Weed-Free Pathways

raymondo17(z9 Sacramento)October 20, 2008

The paths between my three raised beds have become quite weedy over the summer. I dread the chore of weeding the area, and I don't want to flood the area with Roundup. I just had a tree stump ground which yielded a copious amount of wood shavings. Would placing newspapers down on the pathways and covering with wood shavings/sawdust be an effective (and relatively attractive) way of ridding the paths of weeds?

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adirondackgardener(Western Maine)

Yes, use the wood shavings and sawdust.

Lay the newspaper if you think it would help but a few inches of sawdust and shavings should do the trick. When the persistant weeds find their way through, throw more mulch on them. I've mulched all my paths with tons of wood shavings in my 4,000 SF garden.

Since you're posting in the Organic Gardening forum, I shouldn't have to remind you that organic gardeners do not use Roundup, and certainly would never "flood the area with Roundup."


    Bookmark   October 20, 2008 at 7:34PM
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raymondo17(z9 Sacramento)

>Yes, use the wood shavings and sawdust.Great, that'll put all these shavings to some good use!

>Since you're posting in the Organic Gardening forum, I shouldn't have to remind you that organic gardeners do not use Roundup, and certainly would never "flood the area with Roundup."You're absolutely right, no reminder was necessary.

Thanks for the reply.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2008 at 8:15PM
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I had the same problem and used 4-5 layers of newspapers and then put down 2-3 inches of pine needles. It has worked wonderful for about 3 months now . Im sure as some point I will have to replace papers and more layers of pine needles but all in all its cheap and has worked wonderful. You can rake up your owe needles or buy bales of Pine straw at lowes for less then 4 bucks a bale which goes a long ways. Good luck

    Bookmark   October 20, 2008 at 10:41PM
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When I redid my flower bed last summer, we used cardboard as a weed barrier. In one whole section we used left over fabric weed barrier. Topped the whole thing with 3-4 inches of wood chips. Grass has come up through the fabric weed barrier, but NOT the cardboard sections. Cardboard is free, too! Can be found in all sorts of places.


    Bookmark   October 20, 2008 at 10:48PM
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I have actually done this in several gardens and it has worked very well. I laid down several sheets of wet newpaper and then covered with a thick bedding of wood shavings/sawdust. One particular path has been there for a few years and just the odd weed shows-up. I've never added to it.

I'll post a link where you will find photos. Just go down the post a bit and you'll see them. Another gardener, Paul posted photos of his as well.

Here is a link that might be useful: True or False post from S&C Forum.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2008 at 2:10PM
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If you have old clothes like I had retired blue jeans or work shirts or tee shirts that are in tatters, you can lay them down with mulch or sawdust over that.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2008 at 10:10PM
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I think it's important to point out the type of tree that was mulched.
Because an Elm, poplar, or birch tree would not make a good mulch for deterring weeds. You would need an acidic tree and you would need to be careful as to how much you used, so as to not poison the soil.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 11:56AM
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Hi guys,

Funny, I found the opposite to some people here, newspaper and cardboard didn't seem to work so I had to buy some weed fabric which did. I think it depends on which one you buy. I spoke to friends and also a guy over the phone who gave me recommendations. What sort of fabric did you have before flowersnow?

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 8:46AM
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I use truckloads of wood mulch - it is given away free in my county. I like that it will eventually break down into the soil, and when I dig into it and under it, the worms are working hard there. I think something that is a bad idea that some seem to like to use, is rock muches. I think it is particularly a bad idea in garden beds, but just as bad for pathways. Through completely normal process and activities in a garden, leaves, soil, and lots of other bits of organic material end up on top of the rock mulch, creating a new place for weeds to grow. Plus you can never do anything to effectively ammend the soil. In my previous house, there were beds previously mulched with rocks years earlier, with 2 to 3" of material over it. It was a nightmare trying to refurbish these beds with never divided iris and lots of other stuff. Never, ever, use rock mulch!!

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 12:57PM
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The long term effect of mulching is fertile soil. I started with wood chips, got lots of weeds because of them, and solved the problem with plastic sheeting covered with gravel, plus old carpet where I ran out of gravel. Incredible that the consensus of this thread has the unintended consequence of long term weed explosion.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 2:08PM
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I've used wood mulch around and between raised beds for years, and it is almost completely weed free - only the occasional shoot of grass, etc. that is easy to pull. I've added little bits of mulch about every two years, just to freshen things up. I actually use this same wood mulch as borders around regular garden beds around my yard, serving as a barrier between lawn areas and the garden. The borders are maybe 10" to a foot wide and stacked mulch 8" to 10" deep. I keep the grass in the yard, and the wood mulch border keeps the shredded leaf mulch in the beds from blowing around the yard.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 12:29PM
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raymondo17(z9 Sacramento)

As the OP, I thought I should pop in and relay my experience. I put down a layer of cardboard, then staked it into position with those aluminum stakes you get in the sprinkler aisle of big box stores. Then I covered the area with the wood chips left over from my tree removal. Worked wonderfully. After a few seasons, I added a layer of cocoa mulch. Cocoa mulch is a bit on the pricey side, but man it looked and smelled great. It breaks down relatively quickly though and the delicious chocolate smell fades within a few weeks. In any case, occasional reapplications of bark mulch and the pulling of the rare weed has left the pathways between my raised beds looking great.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 1:35PM
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the point I was trying to make. Once you put down mulch, you will have to put down mulch forever, every two years.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 8:13PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

But it is a lot more attractive than old carpet! Some things are worth doing!

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 8:19PM
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There have been several confirmed dog deaths related to the ingestion of cocoa mulch.

Just watchin' out for my canine friends.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 8:27PM
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There seems to be a great misconception by some that mulches should be the final solution to having unwanted plant growth. While mulches can help suppress that unwanted plant growth they will not, forever and always, stop that growth and, yes, the material does need to be replenished periodically if the material used is woody or vegetative stuff that the Soil Food Web can digest.
When trees and other organic matter fall in the wild lands Ma Nature has many wee critters work on that stuff to convert it to plant food. Why would anyone think that would not happen as well in your garden?

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 6:35AM
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