The Q&A Archives: Replacing plastic and rock

Question: Thirty some years ago, after planting our shrubs, we used plastic covered with rocks to keep the weeds out. It's time to redo the area. We plan to remove the existing, rock wash it down to rid it of dirt and weeds then replace the plastic, return the rock adding some new rock. Should we treat the soil somehow? Any other sugestions?

Answer: The plastic eliminated sunlight and stopped weed seeds from germinating - for an amazing 30 years! But, as it got old it got brittle and when you walked on it, little cracks appeared, which allowed light to reach the soil. That's when weeds begin to grow through the plastic. There's nothing you need to do to the soil prior to replacing the plastic but you might consider using one of the new weed barrier landscape cloths instead. Landscape fabric is a spun polyester and it allows rain to penetrate without allowing sunshine in. I think soil is healthier under weed barrier than it is under plastic. Either product will suppress weeds, though, so the choice is yours. Good luck with your garden!

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