Author Topic: Setting up a mulched bed - weeds!  (Read 1375 times)

Wolfpack Mustachian

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Setting up a mulched bed - weeds!
« on: February 24, 2020, 11:31:17 AM »
In the combined interests of efficiency and reduced environmental impact of MMM, I'm setting up a front "flower bed" area adjacent to my house in the front, and I'd like some advice. I've used black truck bed liners laid over the area to kill everything down pretty well. I'm going to be planting blueberries in the area. I've already done it on one side, hoping with the weeds being killed ahead of time, it would help. It has, but after I planted the blueberries and mulched, there's still tons of weeds. I don't want to use Roundup, and I was hoping to find a good, efficient way of helping the issues since I'm starting from scratch. I've contemplated the landscape weed liner to put on before mulching, under the mulch, to keep weeds from coming up but have heard that can have a negative impact on the soil quality overall. Any ideas of what to do to reduce the need for excessive manual weed pulling? Anyone had any positive/negative experience with the underneath liner stuff? Thanks for any advice you can provide!

nereo

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Re: Setting up a mulched bed - weeds!
« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2020, 11:56:27 AM »
In general I avoid using any sort of weed barrier liner, except on pathways lined with stones.  At best weed barriers work for a season - weeds will eventually get into your soil and germinate.

when you are starting a new bed, the easiest, most ecologically-friendly way is to cut away any existing grass and then lay down a deep layer of good, soil.  You can cover it in plastic if you like to keep weeds from getting established but avoid laying a liner under the soil, which isn't very effective and causes all sorts of problems wiuth drainage later.

It sounds like you have not mulched thoroughly enough, and/or your mulch is already contaminated with weed seeds.  At a minimum I'll put down 3", and often as much as 6" around larger, fully established plants.  Any less than 3" and weeds will be able to pop up from underneith.  Mulch towards the end of the season and again in spring for maximum weed suppression and plant enhancement.

Don't use round-up.  Just no.

If the area is large you can get a 'gentleman's hoe" which basically tears up the weeds.  They'll keep springing back up but they are quick to knock down.  Otherwise, hand-pulling weeds is just a fact of gardening, though if you need to do it more than once every 2 weeks something's not right (liklely hte amount/type of mulch, see above).  I can hand weed a 2x10' raised bed in 5 minutes as long as i haven't let the weeds get too big and firmly established.

lthenderson

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Re: Setting up a mulched bed - weeds!
« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2020, 02:01:07 PM »
For permanent landscaping, I kill the weeds by whatever method you desire, lay down landscaping fabric and mulch with river rock. 95% of the area is not even planted with anything so I really don't care what the soil condition is and in fact would prefer clay so that water runs away from my foundation instead of absorbing in. For the 5% that actually has landscaping planted in it, I put a good quality soil in the holes when planting the landscape plants after I have laid down the landscape fabric. Make sure to use water permeable stuff and not just cheap plastic crap that often gets sold. Years ago I used woodchips for mulch and it works but is temporary. It decays over the years and turns into soil, birds fly over and "plant" it with weed seeds and eventually you get weeds and your only option is to keep piling on fresh mulch every year to smother out the weeds, pull the weeds by hand during the year or use chemicals. This probably keeps getting worse unless you are adding more mulch all the time and eventually you get these huge mounds that will still develop weeds as it decays. With river rock, you avoid all this since they don't decay and there isn't enough matter for bird "planted" weed seeds to germinate. If you have leaves that fall on it in the fall though, you will need to blow them off with a leaf blower so they don't decay into the rocks. I have river rock beds with landscaping that are ten years old that I haven't had to touch a single time and don't have any weeds growing in them.

NaN

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Re: Setting up a mulched bed - weeds!
« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2020, 07:37:25 AM »
I booked marked this link a while back. False seed bed, stale seed bed. I imagine there are a bunch of other links out there. I agree with @nereo the mulch likely had weed seeds in it.

https://www.easydigging.com/guide/easy-weeding.html

From the link, the strategy is till your soil, put the mulch down, wait at least 14 days. Then shallow cultivation (remove the top layer of weeds but don't stir up the bottom dirt that likely has weed seeds in it), then plant. You could probably even dig the holes for the blueberry plants ahead of time.

