Can I use weed fabric or black plastic under my mulch to keep the
A. If you are using inorganic mulch (i.e. crushed
stone, gravel) you will need some type of barrier between the mulch
and the soil. These types of mulch can migrate into the ground over
time. Black plastic has been used in the past as an inexpensive
underlayment that suppressed weeds and retained moisture, but it
has also been shown to limit the amount of moisture and oxygen that
gets in the ground. A newer product, woven geotextile fabric, also
allows moisture to filter into the ground and allows the soil beneath
it to “breathe.”
If you are using
organic mulch (i.e. bark chips, shredded hardwood mulch, or compost)
you do not a weed barrier. The advantage of organic mulch is that
it does degrade and supply the soil with organic matter. If you
use organic mulch and a landscape fabric, you will soon have a small
layer of organic matter into which weed seeds will germinate and,
if given the chance, will latch onto the landscape fabric and be
even more difficult to remove from the landscape bed.
The best way
to start is with a weed-free site. You can also use a granular pre-emergent
that will keep weed seeds from germinating. If weeds do germinate,
the sooner you pull them, the easier maintenance will be.
When I visit my daughter in Texas, I really enjoy seeing the crepe
myrtle. How can I enjoy them at home?
A. I’m sorry to say those crepe myrtles are
not hardy here in Illinois. According to the USDA hardiness zones,
Peoria, Illinois is in zone 5b and crepe myrtle is only hardy to
zone 6. Some cold-hardy alternatives to crepe myrtle would include
ornamental crabapple or flowering pear trees. There are also numerous
flowering shrubs that will give you excellent flower displays and
are also hardy to zone 5.
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