Weed prevention — free, eco-friendly, no chemicals or plastics. Sound good? Then sheet mulching is definitely for you.
If you have landscaping you are probably all too familiar with the struggles that brought me to this point. I started spring with hard work outdoors— cleaning pine straw, debris, and weeds from the flower beds. I was so proud of how fresh our yard looked! My goal was to go outside and pick the few weeds that popped up every day (just like grandma says) to keep it pristine. If you haven’t guessed by now, that’s not working out.
I go out to pull weeds regularly, especially since we have been self-quarantined for months, and I have even tried the dreaded poison spray in the areas away from our food garden. Nothing is working. They are growing faster than I can keep up! So I needed a new plan. My research on weed prevention originally brought me to landscaping plastic.
I have heard horror stories from others who have used landscape fabric/plastic in the past, so I dug a little deeper. Is that considered a gardening pun? 😉
Problems with landscaping plastic:
-Prevents organic material from feeding soil.
-Earthworms can’t live under it.
-Prevents plants reseeding.
-Some weeds still grow through, and they are impossible to remove without tearing the plastic.
-If you have a lot of beds, it will get very expensive very quickly.
-Makes a mess as it falls apart.
Also, do we really need more random synthetic plastic out in the world than necessary?
So I looked for a more natural option and came across a couple of sites talking about sheet mulching for weed prevention. Sheet mulching is often used to convert grass space into garden space. It prevents growth from underneath while also working as a natural compost to enrich the soil. You basically layer cardboard and then much over top of it.
Sheet mulching was clearly the option for me.
Pros to sheet mulching:
-It’s completely eco-friendly! Using the cardboard prevents it from becoming trash or using energy to be recycled.
-No chemicals or plastics.
-Nourishes the soil.
-Encourages earthworm activity
-It’s free! Just collect unwanted boxes.
There is still work to put in, but if you have landscaping to care for, I’m sure you’re used to that idea. I put out a post to my friends asking for any boxes they wanted to get rid of or were planning to recycle. I received more than I imagined and then got to work.
It’s important to remove any tape off of the boxes because that will not break down naturally. After cleaning the boxes up, I cut one corner of the box and laid it out flat and played garden Tetris to fit them all in just right.
Then I will cover them all up with pine straw, but you can use any kind of mulch you prefer.
I’ll post a more detailed tutorial and have an update on how well it is working soon!
Links to websites I viewed for information on sheet mulching.