Learn how to apply polypropylene fabric the hard way…


Side garden Probably you do know people who don’t like gardening. I guess everybody does. So, so do we… the previous owners of our water mill. They neglected 90% of the garden because of this. They mowed a tiny lawn and planted fast growing perennials around it in the specific French manner.  This means; all as solitaires with no recognisable pattern. This also led to a ‘certain’ disregard of the rest of the garden and a prosperous growing nettle field.

When we bought the mill in 2009 over 4/5 of the garden was one big impenetrable bush of nettles and thorns. We seriously had some work to be done. (Read: Back to Basics) Still it was not till last year when we decided to move to some heavier methods. The nettles just kept coming back. We needed Weed Control! Polypropylene fabric was the answer. (Read: We Didn’t Start this War.) We placed it where we replanted the beds and covered it with woodchips. #fail. We learned how to apply polypropylene fabric the hard way… these are the 7 rules:

Rule #1: Do not just place the weed control fabric on top of the soil. Kill and destroy all growing power in the weeds with a sweet Round-Up treatment. Wait for a week or two/three. Then cut everything with a bush cutter and burn it. All roots need to be penetrated with the poison to make sure the first year will be safe.

Fight against Weeds Rule #2: Do not attempt to put the fabric in a bed with perennials without taking everything out first. Plants that grow together with nettles and thorns are completely  mixed underground. Partly cutting away or taking out nettles does not  save time. It will backfire with 10 times as much of the unwanted green in your flowerbed the same year. You need to carefully take the perennials out, inspect the roots and remove every unwanted and detached root to make sure no weeds remain.

Rule #3: Don’t think the surface will flatter under the fabric after applying. Rocky mountains do not disappear if you walk on them. Before applying the plastic carpet, make sure your bed is flat. It will make sure your chips wont slide off hill. Plastic bumps in your beds are ugly.

Rule #4: Do not expect slugs to be disappear. Your new bed will look nice and slug-unfriendly. Which stickly crawler would like to pass thousands of  wood pieces to reach the juicy green? Right, none. And the wont! They will simply dive under the plastic and sneak their way to your perennials unseen. The holes will tell them where the meal is served. Just keep them out your flower beds your usual way.

Rule #5: Do not be cheap on chips. Woodchips are expensive. You pay easily 5 to 10 euro a bag of 50 kg eq. 1 m2. They promote to have a layer of at least 5 cm thick. Trust me – It’s True! A thinner layer you’ll show every step you make.

Fasten your Plastic Rule #6: Don’t think the plastic will stay put. Our biggest mistake. Working in the garden you walk, move plants, pull the plastic unnoticed. Before you know your plastic has moved a little as 10 centimeters just enough to give air and space to your beloved nettles. Nail the fabric with special bridge-like pins to make sure this does not happen to you.

Rule #7: Don’t cut the holes too far apart. After applying your perfect weed control, you will plant your flowers. Calculate a certain possible growth over the first year or two. If you really don’t want to see wood chips or uncovered plastic, make sure your perennials are not too far apart. There will be nothing in between for the next seasons. Closer and it will be a bed faster.

Take these advices … we learned the hard way and broke every rule above. We know now. 🙂

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3 Comments

Filed under Gardening

3 responses to “Learn how to apply polypropylene fabric the hard way…

  1. Jan

    Thanks for sharing this, respect!

    Can’t wait to read your lessons learned about fighting moles…

  2. Lots of helpful information. I have bookmarked your site.

  3. Pingback: Perennials Rule | Supergites' Blog

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