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Should I or should I not use weed barrier? This is, by far, the most common question that we answer throughout the year.

What starts out as a simple attempt to eliminate weeds usually devolves into a situation that neither the client nor the contractor see coming. The idea is to cover the ground with weed barrier, put mulch on top and never worry about it again, or at least cut down drastically on the amount of weeding that is needed.

Unfortunately weed barrier rarely works as advertised and is often a bad idea. The question is why?

Our Okanagan climate seems to be especially suited to weed growth. Long hours of sun combined with early season rain is a perfect environment for weed growth. If weeds are growing in the seams of sidewalks in April then it stands to reason that a roll of fabric is not going to cure the problem in your plant beds.

Here are the basics:

Weeds grow in the mulch that we place on top of the fabric

Weeds grow in the space where 2 pieces of fabric overlap

Weeds grow in the cut outs we use for plants

Weeds grow where fabric contacts sidewalks

Weeds are harder to remove and when they are located below the weed barrier, the fabric is pulled up resulting in a nice place for more weeds

Weeds removed with a hoe usually results in snagging the fabric

Weeds over, around the edges, and within plant spaces can only be successfully removed by hand negating the original plan of saving labor

AND… if there is a slope bark much will eventually wash off the high spots and expose the fabric

If you do have weed barrier in your flower and plant beds:

1. Try to pull weeds every 1-2 weeks from April to October

2. Don’t let them get out of hand so you don’t have to spend an entire weekend pulling weeds

3. Plant ground cover.

4. Use leaf mulch to cover the areas in beds. (see next blog topic)

United does recommend one place to install Weed Barrier.

The best place for weed barrier is under hardscapes including river rock, gravel, broken rock, etc. You will need to:

a. Remove 3 inches of soil before installing the fabric

b. Then install the rock

c. Use a high quality fabric preferably with one felt surface that will stick to the soil.

Our recommendation:

1. Use landscape staples to anchor the edges

2. Convert more of your landscape to hardscape. Dry creek beds over weed barrier are a great example of converted space the reduces weed growth

3. Use leaf mulch (see next blog topic)

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