NEVER Use Weed Barrier Cloth

Article & photos courtesy of Judi Short

If you don’t read the “Spaces” section of the Tribune (and it might also be in the D News) on Saturday, you are missing out on a very informative article written weekly by someone from Jordan Valley Conservation Garden Park.

A few weeks ago, Cynthia Bee wrote an article about the use of weed cloth or weed barrier in the garden. Her advice is that weed barrier cloth is a weed. It doesn’t work, it kills your soil, and it kills your plants. There is a LOT of weed barrier cloth at Gilgal, and her comments rolled around in my noggin for about a week, and then I asked John Silletto (we call him “shovel man”!) if he could look at how hard it would be to remove the cloth from under the redbud trees in the allee. Now, John doesn’t know he isn’t 25 any more, he tackles any project like a challenge, and before I knew it, he had peeled about 15′ of that cloth up, and asked me to take a look. 

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Under the cloth, it looked like slick rock! No shovel or garden fork we had would penetrate it. I found Golden, and he told me that after the old adobe house was razed by the city, around 2001 or thereabouts, the city parks department filled in the hole and leveled the ground out with ROAD BASE!. I thought that was the cause of this problem. NOT! Golden told a tale of using pickaxes and who knows what else to try to get the holes dug for the eight trees.

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My plan was to bring in a load of compost, maybe cover it with bark, and let it fester, hoping in 50 years the worms would fix the soil. I sent some photos to JoDeane Condrat at USU and asked her if I was on the right track. She said I was, and not to ever use weed cloth. So, that is on the list of projects at Gilgal when the weather gets a bit cooler. Over time, we will remove the rest of the weed barrier cloth at Gilgal.

In my own garden, next to a vegetable box a stack of bark mulch in sacks sat over the winter. As I finally got the mulch spread around, I took out the bags and when I lifted the last one, there was that darn hard pan dirt again. It came over from Gilgal (ha ha!) So, the moral is that when you disturb the oxygen flow to the earth, you are paid back in spades with hard rocks that will take years to fix.

DON’T EVER USE WEED BARRIER CLOTH! And read the garden article in the “Spaces” section of the newspaper every Saturday for good tips and advice.

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