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landscape fabric over grass?

Posted by johnplace z6 (My Page) on
Tue, Aug 23, 11 at 23:58

I have a very large mixed tree/shrub border around my backyard loaded with conifers (some of them interesting, some not so much). It's also loaded with grass, since I didn't create a bed per se.. I just planted stuff directly in the turf.

Anyway, things have gotten to the point where I can't mow between plants anymore, so I need to kill the grass and mulch the entire area (either wood mulch or stone).

I don't think roundup is an option, as I think I'd kill many of my plants. It's a large area with many plantings, completely covered in grass, so I think it would be next to impossible use roundup safely.

I'm sure someone will suggest laying down cardboard.... with mulch on top... but I would need a very large amount of cardboard. I'm not saying it can't be done... but it wouldn't be easy.

I tried using a layer of brown packing paper with mulch on top this spring on part of the yard and that proved to be a complete waste of time, as some of the tougher weeds busted right through.

I do have a roll of landscape fabric... Yeah, I know it's evil. But what I want to know is if pea gravel (or the like) over landscape fabric will kill the grass. Is this possible? Or will the grass simply plow right through it?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: landscape fabric over grass?

Actually the Roundup wouldn't hurt conifers with hardened new growth and could be used half strength on the grass. Use low pressure on the sprayer and hold it close to the grass. Or you could spray away from the conifers and use a paint roller near and under them. You could also put white plastic bags over the conifers when you spray (quick on and off so they don't cook in the sun).

A better alternative would be newspapers spread and then covered with mulch. Go about five layers thick. You can get newspaper at a variety of different papers. Check a local newspaper and ask for their returns. If they donate them for recycling, find out who to and offer them a few dollars for some stacks. By the time it rots away the grass will be dead.

By the way, if you have any moles they may be so entertained by the funnies that they will forget to eat and starve (probably not).

Bob


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RE: landscape fabric over grass?

if God had meant you to bury a man made plastic product in your garden.. your trees would be plastic...

you will find no experienced garden an any GWeb forum that will agree that this is a good idea ...

in fact its a landscape nightmare.. PERIOD!!!!

the trick to roundup is .. as noted.. LOW PRESSURE ... this is not french perfume.. do NOT atomize if ... and if you avoid such.. you avoid drift ...

first.. get a spray tank.. and learn how to use it.. fill with water.. and go play on the driveway .... you have 3 things to tinker with pressure ... number of pumps.. the nozzle at the end.. and the handle squeeze pressure ...

fill the tank.. and pump it 10 times.. check result.. then add 10 more.. etc ...

then loosen the noozle ... and adjust it until you see DROPS ... believe it or not.. gravity makes drops fall to the ground.. even in a good wind ... obtain and learn what i call a COURSE droplet spray ...

finally.. use the trigger handle to learn how to control how much comes out..

once you have played around for less than an hour.. you will have total control of droplet management ... and perhaps wet kids if you choose to entertain them with the water .. lol ..

after you got that.. then study the link .... look deep into those pix.. and understand that my 5 acres is a one man project.. w/o roundup ... it would not be what it is ..

BTW... i get generic glycophosphate for about half of the name brand .. i get it at the local farm outlet ... or tractor supply .... this year.. i think it was 65$ for 2.5 gals of 41% .... i can not fathom what they charge at bigboxstore for those tiny containers ... and make sure you get the PLUS.. with the sticker/spreader ...

now.. wrap yourself around this.. as it sounds your stuff is getting large ... roundup does nothing to bark ... you have to hit green ... you can soak the bark of a tree with no result... though i dont know why ...

and if you have a given 6 foot tree.. i am going to guess you will have to spray 60 % of it.. to kill it.. if you hit a bud or two at ground level.. you will NOT kill the tree .. though you might get some burn on that branch tip ...

when i do the deed .. as you offer.. i would spray and shoot for about 85% efficiency.. i can not hold my attention to spray at 100% efficiency for hours at a time ... i would rather kill a large swath.. and come back in a few days.. when it is all off color and reshoot the remaining green stuff .... rather than start messing with a wandering mind ...

once sprayed.. it can be immediately covered with mulch.. and anything that survives can be shot when it grows thru ...

the biggest caveat.. is to not walk into the good grass with boots dripping of the spray.. or in a few weeks you will wonder why you have all these mysterious footprint sized dead spots in the lawn.. lol ...

way back when.. i was doing a bed.. and went out at dawn.. and sprayed the dewy grass and then proceeded to spend the day driving the lawntractor back and forth from the front yard ... for mulch.. a week later.. i had all these steaks thru the lawn ... it was NOT hilarious then.. as it is now ... idiot.. lol ...

once dry on the grass.. it is rainproof.. usually within one hour ... i have beaten rainstorms by minutes.. but it still works ...

i am sure there is more.. ask away ...

ken

ps: should you have to buy a tank ... when i start for the day ... i fill my tall 3 gal tank with two gals.. because that is all my shoulder can carry for hours on end .... but the tall tank is easier to lift and set down w/o bending .. a couple hundred times per day ...

