Landscape fabric is a no-no?

littlebug5(z5 MO)August 27, 2014

I noticed a few comments about landscape fabric in hosta beds in another thread, but I didn't want to highjack it.

So, apparently this is a bad idea? ALL my beds have landscape fabric under them. Why, specifically, is this bad for hostas?

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funnthsun z7A - Southern VA

It doesn't block squat and it's a pain in the #$%$% if you ever want to change the design of the bed, dig a new hole, etc. Tilling is out of the question--EVER. Just my opinion, but I also think it stops the soil from "breathing" properly and kills off a good portion of the beneficial organisms living in the soil. Man, I hate that stuff. Can you tell, LOL?

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 7:07PM
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Thistle and Maize(Zone 5a- Eastern IA)

I despise it too, especially the thick fabric like stuff the previous owners of our house used. It is a nightmare. And guess what - there are tons of weeds that grow OVER it. It may block but only for short term and it's not healthy for the soil, from what I read. If you must use something, lay down newspaper and wet it, then mulch. The newspaper breaks down.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 7:27PM
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don_in_colorado

Yup, I agree, ladies. No likee that stuff.

Don B.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 7:31PM
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Moccasin(z9aMobileAL)

Well, I laid mine down and it did kill some weeds the first year. Second year, weeds grew over the mulch. Now this year, I was spreading new mulch over the old, and the prongs on my garden rake (4 prongs, very long), kept catching in it, and I noticed that beneath there was nothing I liked to see. I'd had troubles with water running off, and taking mulch with it. The water did not soak into the ground below the fabric stuff. Some of the fabric was like new too, which meant it had not begun to decompose as I thought it would when I laid it. We get lots of rain, and my little neighbor began wondering why her yard was suddenly flooding up next to our fence. And I wanted the water to stay where it fell, you might say, so now I'm taking it out as I encounter it. I use a very sharp new utility razor knife and simply slit it and yank it out. No more landscape fabric for me either.

Laying newspaper sections and mulching over it is a great way to build your soil. I've done that quite often. When we spent half the year in MA, I would pile all the old leaves and such over the newspaper and by the time we got back, the worms had turned the ground into a really neat NO DIG bed. It is somewhat related to LASAGNA GARDENING, which is a term you might google for techniques.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 7:47PM
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mac48025 ( SE michigan)

Landscape fabric is great. It offers a tough membrane for weeds roots to grow into making weeding a ãÃÂ¥%!#!!!!! I can't imagine ever using it. If you don't want weeds just plant wall to wall hosta's!

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 8:49PM
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littlebug5(z5 MO)

OK, I understand the PITA factor. I was afraid there was some problem specific to hostas and fabric - as if maybe their roots couldn't breathe under it for some reason.

Part of my biggest hosta bed is cardboarded; well, actually it WAS cardboarded, but it's gone now. Which is the point, after all.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 9:32PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

"I was afraid there was some problem specific to hostas and fabric - as if maybe their roots couldn't breathe under it for some reason."

Well, its not specific to hosta, but eventually plants do have a hard time with air exchange and water and nutrient filtration as the fabric clogs up. Not to mention weeding is a pita (was that mentioned?).

tj

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 10:28PM
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bernd ny zone5

In respect to Lasagna method, I did that too with several layers of newspaper over short-cut lawn and leaves and mulch over it. No breaking back and great planting a year later. Bernd

    Bookmark   August 28, 2014 at 8:55AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

the problem is not limited to hosta...

the problem is.. a vast majority of seed is either wind borne.. or bird borne ...

and minutes after you lay down the fabric ... weed seed is being deposited on top of it ...

they said the rest...

ken

    Bookmark   August 28, 2014 at 9:09AM
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Moccasin(z9aMobileAL)

True enough, Bernd, no breaking back. It is what I think of as "working smarter". You use Mother Nature to do the work, and meanwhile sit back and have a nice snooze in the hammock, take a vacation, attend a lot of concerts and sports events, and voila! it is ready to work. Ho hum, sure beats sweating on a late August day!

I did a quick google for "lasagna gardening" and turned up a lot of downloadable pdf docs, and one YouTube video of interest, a mere 3 minute one. You might also like to check GWeb because it is a very popular subject.

