While cleaning out overgrown shrubs and invasive plants from the yard of our new home, I've discovered that large sections of it seem to be sheeted with black plastic about an inch or less under the soil. It's caused a lot of plants to spread roots out wide and shallow, and as a result the topsoil in many areas is as spent, dry, and bare, as a pot-bound dead nursery plant. Nary a worm to be found. I didn't grow up in this area, so can anyone tell me if this is a common practice for erosion control (the yard is sloping)? I cannot imagine it held much in place. I want to pull all of it out and start amending the soil, or at least let the plant roots grow in a more natural direction, but I don't want to create a larger problem. Any landscapers out there that might be able to advise me?
The home was built in the late 70's, if that helps. Not sure if the plastic was done by the original builder/owner, or a later landscaper. I'm flabbergasted.