Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Weed fabric, weed barrier, landscape fabric etc. might be as hotly debated as fishing lures or Ford vs. Chevy…..nearly everyone has an opinion! Here at Rubber Resources we have our own opinion as well. In the 80’s I owned a landscape company in the Midwest and often used weed fabric but never liked it as it increased our installation times…often it was specified in the plans but I never became a supporter then and certainly am not one now as I rarely saw the benefits of its cost and subsequent performance.

Since moving to Florida nearly a decade ago and having my offices inside a nursery for a few years I seldom recommend the use of fabric. However, I find it absolutely necessary when installing gravel, especially in loose or sandy soil conditions. Gravel has the nasty tendency to disappear quickly into the soil and the fabric is necessary to keep it from sinking.
Secondly, high foot traffic areas; i.e. playground may require a weed barrier depending on the material used and the depth of the material. The thicker the material the less apt it is to mix with the soil. If installed thick enough the mulch or other material will keep sunlight from penetrating and should provide effective weed control on its own.

WHY WE DON’T LIKE WEED FABRIC.Once existing weeds have been removed from a bed the source of new weeds is primarily air borne weed seed. Landscape fabrics are woven and hold moisture in the weave. Anyone who has pulled a weed rooted in the landscape fabric has experienced the root system of the weed sprawled across the bottom side of the fabric. Don’t blame the weed-it is simply sourcing the water it needs to survive.
Fabrics will also allow soil sediment to build on top of the fabric…the longer lasting the weed barrier the greater the accumulation of soil on top resulting in a mini layer of potting soil holding even more moisture!
Factor in the cost of the fabric, increased installation time, and the struggles or removing weeds with their roots imbedded in the fabric and I am not convinced that the added frustration is worth it!

Everlast Rubber Mulch-the solution.
Everlast Rubber Mulch has some unique characteristics that answer many of the issues discussed. It isn’t heavy enough to sink into the loosest soils (yet interestingly enough not light enough to blow or wash away). More importantly, all the water runs straight through it so it is naturally dry. Everlast is non porous so water is not “wicked” to the surface like a wood mulch product (wood always “tries” to stay wet). Other than a heavy morning dew or immediately after a rain Everlast stays dry! Have you ever tried to start some turf with grass seed? To the dismay of many gardeners seed dehydrates quickly….thus the airborne weed seed dehydrates before it ever reaches the soil. In effect the rubber mulch becomes the weed barrier…it’s just that simple.

Our next issue will discuss the nutrient value or lack thereof in wood mulches!