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View Full Version : Bed Prep for Mulch Question? How to do it Chemical free


GreenGiant94
01-11-2012, 11:08 PM
If you guys are doing a mulch job, how do you go about with bed prep with weeds? If you don't have a pesticide licenses then you cant treat it with anything correct? So do you pull the weeds and till up the bed and hope the layer of mulch will cut down on the amount of weeds that will come up? Do you guys that dont have a license dont mess with bed work and mulch? Do you hire some other company to do the treatment for you? So my question is if you dont do chemical treatments, is there a way to do quality bed prep work that will look good and last weeks after. Thanks

Smallaxe
01-12-2012, 12:17 AM
Time of year is important in the strategy... I started b4 anyone ever heard of preen, or irrigation in the landscape for that matter...

Cleaning out a bed in early Spring means taking out perennial roots and mulching the bed and keeping the surface dry, so seeds are not encouraged...

Mid-Summer cleaning means getting rid of weeds b4 they go to seed along with any perennial roots... then keeping the surface dry so as not to encourage seed germination...

Dr.NewEarth
01-12-2012, 01:33 PM
You can weed wack every-thing down to the ground. Pull out the perennials or try putting a piece of cardboard over each of them. Make sure the perimeter of the garden is weeded pretty well, to a distance of a few inches from the edges.

Then lay out landscape fabric, overlap the pieces. Cut out where the plants grow through with scissors. Then pin it down with nails or rocks. Don't let it wrinkle up in the wind-keep it flat and smooth.
Finally lay two to three inches of bark mulch over that. Keep the mulch off of the trunks of the plants.

The fabric allows the water to permeate to the plants, while it chokes out the weeds because it doesn't allow sunlight through. This method works great and is recommended in the British Columbia Landscape Standard. (now 10 people will say I'm wrong. hahaha)

ralph02813
01-12-2012, 02:18 PM
Time of year is important in the strategy... I started b4 anyone ever heard of preen, or irrigation in the landscape for that matter...

Cleaning out a bed in early Spring means taking out perennial roots and mulching the bed and keeping the surface dry, so seeds are not encouraged...

Mid-Summer cleaning means getting rid of weeds b4 they go to seed along with any perennial roots... then keeping the surface dry so as not to encourage seed germination...

Why would you take out the perennial roots

Dr.NewEarth
01-12-2012, 02:28 PM
Things like dandelions and plantain will keep growing and reaching for the sun, right through the mulch unless you stop them some-how. Pulling out as much root as possible will lessen their energy reserve and control their growth.

ralph02813
01-12-2012, 02:35 PM
Things like dandelions and plantain will keep growing and reaching for the sun, right through the mulch unless you stop them some-how. Pulling out as much root as possible will lessen their energy reserve and control their growth.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAhhhhhhhhhh perennial weeds gotcha now!:waving:

GreenGiant94
01-12-2012, 02:44 PM
Ok great guys thanks for the info so far! I wasnt sure if I was going to get many replies so this is great. Thanks

ralph02813
01-12-2012, 02:48 PM
If you guys are doing a mulch job, how do you go about with bed prep with weeds? If you don't have a pesticide licenses then you cant treat it with anything correct? So do you pull the weeds and till up the bed and hope the layer of mulch will cut down on the amount of weeds that will come up? Do you guys that dont have a license dont mess with bed work and mulch? Do you hire some other company to do the treatment for you? So my question is if you dont do chemical treatments, is there a way to do quality bed prep work that will look good and last weeks after. Thanks

You are right, you can't use preen or like products if you are not registered in most places - that in it self is a good reason to get certified.
Start clean your beds early as other have said that is key and take your time

GreenGiant94
01-12-2012, 02:51 PM
You can weed wack every-thing down to the ground. Pull out the perennials or try putting a piece of cardboard over each of them. Make sure the perimeter of the garden is weeded pretty well, to a distance of a few inches from the edges.

Then lay out landscape fabric, overlap the pieces. Cut out where the plants grow through with scissors. Then pin it down with nails or rocks. Don't let it wrinkle up in the wind-keep it flat and smooth.
Finally lay two to three inches of bark mulch over that. Keep the mulch off of the trunks of the plants.

