Is there a time and place for weed barrier in a permaculture-ish yard?
I’ll answer yes, though I’ve never been a fan of using it in the past. If not pulled up in the fall it becomes a ripped-up mess to clean up all over the yard. In permaculture weeds are suppose to be an indicator of the condition of the soil, and give you hints on how to help improve the soil faster (i.e. tilling compacted ground). However, when you’ve been fighting an aggressive weed like bindweed for an entire season, yet the raised bed still looks like this in the spring, you know you have to change tactics or call it a loss for sanity’s sake. Our searches on what this weed is possibly telling us, and ways to reverse the condition, have yielded nothing helpful.
Why go through all this trouble you ask? This raised bed is located close to the house, gets great sunshine, and is close to water. I really don’t want to give it up. The melon plants I put there last year gave a valiant effort to grow and produce, however the bindweed pulled them down, wrapped them up and shaded them out. There was only so much ripping out I could do while trying to not take off leaves or stems. Despite all the pulling and weeding I did last fall, it still looked like this this spring.
Change in Tactics
This year instead of resorting to chemicals, I’ve decided to try covering and blocking the weeds out before it chokes the pepper plants out (and some potato plants probably from missed ones last fall). I laid down 2 sheets of weed barrier with lots of overlap, then cut holes for my plants, put them in, and covered the top with wood chips. That’s it.
So far it has been keeping the weeds down. A few bindweed vines have found their way through the holes cut for the plants, and up the side of the barrier as you can see in the picture, but with a quick tug I’m able to get them out and we’re once again safe from being choked out.
The End Goal
I’m hoping the bindweed roots lose a lot of their growth energy as it tries to grow throughout this season but is unable to get to the sunlight. What I’ve read though says it may take a few seasons of unsuccessful growth before bindweed roots lose enough energy to die off. They can grow to be extremely deep roots!
I hope this gives you an idea of how to beat your garden weeds without resorting to harsh, and unhealthy chemicals.