The Q&A Archives: Garden Fabric and rubber mulch

Question: Hello,

I read that you can lay mulch down to prevent weeds in your garden. Do I have to lay garden fabric too or will rubber mulch be enough. I have shrubs and flowers in the garden. I'm assuming that I can use a weed and feed to help prevent weeds if I do not use fabric. Is that accurate?

Answer: Whichever approach you take will work nicely and save you lots of labor down the road. A thick layer of mulch (3-4 inches) will slow or stop weed growth. Any weeds that might pop up will be easy to pull because the roots will be in the mulch rather than in the soil. Weed barrier fabric works much the same way - it excludes light and therefore keeps weed seeds from sprouting. You can use either or both. If you lay weed barrier fabric and then cover it with rubber mulch you will effectively keep weeds from sprouting for many years to come - and you won't need to use weed killers or pre-emergent products. If you use only rubber mulch or only weed barrier you can include a pre-emergent treatment each spring. Preen is one pre-emergent product but there are many on the market. If it were my garden I would lay weed barrier fabric, working it around the existing plants and cutting it so it fits without having to remove the existing plants. Anchor it down with pegs or pins and then cover over the top of the weed barrier with mulch. This way you can still maintain the plants without having to worry about weeding or using a pre-emergent herbicide. Best wishes with your flower beds.

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