I am not weed expert but weed seeds are everywhere. It is more of effective defense strategy (like the river rock) rather than complete extermination, which only disappoints.

kei te pai

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Re: Setting up a mulched bed - weeds!
« Reply #4 on: March 01, 2020, 12:46:50 PM »
What are you using for mulch? I agree, you may be importing weed seeds. A good layer of peastraw, topped up when it wears a bit thin works for me. Weeds will come up sparsely, should pull easily and can be left on the ground under the mulch to rot down. When you renew the mulch, an initial layer of cardboard, well watered, can help slow the weed growth.
A living healthy soil is less likely if you use weed barriers of plastic materials.

big_owl

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Re: Setting up a mulched bed - weeds!
« Reply #5 on: March 01, 2020, 01:47:40 PM »
I use newspaper or cardboard before I put down mulch.  It will prevent any existing weeds from growing up and then just decompose by the end of the summer.  Once you've eliminated existing weeds it's pretty easy to pull up new ones that start to grow in the mulch if you hand pick them when they're small.  I also keep a small squirt bottle of roundup for true invasives like Japanese honeysuckle or Japanese stiltgrass where trying to pull them up only makes the problem worse. 

Aunt Petunia

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Re: Setting up a mulched bed - weeds!
« Reply #6 on: March 01, 2020, 05:11:14 PM »
I am envious of you who are gardening already. Mine is still covered in snow.

nereo

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Re: Setting up a mulched bed - weeds!
« Reply #7 on: March 01, 2020, 05:19:02 PM »
I am envious of you who are gardening already. Mine is still covered in snow.
Mine too. But now is a good time to start a lot of herbs from seed. By mid April they will be ready for pots or planters.
I normally put those out on my porch about a month before the last frost date. Easy to bring indoors if the forecast is chilly.

Poundwise

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Re: Setting up a mulched bed - weeds!
« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2020, 04:56:29 PM »
I use newspaper or cardboard before I put down mulch.  It will prevent any existing weeds from growing up and then just decompose by the end of the summer.  Once you've eliminated existing weeds it's pretty easy to pull up new ones that start to grow in the mulch if you hand pick them when they're small.

 I do this too. It works well!

Punky Bikester

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Re: Setting up a mulched bed - weeds!
« Reply #9 on: March 05, 2020, 04:00:56 PM »
I agree with the cardboard/newspaper route. When I started gardening at my house, the previous homeowners had used landscape fabric and plastic under mulch (in multiple layers, no less). The soil underneath was compacted and in very bad shape, and roots and weeds had grown through the liners anyway, so it was a complete PITA to remove them. And they definitely needed to be removed. Imagine digging a new plant hole and hitting fabric after a few inches, or raking an area to flatten it for planting and having the rake snag on plastic and ending up with shredded garbage bag all over your yard. If using newspaper, use more than you think you need - you don't want any light getting through, or any gaps for weeds to poke through before they've been killed off. I did have problems with weeds initially - a lot of them are opportunistic and love recently disturbed soil. After a couple years of getting after them and NOT disturbing the soil (only applying mulch), they just don't pop up as often. Good luck!

Wolfpack Mustachian

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Re: Setting up a mulched bed - weeds!
« Reply #10 on: March 05, 2020, 04:02:34 PM »
Just wanted to say that I really have appreciated all of the suggestions, and if anyone has any more I would appreciate them as well. I really enjoy being outdoors/planting/harvesting etc. Weeding just isn't as much fun :-).

Gerard

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Re: Setting up a mulched bed - weeds!
« Reply #11 on: March 06, 2020, 10:54:45 AM »
OP, on a different tack, blueberries like acidic soil, so changing your ph might discourage weeds while still allowing the blueberries to thrive. Mulch with needles from conifers, maybe?

kei te pai

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Re: Setting up a mulched bed - weeds!
« Reply #12 on: March 06, 2020, 12:31:29 PM »
I'm an untidy gardener and sometimes leave plants to go to seed -parsley, chard, coriander (cilantro), some salvias, calendula, if I want to grow them again. If you weed regularly, it doesnt take long and you soon recognise the garden freebies that pop up.