploding every now and again Wink

As far as the OP goes though and for my experience, fabric is fine for drainage.

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Re: does landscape fabric create draining problems in your SFG?

Post  Lindacol on 7/7/2011, 10:53 pm

Patty from Yorktown wrote:Ok,
I can answer a little bit about what will or will not keep moles out of your boxes. Plastic grid gets chewed through, chicken wire is ignored, hardware cloth slows them down, until they get out little ladders and climb over the sides of your boxes, the neighbors cat works pretty good at one or two a day, bionic mole detectors just irate the gardener, wood spurge or castor bean should work pretty good however one stinks and the other is very poisonous!, chewing gum with foil wrappers doesn't work, hot sauce concoctions are just messy, sharp rocks work pretty good but they are sharp rocks on your fingers as well. Some years appear to be worse than others. I understand that table top gardens are the way to go if you are bound and determined to win the war. And war it is. Happy gardening.

Patty in Yorktown

I used metal lath from HD under mine. A 28 in by 8 ft piece was around $6 and it seemed to me it was easier to use and would last longer than chicken wire and maybe even hardware cloth.

I have a serious gopher problem but so far with the lath lining to bottom and the sides are 2 high blocks, the gophers haven't found a way in.

I am on the look out for a security screen door to repurpose for the bottom of a new bed.

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Re: does landscape fabric create draining problems in your SFG?

Post  gwennifer on 7/8/2011, 1:36 am

Wow, lots of responses! You guys are great.

I built my bed on top of our lovely clay ground, in this fairly new development where all the topsoil was scraped off and sold before the houses were put up. In the winter, you can dig straight into the soil by hand and bring up shovel fulls of very heavy soil. In the summer, it hardens up so that you need to hack at it to get a shovel full, and then it's a dusty mess of rock hard clumps. I already knew building raised beds rather then trying to amend the soil was the way to go, even before I'd even heard of SFGing!

Now that I've invested all this money into the Mel's Mix, I want to have the best chance of success from the start that I can get. I can't see that I need the weed cloth on the bottom, since I don't have any weeds or grass I'm trying to keep out. But I already have some that I got for free for helping a neighbor clean out their garage when they moved. So it's not a matter of cost. Oh, and I resisted the urge to make a flat level spot for the bed to go, and instead it's laying there sloping South and East along with the slope of the yard. Makes me almost OCD, but I know it's for the best.

Goodness staf74 - don't mock the farm store lady! Razz This was no big box or commercial nursery I was at. Think about it - her advice would lose a sale at one of those places as it goes against what is stated on the package. She was not anti-SFG. She's pro-gardening in whatever form you are going to do it (organically at least) and was giving me advice based on experience. I was wondering if other's had had the same experience, or if their Mel's Mix can absorb the extra moisture or something.

Oh my Patty in Yorktown! affraid Way to scare off a new gardener before I even get started!!!

Thanks y'all for your input!

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Re: does landscape fabric create draining problems in your SFG?

Post  gwennifer on 7/8/2011, 1:46 am

Lindacol wrote:
I used metal lath from HD under mine. A 28 in by 8 ft piece was around $6 and it seemed to me it was easier to use and would last longer than chicken wire and maybe even hardware cloth.

I am on the look out for a security screen door to repurpose for the bottom of a new bed.

My husband just built us a tile shower. Too bad I didn't think of saving the leftover lath. Ah well, there was just a skinny piece left I think. I remember tearing up my toes on the edges of it pretty good once, trying squeeze past it whilst wearing flip flops...

Have you checked craigslist for storm doors or security doors in the materials section? Or do you have one of those Habitat for Humanity re-store places in your area where people donate used building materials?

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Re: does landscape fabric create draining problems in your SFG?

Post  Barkie on 7/8/2011, 4:09 am

I tested my weedblock fabric before using it and found it is not as good at letting moisture through as I need it to be so I had to punch some holes through.

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Re: does landscape fabric create draining problems in your SFG?

Post  Patty from Yorktown on 7/8/2011, 8:02 am

Sorry,
I did not mean to scare off a new gardener. Maybe your area has stupid moles and voles.
Patty from Yorktown

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Re: does landscape fabric create draining problems in your SFG?

Post  Mamachibi on 7/8/2011, 4:37 pm

I'm thinking chainmail for moles. Laughing

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Re: does landscape fabric create draining problems in your SFG?

Post  PNG_Grandma on 7/8/2011, 5:03 pm

We used the landscape fabric (commercial grade) on all the boxes in our community garden, the Apollo Garden, when we built them last July. So far no one has had any problems with drainage, and wow, we had some HUGE rainstorms roll through here during the past 6 months! You can read about our efforts here:
http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t2996-modesto-central-valley-ca

We recently built 4 raised beds in my daughter's backyard in Mountain View CA to keep the gophers out of her garden. We again used the landscape fabric and added 1/2" hardware cloth to the bottoms of each box. During the 3-4 days of getting the yard ready, building the boxes, filling them, and planting those darned gophers tore up her entire backyard, including the surrounding flower beds! They didn't touch the garden boxes! The chicken wire (poultry netting) was not recommended because the baby gophers can get right through the holes...the 1/2" stuff we used should keep any critters out...hopefully THEY read the label too! You can see our project here:
http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t7903-mountain-view-ca

We highly recommend using the weed cloth (we were amazed at the weeds that sprouted this Spring around the boxes in the crushed rock ground cover!) AND use hardware cloth if you have critters underground, or even think you might have them...consider it plant insurance!! Laughing

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Re: does landscape fabric create draining problems in your SFG?

Post  bwwind on 8/24/2014, 10:49 pm

The fabric does slow the drainage water down. My tabletop beds all have ½ inch hardware cloth covered with different types of landscape fabrics. When I'm watering, it's easy to see the excess water drain out. Your SFG box will drain fine as long as the water has a place to go.
This is very correct!

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