The fabric allows the water to permeate to the plants, while it chokes out the weeds because it doesn't allow sunlight through. This method works great and is recommended in the British Columbia Landscape Standard. (now 10 people will say I'm wrong. hahaha)

Is there a special landscape fabric you prefer or just anyone will do? Ive just heard some mixed reviews about how the fabric works and didn't know if there were different ones to choose from. Also do all of them have the same darkening to keep the sun light or or is that something that is special on certain rolls? Dont get me wrong, I really appreciate the help just trying to clarify. Thanks

ralph02813
01-12-2012, 02:53 PM
Is there a special landscape fabric you prefer or just anyone will do? Ive just heard some mixed reviews about how the fabric works and didn't know if there were different ones to choose from. Also do all of them have the same darkening to keep the sun light or or is that something that is special on certain rolls? Dont get me wrong, I really appreciate the help just trying to clarify. Thanks

I am not a fabric fan, I just tend to do a really good job clean out the gardens if you use fabric, you need to take the extra care to do it right.

GreenGiant94
01-12-2012, 02:58 PM
I am not a fabric fan, I just tend to do a really good job clean out the gardens if you use fabric, you need to take the extra care to do it right.

Ok. What do you do for cleaning out the beds? Do you use spray because your certified or do you hand pull the weeds?

ralph02813
01-12-2012, 03:06 PM
Ok. What do you do for cleaning out the beds? Do you use spray because your certified or do you hand pull the weeds?

I pull out all the weeds and as much of the root as human possible, then I put a pre emergent between perennial plants, mulch and the a tad more pre emergent. That seems to work for me. Also, if anything pops up while I am at the customers I will grab it. All my customers are full service, I try to get the gardens recut and mulched before I need to mow, every week I maintain the garden edge with a weed whacker - then it stays nice and crisp.
I would say I spend extra time at almost every customer every week doing something.

Dr.NewEarth
01-12-2012, 03:21 PM
The fabric colour doesn't really matter. There are many types out there. Some are thicker and will last longer.

Generally they last about five years before they decompose. The key is to keep topping up the bark mulch on a regular basis. That's what looks best and keeps the majority of weeds away.

That being said, as mulch decomposes it depletes nitrogen. That can present a problem with nitrogen fixing weeds such as clover and buttercup that may show up eventually. You should monitor the plants for nutrient and health problems and fertilize the plants.

cpllawncare
01-12-2012, 06:10 PM
is it possible to just spray the beds with gly wait a few days then till then spray with pre e then mulch? I had a thread about this a few weeks back but it never really was made clear as to the best method.

KeystoneLawn&Landscaping
01-12-2012, 06:40 PM
When doing a bed that has many weeds, we quote to pull the weeds. Before putting the mulch down I spray glysophate. I have found that spraying kills whatever hand pulling didn't completely get. I will also stop at the location a few weeks later and spray anything coming through the mulch. That second stop usually only takes a few minutes and customers love the fact I will stop back. Great selling point. My process will keep the beds almost weed free the remainder of the season.

Dr.NewEarth
01-12-2012, 07:46 PM
is it possible to just spray the beds with gly wait a few days then till then spray with pre e then mulch? I had a thread about this a few weeks back but it never really was made clear as to the best method.

Glyphosates are inactive once the temperatures are below 70 ferenheit. The op wanted a non-toxic solution.:drinkup:

andersman02
01-23-2012, 09:44 PM
depending on the size of the job, a sod cutter may not be a bad thing to rent, if its a smaller bed hand pulling may be the only option

We do not use fabrics for mulch, reason being is plants will not grow without sunlight as we all know. so and adequate first layer of mulch (4-6") will choke out the weeds, we hand pull any larger ones that may pop through. Weed seeds will also grow on the mulch and often punch through the fabric if taprooted, making it hell when cleaning out the bed in years to come. Also it is hell to install new plants and dig at all with fabric. On top of that we dont like putting things in the lawn that are not natural and wont decompose. There may be some fabrics out there that work but we dont use them.

Again we use 4-6" of mulch the first time, 3-4" every few years after. Just remember this.....mulch is going to decompose into organic matter and turn into growing media SO if using fabric, youll end up having a soil/fabric/soil sandwhich on your hands in the long run.

