Weed Suppression Cloth for Perennials
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Lesley
Posted on: November 23, 2003

I am not sure who to ask this question to... Am I able to use a weed suppression cloth and bark mulch in the perennial bed? Will they [the perennials] still be able to come through if I cut a hole?

Weed suppression cloth is widely used in the landscaping industry to prevent weeds. For example, it is used around shrubs and evergreens in foundation plantings. The cloth, usually made of a black plastic fibre, permits moisture to pass through it, but most weeds cannot penetrate it. In a foundation planting, for example, it is placed over the entire garden area, and the shrubs and evergreens are planted in holes cut in the cloth. A mulch, usually a bark mulch, is placed over the plastic cloth mainly for esthetic reasons, to hide the black cloth. As long as the cut holes are big enough not choke the plants as they grow over the years, the cloth will not interfere with the growth of the desired plants.

The same system works for most hardy perennials. Low creepers such as thyme may not work as well, but anything with a more or less single point of emergence from the soil should do well, even herbs that form laterally expanding clumps.

Rather than cut a circular hole where the perennials are to be planted, we like to cut an "X" big enough so that as the plant grows the opening can expand somewhat thereby lessening the chance of choking as the clump expands.

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