Monday, February 19, 2007

Underneath the Landscape Fabric

Between selling and tossing plants the nursery is beginning to thin out. I have been able to remove the first section of landscape cloth that was laid down to slow the growth of weeds around the potted plants. A very old former bed of Lemon Grass, African Iris, and False Oregano underneath two Manila Palms and a Holly tree had been removed and covered over to make more room for growing potted plants.

Now it is being returned to open soil and what ever fate may be in store for it.

There is a lesson underneath the landscape fabric that lazy gardeners fooled by the garden products industry may need to see. To many times to count I have seen and been told by people that they are going to put down this fabric so they won't have to pull weeds. I always object.

This is what happened under the landscape fabric over the course of just two years. The roots of the Palms, Holly, Ti and Red Ginger still in the ground nearby all rose to the surface. They are gasping for air and trying to escape a putrid wet soil beneath.

Any remnants of organic matter has long since decomposed and the soil may have shrunk a bit as well. The bare soil itself is all that is left to feed these roots. There was not a bug, a worm or movement of any kind in this tangle of roots when I lifted the fabric.

Living on the side of a rocky volcano, my soil is thin to begin with. It isn't unusual for main roots to be near the surface. This scene however with many feeder roots at the top of the soil is not the norm in the rest of my garden where there is no fabric and the beds are mulched.

This interlocking network of roots sitting on top of a stressed soil is what that pretty petunia poking out through its little hole in the fabric is going to be competing with at some point when this stuff is used in a garden for any length of time. Not Good.

Just say No to Landscape Fabric if you want a real garden.


Cheryl said...

One of my favorite parts about working in the garden is all the interesting critters that show up.

Annie in Austin said...

We used fabric some years ago, trying to keep weeds and grass out of beds, but the Bermuda grass was not discouraged, and grew through the tiny holes into one mess of roots and rotting fabric.

We put some under a gravel path at this house, probably because the big roll was already paid for and in the shed... I wouldn't buy it again.


Deviant Deziner said...

A post that is worthy of being reproduced in Scientific America, or perhaps 10 Things you should never do in your garden, the illustrative issue.


chuck b. said...

Equal parts sad and gross!

We use this fabric at the Botanical Garden nursery and it's a joke. The nasturtium and Roberts geranium laugh at any attempt to impede their progress toward world domination.

Xris said...

How is it feeling to be "packing up" like this? I've had to move my garden a couple times, but nothing as extreme as your transition.

Not going to be so "tropical" after the move. Are you going to keep your blog name?!

Christopher C. in Hawaii said...

I feel very good about this move. I look forward to starting a whole new garden with new kind plants, new climate, new soil type and a lot more elbow room.

The blogs name will have to change. I will let my new home speak to me for a bit and see what it may say.

At this point I have been thinking, "The Low Spot on a Mountaintop".