Here is a link that might be useful: link


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RE: landscape fabric over grass?

  • Posted by whaas 5a SE WI (My Page) on
    Wed, Aug 24, 11 at 10:26

I outline the bed with a black rubber hose, use the white upside down marker paint then take my mower around the line to ensure it contours the shape appropriatly.

Then I fire up the mower and scalp the grass. I use a finer mulch with alot of bark since I have slopes. It actually kills the grass as it doesn't let any light in like some of the stringy mulches.

I rarely use any round-up. I'm not against, its just that I don't need it.

This is a much much easier task if you do it early spring before the grass gets vigorous. Also works well in July but it can be quite hot to be moving mulch.


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RE: landscape fabric over grass?

Roundups lame. And toxic (any certified chemists are welcome to argue with me here - if not, please hold back). Why mess with that stuff? I applaud you for not wanting to take the lazy option and just spray some stuff. Cardboard or staked plastic for a week in hot summer sun should do the trick. The object of course is to encourage "hot and dry" and covered. Cook the stuff. Then lay on the mulch, thick. Mulch will also break down once fungi and microbes get to it and will add nutrients to your soil. Hardwood (angiosperm) mulch is of course better than conifer mulch for this, but use what you can, and good luck. I just dig up my grass, flip it over and expose the roots to the sun, but of course I am in my late 20s and appreciate the hard physical exercise. Give me ten years and I wo'nt be using this method anymore.


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RE: landscape fabric over grass?

I'm in my mid-60's and I flip sod to make new beds. You never outgrow your need for exercise.

RoundUp (Glysophate) has its uses, and, BTW, it's supposed to be toxic...that's how it works. It's helped me defeat a huge amount of Ivy.

Cooking your future garden soil with plastic cover is a bit self-defeating. It kills more than grass.

Landscape fabric, and other "man-made plastic"(Is there any other kind?) isn't evil, but it has its limits. Killing grass for a garden bed is one of its limits. You don't want to have to dig through it in the future in order to plant. I have thousands of square feet of landscape fabric in my garden. The back and side garden paths are landscape fabric covered with woodchips. They're great paths and my most efficient compost generators.


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oops!

Make that "Glyphosate."Photobucket


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RE: landscape fabric over grass?

The problem with landscape fabric is that over time decomposed material, wood chips in most cases, will build up on top of the fabric. As it becomes deep enough weed seeds or anything else that will grow in a medium will take hold and become a issue.

My last thought on this topic is any kind of fabric or plastic that keeps weeds down will also keep fallen leaves or mulch from adding organic matter to your soil, leaving behind a hardened, dead zone where plants struggle to survive. I have pulled up some of the last I installed 12 years ago and the ground was like a brick underneath. Truly a dead zone where nothing could grow or having any benefit for any expensive conifer trying to survive in an unnatural environment.

Dave


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RE: landscape fabric over grass?

I forgot to mention in my last post that landscape fabric is a huge no-no. Like Dave said, it creates a dead zone in the soil. I have witnessed this firsthand - a dry, hard brittle layer of soil which is much more deficient in water and humus and nutrients then the layer above it. Much worse then round-up (though given glyphosphate's I.e. roundup's potential long-lasting effects to human health, maybe it is not worse in the long term).

"Cooking" grass with a plastic cover might kill other things in the soil as it heats up, like worms and fungi, but there will still be microbes in the soil and the worms and fungi will just go deeper down, returning once the grass is dead and the plastic is removed. Honestly, this is a lot safer and less harmful then spraying any sort of chemical. And of course, I would use black plastic sheeting.


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RE: landscape fabric over grass?

Ken and I are of a like mind-that much large-scale landscape mgt. would be well-nigh impossible without tools like glyphosate herbicide. One little adjustment to what he said though: While it is correct that this chemical is absorbed by green plant parts, it is not necessarily safe to spray it on tree trunks. Especially on warm, humid days, small, nearly invisible fissures can open in the old, dead bark that won't absorb glyphosate. This can expose inner, green tissue to the chemical.

I don't think anyone here would blast away at a tree tunk with the stuff, if for no other reason, it's expensive. But I would caution any would-be applicator to take reasonable precautions to not spray the stuff on any part of your desirable plants.

+oM


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RE: landscape fabric over grass?

Thanks to everyone who commented above. Update: Well, I decided to use the cardboard and mulch method, despite my earlier reservations. I made a few "reverse contributions" at the local cardboard recycling center. lol.

Time will tell if any weeds come up. If they do, I'll use the generic roundup equivalent suggested by Ken and others.

I only made it through about 1/3 of the yard -- like I said, it's a huge border I'm working on -- so by the time I finish, maybe I'll know how the technique worked out.


