|Aged mulch of coarse home compost Category:Compost (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Last week I told you about using plastic bags as a landscaping cloth.
There is a better alternative that will save you money and in the end is better for the environment and your garden.
It's commonly referred to as the lasagna method. Cover the ground with carboard, preferably the single layer stuff like a cereal box then cover the cardboard with 2 or 3 inches coarse organic mulch such as wood chips or bark. Layers of newspaper will also work. This will last about a year. To continue, simply add another layer of cardboard and another 2" coarse mulch. The organic materials will gradually decompose and enrich the soil while feeding your plants. A good mulch will let water percolate down, slowly decompose to improve the soil, and prevent weeds from sprouting.
The point of mulch is to prevent light from reaching the soil -- light activates the weed growth. That's why you lay a solid mass of paper or cardboardover the soil. Bark and wood chips are slow to decompose, thus lasting for about a year. Shredded dry leaves will usually decompose in 6 to 9 months.
The occasional wind-blown seed will take root on top of the mulch but young weeds are easy to pull up.