Also depending on what the planting bed is like, we may mow or weed whip as low as we can

just my 2 cents

vtkish7
04-07-2012, 10:58 AM
Hey guys sorry to dig up this thread but I'm wondering if something I recently heard could be a viable alternative to the landscape cloth everyone seems to hate for anything but rock/gravel. I've heard newspaper works pretty well to keep weeds at bay beneath mulch, is easy to plant through, and decomposes within about 3 years. Anyone had experience with this? Recommended?

White Gardens
04-07-2012, 11:14 AM
Hey guys sorry to dig up this thread but I'm wondering if something I recently heard could be a viable alternative to the landscape cloth everyone seems to hate for anything but rock/gravel. I've heard newspaper works pretty well to keep weeds at bay beneath mulch, is easy to plant through, and decomposes within about 3 years. Anyone had experience with this? Recommended?

Use it in my garden. Works really well.

The only problem I see with it in a residential/commercial mulch job is that your customers might think it's tacky if they aren't on board with the newspaper. Especially if your mulch moves at all and the newspaper starts to show.

We offer a two year mulch cylce for people, so the newspaper or fabric does not work for what we do. Basically we install a heavy but reasonable layer of mulch one year, then the following year we till and turn the mulch for 1/4 the price of new. Then on the third year the process starts over again.

So, with our program, any fabric or barrier gets in the way of the tilling process to help the mulch break down.

...

Duekster
04-07-2012, 12:25 PM
1 plus on the weed fabric. When using wood mulch the concept is for the wood to decomp and build the bed soil. Fabric cloth and news paper stops / slows this process. You need 3 to 4 inches of mulch to stop most weed grows.

You need to clean the bed and till the bed to get rid of the weeds. A soft fluff soil will make future weed pulling easy. It is an on-going thing.


Love Fabric for Rock Gardens and Xeriscapes in Texas.

vtkish7
04-07-2012, 12:56 PM
Obviously I'd be sure to consult him prior to installation but he had made a request along the lines of landscape fabric being installed. I just wanted to check alternatives. Thanks guys! Plus his beds are in dire need so I think I'll easily be installing 3-4 inches fabric or not.

Duekster
04-07-2012, 01:02 PM
Obviously I'd be sure to consult him prior to installation but he had made a request along the lines of landscape fabric being installed. I just wanted to check alternatives. Thanks guys! Plus his beds are in dire need so I think I'll easily be installing 3-4 inches fabric or not.

I would not recommend fabric and I would tell the client why. If they insist then get the heavy fabric and charge according. Then you can use less mulch.

Best to just use 4" of mulch, it is cheap. I have a licenses and rarely use barricade or any other pre-em on beds around annuals. Established shrubs and trees maybe.

vtkish7
04-07-2012, 01:04 PM
Sounds good, he's been pretty receptive in the past so hopefully I can do this fabric-free. I appreciate the help duekster

Duekster
04-07-2012, 01:24 PM
Do you have a creeping grass like Bermuda up there? That is the worst weed in the world around here.

It comes up under metal edging.

Weed seeds can lay dormant for a few years. Expect a flush of growth after disturbing the soil. In this case Newspaper could be good. It eventually breaks down.

vtkish7
04-07-2012, 01:29 PM
Mainly fescue. This guy is treated by TruGreen as I'm not a licensed chemical applicator in Virginia so his property looks very nice in addition to my own services. I couldn't imagine mowing bermuda day in and day out. I really dislike the lack of striping you can do and how sparse the growth sometimes seems to be. However, I don't really see a lot of it so I may be incorrect to a degree.

White Gardens
04-07-2012, 05:34 PM
I would not recommend fabric and I would tell the client why. If they insist then get the heavy fabric and charge according. Then you can use less mulch.

Best to just use 4" of mulch, it is cheap. I have a licenses and rarely use barricade or any other pre-em on beds around annuals. Established shrubs and trees maybe.

I try to stay away from the pre-em, but the last few years I've been dealing with some properties that were let go to seed on just every weed imaginable.

If I can get to the point with these beds, then I'll back off and go with the natural protection of mulch over using chems.

Duekster
04-07-2012, 05:42 PM
I try to stay away from the pre-em, but the last few years I've been dealing with some properties that were let go to seed on just every weed imaginable.

If I can get to the point with these beds, then I'll back off and go with the natural protection of mulch over using chems.

I have also had beds that ran along I black iron fence and other side was a low maintenance area. Each is case is different.