Saturday, March 12, 2011

MWF seeking advice from Blogger population

I have a reasonably well-established garden in the back of our little lot.  (This is not to say that I will not utterly upend that at some point, but for now, this is what I'm working with.)  I've got the beds pretty well under control, vis-a-vis weeds, but the paths.  Oh my lord the paths.  Nothing I do seems to get rid of the crabgrass in the paths, which leads to, well, a messy-looking garden (and it does re-seed the beds, of course).  I keep seeing all of these gorgeous pictures of weed-free organic garden paths, and I'm dumbstruck. 

Some prior attempts:

  • Just walking all over it (TOTAL fail)
  • mulch (partial fail)
  • newspaper and mulch (pretty good, but weeds grew back)
  • landscaping fabric (worked, but only did a small portion)
My thinking this year will be to let the chickens at it, keeping the beds themselves covered in bird netting to protect the plants.  I tend to not get ginormic projects like landscape-fabric-ing then mulching the entire garden, but maybe that's the direction I should go in. 

At any rate, I am actively seeking advice from y'all.  What do you do/have you done that works?  Or doesn't work (so that I don't waste my time)?  If you have suggestions for my herb garden, that would be nice, too.  There, I'm actually thinking about doing two layers of cardboard, landscape fabric over that, then pea gravel (I tried one layer of cardboard and mulch, and the *@$#^$ star of bethlehem grew STRAIGHT THROUGH IT).


  1. Leigh at 5 Acres & a Dream is combating weed problems too: (

    My raised bed garden area has commercial grade landscape fabric. I'm experimenting today with cardboard (lasgana gardening)in the new herb garden I'm laying out.

  2. I'm terrible, I just pull by hand if I get it small enough, I hoe it if it's like a foot or taller. I have yet to find any mulch that tames the heavy duty rhizome grasses. Probably not what you wanted to hear. :-P

  3. I use burlap coffee sacks. I lay them out on the entire garden for mulch, and a double layer on the paths. Sometimes weeds grow through, but I've never had too many. It takes a bunch, but I get them for free. If you have a coffee roaster in your town, you can go ask if they have some.

    ~Brian R.

  4. Hmm... why yes, I *do* have a coffee roaster friend in town. Thank you for the suggestion!

  5. I use 12" of road base for my paths, thus eliminating the need for sides on my raised beds. The only weeds that grow do so from seeds blown in and are pretty easy to remove. I'm also going to try corn gluten meal which I've already sprinkled on my brick sidewalk. It keeps seeds from germinating, though once they germinate it acts like a fertilizer (9-0-0) so you have to get all the existing weeds out before you apply it.

  6. Two things have worked for me thus far: raising the beds with board sides (make sure the dirt is at least 8" deep and free of rhizomes) - this keeps rhizomes out except for the corners, but you only have to deal with them every couple years. Or, get rid of the paths. Sheet mulch the entire garden with cardboard and 12" of soil, manure, etc. Tromp down and mulch the paths. Basically, I've never removed weeds; I've smothered them and reduced edge area. (Rob One Straw did this in his garden last fall - edge was killing him.)

  7. I'm not sure if you'd be able to manoeuvre it around the area but, if you are going to let your chickens peck away while trying to protect certain plants, have you considered a chicken tractor?