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Homeowner warned against using common weed prevention method in garden: 'It's bad for your soil and a pain to remove'

"[It's] going to be a headache."

"[It's] going to be a headache."

Photo Credit: iStock

Weeds can be a real hassle. They easily invade lawns and gardens and often prove incredibly stubborn to remove. While there are plenty of ways to tackle them, many methods are ineffective, unsafe, and more trouble than they're worth. 

A Reddit user took to r/gardening for suggestions on weed prevention before trying a common method, saying: "Have a garden with a bunch of [tiny] weeds all over. Can I just cover with the black paper stuff, or must I dig up weeds before mulching?"

The "black paper stuff" they referred to is landscaping fabric, and commenters urged the user not to use it. 

"Don't use landscaping fabric," one said. "It's bad for your soil and a pain to remove. Just use a nice thick layer of mulch."

"Use cardboard please," another requested. "Removing the fabric is eventually going to be a headache for someone else."

Landscaping fabric is a thin layer of material, usually plastic, polyester, or linen, sometimes used to prevent weeds from growing. While it may have some success, that will be short-lived and come with a number of consequences. 

The fabric may last only a few years before it needs to be replaced, and when the time comes to remove it, the fabric may have deteriorated or broken down, making it difficult to get out all the pieces. 

Roots growing into the fabric can add to the headache of removal. Additionally, depending on the material, landscaping fabric can leach chemicals such as petroleum into your soil, negatively affecting the quality and potentially endangering your plants. 

Instead of landscaping fabric, consider alternatives such as cardboard, wood chips, or newspaper. As for removing those pesky weeds, there are many nontoxic options, including sawdust and boiling water. These are cheaper, safer, and greener for you and your garden.

The commenters were very opposed to landscaping fabric, and the original poster decided to pursue eco-friendly alternatives.

They said they "never realized it was made with plastic" and "will use what cardboard I have, thanks for the tip to wet it down. Great idea!"

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