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RE: landscape fabric over grass?

Great discussion--thanks to donn for the encouragement. I've used the break the sod method in the past, but was looking at other options since the first digit of my age flipped to 6 last year.

One comment--I often seed with annual buckwheat following a period, usually of 12 months or more, of bare fallow. The buckwheat is good at discouraging any other plants getting started. Works even on quackgrass. You just need to keep it clear of any seedling trees you're starting.


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RE: landscape fabric over grass?

I have the same question on a much larger scale.
While my yard is small by comparison to most (think patio home size) what I want to do still seems like a large task.
My yard is dead and I am not interested in reviving it yet again. Ive got all sorts of weeds and junk growing sparsely throughout and I want to mulch the entire yard.
Do I use landscape fabric over the entire area to kill everything? Ive read the cardboard idea a couple of times, is that the way to go?
Or should I just roundup the whole yard, lay the mulch and hope for the best?
Ive attached a pic of a neighbors yard of what I have in mind. Mine is about that size with no sidewalk. maybe a bit bigger
thanks

[IMG]http://i50.tinypic.com/25ps2gg.jpg[/IMG]


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RE: landscape fabric over grass?

Crewe, first off, nix the landscape fabric idea. That is simply not its intended use. Nor can I support its intended use, but that's another topic.

If I had your task ahead of me, I would definitely use glyphosate-style herbicide. There are numerous generic versions out there. The use of such herbicides across millions of acres of corn and soybeans bred to withstand this chemical is quite problematic, but is in no way connected to what we're talking about here. Used according to directions, you won't be poisoning your yard or that of your neighbors, the chemical will not end up polluting groundwater, and all the dogs in the area won't die. It is safe-when used properly. And it will make your task a great deal easier and even better.

BTW, look into backpack sprayers. They are the way to go.

+oM


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RE: landscape fabric over grass?

Believe it or not, glyphosate really isn't all that toxic. All it does is inhibits a certain enzyme in plants that is needed for producing certain essential amino acids in plants, killing them. People don't use the same enzymes, so it really isn't that big of a toxin.

You can definitely find worse herbicides.


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RE: landscape fabric over grass?

The problem is that people assume it is toxic because of what it does.


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RE: landscape fabric over grass?

ill certainly look into that. landscaping not being my forte, my ignorance provokes me to inquire about the dissenting opinions regarding landscape fabric.
Thanks again for the tips.
Oh and secondly, if I were to actually plant after the mulch instead of, or combined with potted plants, would I have to plant it in the ground beforehand?
Again, seems silly I know, but I really have no clue.


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RE: landscape fabric over grass?

crewe

you really should start your own posts ...

and narrow them down to one topic ... as here.. you are moving on from the old post topic of fabric.. into other areas ... the theory being.. that if you start a new post.. with a searchable title.. then others can SEARCH for the new topic ...

dont worry about too many posts ... its just not an issue ...

that said.. i have no clue what your second question is.. the words are confusing me.. and that is part of your learnign curve.. word use ..... but in general ... pull back mulch.. plant.. put mulch back ..

'mulch' is a ground cover to reduce soil heat.. interfere with weed germination.. keep the soil loose ... and reduce water evaporation .. it is NEVER amended INTO the soil ... that would be 'compost' ... but we rarely amend soil when planting trees/conifers anyway ...

so.. start so new posts with singular specific questions.. and we will get you where you want to go ...

see link for planting guide ... there will be a pop quiz on it.. lol ...

ken

Here is a link that might be useful: how to plant


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RE: landscape fabric over grass?

I have the same question on a much larger scale.
While my yard is small by comparison to most (think patio home size) what I want to do still seems like a large task.
My yard is dead and I am not interested in reviving it yet again. Ive got all sorts of weeds and junk growing sparsely throughout and I want to mulch the entire yard.
Do I use landscape fabric over the entire area to kill everything? Ive read the cardboard idea a couple of times, is that the way to go?
Or should I just roundup the whole yard, lay the mulch and hope for the best?
Ive attached a pic of a neighbors yard of what I have in mind. Mine is about that size with no sidewalk. maybe a bit bigger
thanks

[IMG]http://i50.tinypic.com/25ps2gg.jpg[/IMG]


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RE: landscape fabric over grass?

Hoe out an edging around areas with plant foliage you want. Do this to a point where you feel comfortable spraying Glyphosate without getting it on foliage. A big 9or little) guard of cardboard might help. Use a pre-emergent herbicide in the Spring when the Forsythia start to bloom in areas where you have no seeds you want to grow wintered over from your perennials.

Then mulch. The areas around the perennials will take attention over the season, but probably nothing you are not familiar with. Landscape fabric is useless. Don't use it.
Jon


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RE: landscape fabric over grass?

Most forums dont like multiple threads pertaining to similar topics so I appreciate the heads up and all of the tips!

thanks


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