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To landscape fabric, or not to landscape fabric?

I have a fairly large area of sloping beds around the house, which have just been  flattened by a digger, to remove rubbish and badly overgrown vegetation.

The ground is full of bindweed, mare's tail and ground elder roots. The top growth has gone now so it looks tidy, but I know they will return with a vengeance in the spring.

Digger-man suggested we should cover the area with landscaping fabric, but I am wary. Before it was flattened I removed the old landscaping fabric, which was heavy-duty and basically still sound, but which was protecting all the roots of the weeds underneath it, so that I could not get them out from around the plants. The weeds themselves were simply growing out through the planting holes in the fabric, and through any overlaps.

I am intending to replant with hardy bush roses, russian sage, cotton lavender and other ground-cover plants, and will apply a thick layer of bark mulch around the plants.

Can I have your opinions please on whether, in your experience, I should use landscape fabric, or not?



  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 17,253

    I would hold off planting perennials until the ground is weed free. That means you either smother them in thick black plastic for up to a year, or a few blitzes with glyphosate starting  next spring. If you plant hrough fabric, you will still have the problem ,but not be able to get at it properly to weed it.

    Once it is weed free, plant and mulch. Putting mulch or fabric over perennial roots will have no effect on the weeds at all.

  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 27,299

    I'd go the glyphosate next year route. 

    In the sticks near Peterborough
  • Glyphosate will not remove mare's tail is been around since the Triassic period or so I've read all you can do is just keep on pulling it.



  • I've found this 

    This is the toughest weed to eliminate from a garden. Bindweed,couch grass and ground elder are easy in comparison. The roots go down 3 feet or more so digging out isn't really an option.It spreads by deep runners or by spores in spring. Once you've got one piece you'll soon be over run and if it gets among your shrubs/plants its virtually impossible to eradicate

    I've tried glyphosate(Roundup) and bruised the stems to let the chemical do its work but even after spraying almost every week for months on an infested gravel area it was only partially successful. The weed looked sad but didn't die. (don't worry... read on there is a method that works much better!)

    An organic method would be to cover the weed with weed supressing membrane or old carpet but will take at least a year to be effective and there is no guarantee of success.

    Since writing the above I've learned that tthe weed killer Kibosh( now Kurtail) will kill mares tail. It is very expensive but the bottle you get is concentrated and will dilute to about 20 litres so it will probably last you a lifetime unless you have an enormous garden! (or you could share it with a friend) Once diluted it compares in price with the hand held spray weed klllers common in the shops

    On edit : I've now tried Kibosh and after 7 days all the marestail I've sprayed is black and the top growth at least is very dead. No other weed killer I've used has had much visible effect at all. Time will tell if it has killed the roots completely but it is looking good!

    On edit

    March 2011 ... still . no sign of any marestail.

    I will report back again when plants start growing in spring.

    On edit : 20 th April 2011. There are some signs of regrowth of the marestail :^(

    I have sprayed each new shoot and they're all turning black. I'll stick with it to see if I can eradicate the evil stuff.

    On edit 15th October 2011. The Kurtail has generally been a success. I've had some regrowth but i suspect most is coming from the field next door which I cannot treat. I've also tried it on a gravel garden with great success... no regrowth at all .

    I've also taken the liberty of copying this from Kopex in the comments section below

    "Timbrel works an absolute dream in treating horsetail on lawns. 25ml Timbrel in 5l of water didn't harm new grass and the horsetail was dead in 2 days. Timbrel is selective and kills everything apart from grass so obviously it can't be used around trees and plants"

    I'd just like to add I have no links whatsoever with any of the products I've mentioned. I'm a professional gardener and I'm just describing what works for me

  • Thanks for your comments. I think I would rather spend time getting the plot as clear as I can now rather than trying to tackle it once the plot is planted up. 

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