Sunday, April 22, 2012

Hardwood Carpet or Tiles?

As if it isn't bad enough having to deal with the floors you have in your house, when you have a garden, you have to decide what kind of flooring you're willing to deal with outside in the gardens pathways.

We've spent the last two years converting a section of our lawn into a garden.  And gardens need pathways.  Just trying to control the mess my pathway becomes over the year makes me want to pull my hair out.  It takes as much time as the garden itself!  It is not fun.  The grass just WILL NOT DIE!

Grass has to be the cockroach of the gardening world.  Most weeds can be controlled by yanking them out, the exception being the deeply rooted dandelions.  But the grass!!!!  You really just can't kill this stuff. 

Here in NC we've got Bermuda and Kentucky fescue.  The Kentucky is easy enough to deal with but the Bermuda will sit dormant for years just waiting for that moment when the sun hits it and suddenly you've got 10 foot runners through your garden.  These runners make more roots that make more runners.  A never ending cycle.  I think this is why so many of the locals till.  They till once in the Spring so they can get in their garden and plant and after everything is done producing, then they just till it all up in the Fall, weeds and vegetable plants together. 

Maybe it's a girl thing but I like to see a pretty garden with weed free pathways.  Some neatness and thought put into the design of a garden.  It calms me down to see a certain orderliness to the garden.  Oh, I know all bets are off once everything hits maturity with plants growing every which way, but even that controlled chaos can be beautiful.

The only thing I know to do with the Bermuda is to suppress it.  Layers and layers of something that the grass can't get through.  And even then you have to watch it or a grassy patch will sneak up on you after a year or two.  You have to keep piling on the layers every year.  Constant management.




This is what worked for me.  I use layers of overlapping cardboard as a base, then a layer of weed block fabric, then pine bark mulch on top.  Cheap?  No.  But what price do you place on your sanity?

Last year I tossed cardboard everywhere.  It wasn't pretty but worked great at suppressing the grass!  But the problem was that a good thunderstorm or a stiff wind will pick that cardboard up and toss it into your neighbors yard.  So SM and I tossed long, heavy branches from the pear tree we pruned last year and threw them on top of the cardboard to help keep them in place. 

That grew old really quick.  I can't tell you how many times SM and I tripped over or almost twisted an ankle on those branches.  I swore that they would go this year and so they have. 

Saturday morning I went out and bought a couple of yards of pine bark nuggets.  I pulled The Beater around out back and got to work spreading the weed block fabric over the cardboard.




Then I started to spread the mulch.  SM came out to help me from time to time as I would start to peter out.  Just before noon I went and bought another 2 yards.  "You're sure you just don't want to leave this for Monday?"  SM asked.  "He could see that I was getting tired."

"Hey, I may not be strong, but am persistent!"  We're supposed to get some badly needed rain on Sunday and Monday is supposed to be windy.  If it was going to get done this weekend then it had to be today.  And I really wanted this done and behind me!


SM wondered if the acid from the pine bark nuggets would impact the plants.  I don't think so.  I've used PB nuggets for years as a landscaping tool and all those plants are doing just fine.  I've heard that some folks use pine needle "straw" in their gardens as a weed suppressant.  I plan on using regular old straw with newspapers around the plants to try and suppress the grass that's IN the garden itself.

So between the two of us we kicked it out and got it done.  Whew!

It's looking so much better now.  And if there's one less Bermuda runner that I've got to pull than it's well worth the time, effort and money!

12 comments:

  1. LOL! Just last week I was "#itching" to hubby about the quack grass that constantly tries to creep into my garden. I'm forever having to redo the edges. I hate grass, the weedy kind AND regular lawn grass. It's a constant battle.........

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  2. Ugh! we have the same problem with bermuda grass here too :(

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  3. Very timely post for me, as you know! How long do you think the pine bark nuggets will "last?" Oh, I am so not looking forward to trying to kill all the grass in the pathways of our raised beds and around the perimeter. But something has to be done unless I can hire an intern each summer that does nothing but pull quack grass. Fat chance of that happening. But wait. I think I already have one . . . and it's me!

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  4. You have a very nice looking garden. I battle too with the grass. I think it's just an age old tradition. You have a garden you want orderly the grass will be there to drive you crazy. The two go hand in hand.

    @ 3Beeze Homestead

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  5. We use pine bark in the front (for the HOA), and pine straw in the back. Good on ya kickin' butt on that Bermuda!

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  6. We let the sheep graze on the lawn because we are still trying to create pasture land out of the forest. The grass is very thin now and having a hard time growing back.

    All you need to do is to turn a few sheep loose on your lawn and the problem will be solved...of course they will devour all the flowers and anything planted in the garden too!

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  7. Gloom, despair, and agony on me! If it weren't for johnson grass, I'd have no grass at all LOL! Feeling your pain.

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  8. I feel your pain. We layered cardboard everywhere, and had most of it blow away in a storm last year. This year we layered cardboard again, and then piled heaps of straw on top of it, and so far it is working really well!

    We just put up a hightunnel, and we were thinking about using some old carpet scraps that we have to put in the pathways. I hope it works!

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  9. Your garden is looking great. I also really like your header picture. Such a nice picture of a little bluebird.

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  10. Mine is so bad I'm ashamed to show anybody, so I'm with you on looks. More frustrating is that Bermuda is invading my permanent beds. I've moved my strawberries every year since we've been here. I really, really hope this works for you. The cardboard as a base is excellent. Landscape cloth and PB mulch didn't work around our almost tree, the bermuda grew right through it. :(

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  11. I kind of did the same thing, only with cedar "playground" chips because I am often barefoot in the garden and can't stand the splinters from the bark :) My whole garden area looks so much neater now with the pathways between the beds covered like this.

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  12. I have used heavy corrugated cardboard and mulch on top to make some of my paths as well. I also got some used roofing rubber epdm. I called a roofing company and they gave it to me free. It is real heavy black rubber and NOTHING can grow through it. It will kill anything you lay it on top of. Then I put mulch on top of it. It will not break down like cardboard.

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