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Landscape Cloth:
Landscape fabric can be perforated, woven, nonwoven or spun bonded. Perforated, or needle punched, has pin-size holes throughout, while woven employs a criss-cross weave. Spun bonded fabric patterns resemble webs, creating a strong resistance to tearing. Nonwoven landscape fabric is also spun, but the weave is denser and the fabric is thicker. .

The best type of landscaping fabric for around shrubs is thermally spunbonded. This is proven to be the most effective at controlling weeds, rather than the more loosely needle-punched or woven landscape fabrics.
Do not use plastic sheeting for the purpose of controlling weeds. While it will prevent weeds from growing, it will also make it impossible for air and water to permeate into the shrub.

Since landscape fabric can not be left exposed, the last step is to cover it with some type of protective material. The best choices are tree bark, mulch or stones.

Applying Landscape Fabric Around Shrubs | DoItYourself.com

Mulch helps conserve moisture --- 10 to 25 percent reduction in soil moisture loss from evaporation. Mulches help keep the soil well aerated by reducing soil compaction that results when raindrops hit the soil. They also reduce water runoff and soil erosion. Mulches prevent soil and possible fungi from splashing on the foliage ---- thus reducing the likelihood of soil-borne diseases. They help maintain a more uniform soil temperature (warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer) and promote the growth of soil microorganisms and earth worms.

Properly composted wood chips can be used as a long lasting mulch that weathers to a silver-gray color. Unfortunately, most wood chip material is sold as a fresh material rather than as a composted or aged material. The chips decompose slowly, but as they decompose, microorganisms use nutrients from the soil that might otherwise be available for plant growth.

Organic material that has been stockpiled in a large pile often goes through anaerobic (low oxygen, high moisture) decomposition and becomes very acidic --- pH of about 3.0. (Properly composed organic material will have a pH between 6.0 and 7.2.) Anaerobic decomposition is often a problem with leaves or large piles of wood chips. Such materials are toxic to plants due to the byproducts of anaerobic decomposition: methane, alcohol. The mulch will have a smell of vinegar, ammonia, or sulfur. Marginal leaf chlorosis, leaf scorch, defoliation, and/or plant death may occur. Damage usually occurs within 24 hours after application.

Comparing Mulch Types - Bark, Wood, Cedar | HomeAdvisor says,

  • Bark Mulch is one of the most popular mulches around, because it looks so great once you put it down. It is also an excellent choice when it comes to water conservation, since it provides a solid barrier against moisture evaporation. The one downside of this mulch is its size. Most bark mulch comes in large chips, which decompose slowly. If you can find bark that’s been shredded, go that route. Shredded bark will not only trap moisture in your flower beds better than large chips, but since it decomposes quicker, it more readily adds nutrients to the soil as well.
  • Cedar Mulch is the cream of the crop. Because cedar mulch has natural oils in the wood that repel insects, it’s the perfect choice for wood mulch, especially in areas where termites are common. Cedar mulch is going to be a little more costly initially, but it’s well worth the extra expense when you consider its pest repellant properties.
  • Colored Mulch is another popular mulch alternative. It’s usually composed of wood chips or shredded wood that has been died a reddish color. If you are particular about the appearance of your landscaping, colored mulch is the way to go. It can’t be rivaled when it comes to appearance. Of course, good looks come at a price. If you choose colored mulch for your gardens, make sure your budget can accommodate the extra costs.
  • Natural Colored Mulch refers to wood based mulch that is not colored for aesthetic appeal. Many homeowners choose to go this route, since naturally colored wood chips are usually cheaper than dyed alternatives. They provide the same benefits when it comes to moisture retention, week reduction, and composting properties, but they don’t carry the extra price tag that goes hand in hand with dyed varieties.
  • Pine Peelings, or other wood shavings, are basically the cast of material of more intricate milling processes. They are then collected and sold in bulk as wood mulch. This variety of mulch won’t turn as many heads as bark mulch or cedar mulch, but it serves its purpose. If you’re on a tight budget, but still looking for wood mulch for your gardens, look for pine or other wood peelings at a local lumber yard or wood supplier.>

Apply the fertilizer over the mulch --- nutrients will move with water to the roots below.

Ground Ivy - Common in the north east.

While many broadleaf weed control products are based on 2,4-D herbicide, there are other products that are more effective when it comes to controlling ground ivy. Broadleaf weed control products that contain triclopyr, such as Ortho Weed-B-Gon Chickweed, Clover and Oxalis Killer have proven effective. So has a relatively new product on the homeowner market, Ortho Weed-B-Gon MAX Plus Crabgrass Control. It contains quniclorac, along with 2,4-D, MCPP and dicamba.
Rutgers says "herbicides which contain the active ingredient MCPP and/or Dicamba will only suppress the weed. See Ground Ivy in Lawns :: Creeping Charlie
Controlling Ground Ivy in Home Lawns (from Rutgers NJAES)

Natural weed killer:
1 Gal. vinegar
2 cup Epson Salts
1/4 cup dawn dishwasher detergent
Natural Weed Control That Works :: Hometalk

Japanese Stiltgrass

Mulching Trees and Shrubs at NCSU.edu


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last updated 11 April 2010