The Q&A Archives: Should I keep plastic sheeting around newly planted shrubs or tear out?

Question: I just planted some shrubs (bayburrys, Japanese dwarf junipers, a bird's nest yew and a blue montgomery). I then put plastic sheeting on the ground, all around the plants, as I was having problems with weeds. I am ready to put small rocks down over the plastic, but (as I am new to owning a yard!), I am now reading that plastic sheeting is not a good idea, as it may not allow enough water through to the plant roots. I also have some kind of a pine tree (15 ft tall, with soft needles) that I have also covered in the same area. I gave the tree a collar of dirt around it, with a diameter of 5 feet, with three feet of plastic all around that, but I am afraid I may harm the tree with the plastic. I do not want to mulch it each year, as disposal of old mulch where I live is not easy. What do you recommend? Should I tear the plastic off and start over? Do I need some kind of a sheeting below the rocks- like one that will do a better job of letting water through to the plants? Thank you!

Answer: Experts no longer recommend plastic sheeting. You can read more on the topic at the National Gardening Association's website:

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