Garden Dilemmas, Delights & Discoveries, Ask Mary Stone, New Jersey Garden blog

A Landscape Fabric Intervention!

Mary Stone, Garden Dilemmas, Ask Mary Stone,Gardening tips, Garden Blogs, Stone Associates Landscape Design, Landscape Fabric

Hello fellow readers, Landscape fabric with mulch on top may seem to work in the short term, but eventually, it will result in an intervention. I look forward to sharing mine :^)

‘Here’s my dilemma,’ wrote George of Blairstown, NJ, in early spring. ‘It’s the border of my driveway. The good side has Daffodils in the spring, then Live Forever  (Sedum purpureum) summer through fall. The bad side matched the good a few years ago, but weeds and grass have taken over. I hope to restore the plantings by rototilling the entire area, saving whatever bulbs and Live Forever plants I can. Then apply weed and grass killer, then preen, then a layer of fabric, then more preen and mulch. Then poke holes in the fabric and replant the Live Forever. In the fall, I’ll poke more holes for Daffodils.’ Holy cow, I thought to myself, time for an intervention!

George went on to ask, ‘Will the Live Forever survive in the poisoned soil? How about the Daffodils? I also have considered avoiding the dilemma by just planting grass after I rototill.’

I wrote back, ‘I’m not sure how to advise you on your dilemma as I’m not a fan of non-organic weed or grass killers. You’d have to read the product warning labels and directions to determine when you can plant after applying.’ (His reference to ‘poisoned soil’ said it all, but I thought it best to be diplomatic as not all share my point of view.)

Landscape fabric with mulch on top may seem to work in the short term, but weeds will grow on top once the mulch begins to decompose. George asked if Daffodils would get through landscape fabric – nope. Nor will perennials spread. (Check out the video below of our Landscape Fabric Intervention — with more on why Landscape Fabric around plants is a No-No)

When invasive weeds take over a garden, and it’s time for a do-over, I prefer to use an organic weed and grass killer such as Burn-out or Avenger. First, remove the plants you wish to keep and plant them elsewhere temporarily. Depending on the invasive weed, I’d rototill (unless you have Mugwort), apply organic weed killer, then cover the area with plastic to cook the weeds and weed seeds for about 6-8 weeks. The process is called soil polarization, and I’ll share details on the ‘how-to’ next week.

It turns out George went for the organic method. (Yay) And didn’t want to surrender to grass over a garden either. (Double Yay) Intervention success!

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Column Updated 6/12/22

Mary Stone, owner of Stone Associates Landscape Design & Consulting. As a Landscape Designer, I am grateful for the joy of helping others beautify their surroundings which often leads to sharing encouragement and life experiences. These relationships inspired my weekly column published in THE PRESS, 'Garden Dilemmas? Ask Mary', began in 2012. I dream of growing the evolving community of readers into an interactive forum to share encouragement and support in Garden and Personal Recoveries - seeking nature’s inspirations, stimulating growth, weeding undesirables, embracing the unexpected. Thank you for visiting! Mary

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