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Weed membrane and perennials

I'm something of a gardening newbie, and I've been busy planting to help attract more butterflies and bees. I've been trying to make the garden somewhat low maintenance by using a weed membrane and bark to cover the beds, and by planting various shrubs. However, I've also started to plant a few perennials such as scabious for the insects. Am I right in thinking that these sort of spread out and grow in diameter over time? I think I've seen some like that. The reason is that I need to know how big to make the hole in the weed membrane - too big and weeds may grow around the plant, but I don't want to restrict the spread of the plant if that is what it'll do. Thanks.


  • Abi4Abi4 Posts: 49

    I'll be interested to see the answers Pork Scratching. I'm planning on similar planting in membrane myself. Hope others can help. 

  • Verdun, I completely agree. Membrane makes gardening harder with every passing year.

  • Rhod CromptonRhod Crompton Posts: 160

    A thick mulch is much more effective in suppressing weeds, I agree with verdun in that it should only be used on paths. If it's perennial weeds you're trying too keep down then you'd be better off spraying them, you'll still get weeds growing in the build up of debris within the bark.

  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 15,138

    I have used a membrane covered with bark chippings in a shrub bed successfully. Shrubs stay where they are put. I cut crosses in it for planting holes.

    But some years ago I tried with perennials, I would not advise it. Clumps of perennials increase in size and when they can't then some of them spread their roots sideways and pop up in the planting holes of others. The membrane makes it very difficult to work with. Bark or a good mulch is much easier to cope with, but you will always have to do a certain amount of weeding in a bed of perennials.

    Dordogne and Norfolk
  • There are plenty of weeds that just love spreading for yards under the membrane - twitch and bindweed for instance. You pick up the membrane and there's a spaghetti supper of roots underneath.

  • Bizzybee63Bizzybee63 Posts: 73

    I have membrane on my beds too from previous owners and it is really hard work planting anything.

    I would like to know if I put my own compost on the beds will it actually benefit the soil or plants, will any goodness get through? Thanks .

  • Thanks all. I'm very happy with the way the membrane has controlled weeds in the beds I've already used it on. They all have shrubs planted and although a bit of a pain when initially planting them it's not a problem now because I don't intend to change them unless they die! I think if I was a keener gardener who regularly changed the content of the beds then membrane would be a nightmare. That's not me though ... well, not yet.

    It's clear from the responses that membrane isn't such a good idea with perennials, so I'm not going to use it where I'm planting those. Thanks again.

  • The weed control fabric works well with these and I use it all the time. You don't need to make a hole in the membrane just a cross section then the fabric can be tucked around the base. It also makes it simple to plant through. As the stems grow the fabric will move. I get mine from Groundforce - always seem to be good quality.

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