alternative weed barrier?

faerybum(z5 NY)September 15, 2005

hi! im currently redoing the 'patio' outside my back door; it was full of pavers which were laid right on the dirt, so there are tons of weeds in between. im pulling them out and putting down gravel and stepping stones, and want to put down a weed barrier first... im a college student, so if you know what i mean, i dont want to spend $20 on the store bought stuff, whats a good alternative? is newspaper good? how about an old sheet? and will water drain through the newspaper when it rains? it gets muddy there, which is part of the reason why im putting down gravel. thanks!


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Try lasagna gardening: a layer of newspaper, a layer of compost, a layer of grass, etc. There may be a forum here on it, but if not, you can do a Google search. Rodale press has a book on it; I got a copy in a used book store. I was a college student once--I feel your pain!

    Bookmark   September 15, 2005 at 5:01PM
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Newspapers are a great weed barrier, and, yes, they'll drain just fine. I'd use several layers -- I mean as many as 7-10 -- in an application like this.

Lasagna gardeningalso can use newspapers, but since you're replacing the patio with a different type of patio rather than a garden, I'm afraid that won't help you here.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2005 at 4:34PM
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Judy_B_ON(Ontario 5B)

Of course, if any weed seeds land on the gravel in the cracks between the stones the seeds will germinate and grow. There is no way around having to pull the weeds that grow in gravel between stones unless you use an herbicide.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2005 at 9:36PM
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faerybum(z5 NY)

thanks guys, ill try the newspaper. i know ill have to weed afterwards too but atleast what i couldnt dig up wont pop through!

    Bookmark   September 19, 2005 at 3:39PM
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boiling water poured on the weeds gets rid of them, also rock salt kills them, both inexspensive.

Lasagna method is for where you want things to grow, not where you are trying to kill them. Good luck!

    Bookmark   September 22, 2005 at 5:00PM
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midnight_jasmine(z6, OR)

Cardboard works great!! Use cardboard and then put down some plys of newspaper and cover it with compost and wait until Spring and it will compost the weeds underground. It is also called Sheet Mulching. Worked wonders on my property.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2005 at 3:46AM
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PurpleRainbow(z8 NW WA)

In my back yard I laid down about 20 sheets of newspaper, covered them with topsoil, laid in some rocks that were lying around and planted creeping thyme, elfin thyme, and Irish moss between the rocks. Works great so far and the weeds I did get pulled easily. The thymes and Irish moss are spreading well even though I started with small clumps. HTH
BTW I agree about the lasagna method is great for gardening but not for a place where you want rocks or gravel since the idea is to not grow stuff there. Vinegar is also a great weed killer.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2005 at 11:24AM
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This is very interesting. I might just learn something here that I can pass on to do it yourselfers.

From a professional standpoint, I can't use or recommend something like this.

Both methods do have merits. However, both eventually have to be cleaned up. I've had to clean up beds with actual fabric and newspapers.

In cases where newspapers were used under decorative rock, it was much more a pain to clean up and redo. Mulch, on the other hand, just works itself into the soil along with the newspaper. I can see how this might be good for small areas.

Where a good landscape fabric was used, we simply lift it up intact as a sheet and discard and redo. Notice I said a good fabric. If you use stuff from the home centers, you might as well save your money and use newspaper.

On larger areas, I don't recommend mulch or newspaper. It has been my experience, after cleaning areas of both types of cover, that a professional fabric and stone is your best long term option.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2006 at 8:42AM
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I have used both newspaper and cardboard as a garden mulch successfully. Newspaper is a little bit difficult, since it tends to get blown around the yard. Cardboard works better because it is heavier and larger, so easier to work with. Either one will soak up water and pass it through to the ground. Just dont use the glossy stuff. You can also buy cardboard in rolls for mulching which is easier to lay down and works very well.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2009 at 10:54AM
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can you use an old sheet as a weed barrier???

    Bookmark   May 2, 2009 at 3:12PM
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I have a wonderful way of getting rid of weeds and sterilizing the soil all at once. I took this from a library book years ago and it works wonders. Also great as a weed barrier. If you have patience, it takes a year for the process to work by itself...but here goes. Take a heavy sheet of plastic (I used an old pool tarp that was going to go in the garbage anyway, but the heavy black plastic weed barrier product will work fine too), lay it all over the area that needs to be de-weeded, lay something really heavy all around the perimeter and in the center to keep the plastic from coming up, and let it go for one year. Everything will have smothered down and all you're left with is soil. You know it's ready because after a year you'll see that there's nothing but dirt and then you know it's ready. After that for our patio, we graded properly, laid new plastic down, set the stones over top and the weeds are extremely minimal. Should have done that 25 years ago but didn't know.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2009 at 8:59AM
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Perennial weeds will come up through the most "professional" of landscape fabric and just become tougher to get rid of because of it. I spend my life trying to get rid of weeds that have come through fabric. Save your money.

Ensure that you don't have pervasive/invasive perennial weeds in the area that you have the patio slabs.

Herbicide will kill weeds in these areas, but will not kill weed seeds.

I have had good weed control in paved areas with the careful use of a Weed Dragon.

Here is a link that might be useful: Weed Dragon

    Bookmark   July 10, 2009 at 1:37AM
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Well, I already have rolls of your typical Home Depot/Ace/Lowes landscaping fabric. Should I throw it out, use it instead of newspaper (if it works technically a margin better), or use it in conjunction with now fewer sheets of news paper?


    Bookmark   October 26, 2010 at 10:37PM
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i'd try this place for good deals on garden fabric.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 12:36AM
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Although I have used Landscape Fabric "weed" barriers I have found that they are more trouble then they are worth since many "weeds" can grow right through them, Dandelion, Plantain, Quack Grass, unless one pulls the fabric up about every three years and cleans the roots growing on that fabric off.
While newspaper, cardboard, or similar materials do sometimes need replacement they are, in my opinion, a better material to use then the fabrics are.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 7:34AM
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