Here is a link that might be useful: YouTube Lasagna Gardening video

    Bookmark   August 28, 2014 at 9:13AM
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smorz(4b)

yup, its a regret of mine... I am in process of pulling it all up. Wood chips and the slimy white rot fungus is going with it, as well. As I pull it up, I have been mixing wood shavings from the chainsaw into the soil. Huge improvement, at just a 1' depth... as I get more I will go deeper.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2014 at 10:46AM
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renais1

We used landscape fabric over a very large bed (80'x60' or so), and it was a huge mistake. As stated above, the weeds soon came back with a vengence; we had covered all the landscape fabric with a thick layer of wood chips. Where the landscape fabric was, the weeds were much harder to pull, grasses were almost impossible, and the soil seemed to be degrading underneath. The fabric is a major pain to remove, but I am slowly getting rid of it.
Renais

    Bookmark   August 28, 2014 at 11:13AM
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hosta_freak(z6 NC)

The only time anyone would ever want to use it,is if you want NOTHING to grow there,but as Ken said,weeds still grow on top of it and then you have a hard time pulling out weeds that grow down into the fabric! I don't ever use it for hostas. Phil

    Bookmark   August 29, 2014 at 2:33PM
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newhostaaddict

the ONLY thing it MIGHT be good for is if you are putting landscape stone on top...

I am constantly digging and moving things around...sooooo would be a MAJOR pain in my "butt"

jill...

    Bookmark   August 29, 2014 at 3:30PM
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bernd ny zone5

I used it to line holes which previously were occupied by hostas with HVX or other viruses. It separates the good new soil from any viruses around the hole for some time. I assume the viruses around the hole with any root debris will die off in time. Previously I used several layers of newspapers with the same purpose and hostas did not catch any viruses of former ovccupants for several years now.

I used landscape fabric also stapled to 1x2 lumber as temporary sun screens when there was no burlap in the house, also cut holes into the fabric to reduce wind resistance, spray painted the fabric to blend in, worked fine.
Bernd

    Bookmark   August 29, 2014 at 6:56PM
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SouthCountryGuy Zone 4b-5 SE BC(Zone 4b-5 SE BC Canada)

The best is to allow a little sun on it here and there. The UV will break it down making it the best mess you ever seen to clean up.....then again if you go to the carpet store you could put that down instead.......kidding!

SCG

    Bookmark   August 29, 2014 at 7:43PM
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Babka NorCal 9b

I love it and use it for a different reason. Each year, when I plant tomatoes and peppers I make wells around them for watering using that 4" wide plastic edging . I put landscape cloth (the light grey fiberglass looking stuff) in a 3' wide continuous piece between them cutting out the 2' circular wells around each plant. The landscape cloth keeps the squirrels, cats, etc from digging in the area and no weeds grow on it, and when some of the tomatoes spill out over their cages and touch the ground the fruit doesn't rot. I only use it one season, then roll it up and toss it, as the UV does weaken it. I use littlesquares of it for ANNUALs grown in hanging pots to keep the media from running out the bottom holes.

I did try it "way back when", under mulch elsewhere in the yard, but when I saw all the weeds growing on top of it kept moist by the mulch, I ripped it out. Bad stuff, unless you are using it short term.

-Babka

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 1:36AM
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arcy_gw

I wish that worked for me Babka. My tomatoes are so prone to that virus that comes from back splash of water on the tomato leaves. I plant mine in 500 gal barrels, removed the "used" soil every year, barrier the dirt and plant with fabric and grass clippings and it still gets through!!
I removed yards and yards of heavy duty PLASTIC sheeting from the beds surrounding my home. They were all rocked with some very nice large hosta when we moved in. The plastic kept the rock above soil. The plastic kept the 10 million acorns from germinating in and around the hosta. It also prohibited any slugs from setting up house near the hosta. When I removed it I found hosta roots laying on top of the soil moving along under the plastic searching for water/air? LIFE. Now that it is all gone life is 10,000 easier when I need to add a plant or swap some out. The hosta are very happy but my back is breaking. Leaf mulch is the PERFECT medium for tree sapling germination. It is also very slug friendly. In gardening one has to pick their battles. I am not sorry I chose mulch over fabric but don't get the impression life is perfect w/o it either!!

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 6:28AM
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don_in_colorado

"I removed yards and yards of heavy duty PLASTIC sheeting from the beds surrounding my home."

Same here, Arcy. Previous owner apparently thought it was a good idea, for some reason. Placed about 8 to 12 inches under the dirt. That was fun to remove, eh? : I

Don B.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 5:58PM
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SouthCountryGuy Zone 4b-5 SE BC(Zone 4b-5 SE BC Canada)

Ha, imagine carpet that has lost spine.....million miles of strings to pull...ugggg

    Bookmark   August 31, 2014 at 4:48AM
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