I'm starting a new garden, and was planning on planting largely with gravel on top, with a weed membrane underneath. From looking on other threads I'm starting to think that weed membrane may not be the way to go, although I would still defend gravel (coastal garden so it would look ok I reckon).
So, what are your tips regarding weeding?
I'm not sure I'm dedicated enough for 'little and often'. Should I buy some tools? A hoe? A couple of beds will be too deep to reach the back without standing in them.
Are there any plants that discourage weeds? And in your experience do they work?
One years weed is seven years seed. Weed before the hateful things have finished flowering and gone to seed and you should get there in the end. I find it hard to keep up the weed enthusiasm too. If you can get the roots out then it will help a lot in future years.
If you have a garden you will always have weeds. They get blown in on the wind. Just hoe regularly inbetween all your plants.
Little and often is good, If you can keep a hoe, a hand fork and kneeling mat somewhere handy it's easier to just do a few minutes here and there instead of having big sessions. They do blow in, but you sometimes get bonuses, I've lived in my house for 15 years and never planted a foxglove, but seeds have wafted in from somewhere in the last couple of years and they look amazing.
Get good gloves.
Our new garden has thistles and brambles that are killing my hands!
Little and often is the way I think, particularly through gravel.
Ugh I hate weeds. Good luck!
Do not underestimate the power of the weeds! I have paths that have slate chippings (was the nicest option I could put in for cheap at the time). There is: a thick layer of compacted crusher run (at least 1.5 inches), a layer of high-quality weed sheeting, and a good, deep later of slate. And they STILL find ways of growing there!
There are things you can do to reduce the problem, though. Firstly, if you grow plants quite densely so there isn't much spare soil, you'll reduce the space in which they can germinated (this may take a couple of years when establishing a new garden, but you will get there). Regular mulching is also very labour saving. And, as others have said, staying well on top of things is honestly time-saving in the long run.
Have you seen Beth Chatto's dry garden? It makes great use of gravel.
Thanks all. Judging by the rate of replies so far, this is an emotive subject!
I saw a weeding tool on Amazon that got fantastic reviews, is it worth getting something like that?
Hello holly! Growing plants close together is no problem, I love the crammed in jungly look. The Beth Chatto garden is lovely, particularly the scree garden and the gravel garden. I need to learn more about it though, are the plants planted directly into gravel, or is it normal soil with a gravel on top?
I don't know the specifics for Beth Chatto's garden, but I suspect/guess there is likely to be a big difference between the type of gardening that uses gravel as a kind of inorganic mulch over membrane and the type of scree/gravel gardening she is doing. I suspect that her staff haven't simply covered the soil, but have dug out to a depth of at least a foot, mixed gravel with topsoil/compost/leafmould, and replaced - so essentially, they are engineering the whole of the upper layer to be incredibly free draining. However, I know the soil in her part of the world can be very sandy, so it may not have involved quite so much work as I am suggesting!
The gravel-as-mulch thing would worry me, because if you want to get at the soil to change it, e.g. adding more organic matter, compost, manure etc, then that is a lot more difficult with a weed membrane and gravel down. You would have to lift the lot. The reason this matters particularly is that I suspect it might be quite difficult to achieve the dense, lush, closely-planted effect you're after without adding quite a lot of compost on a regular basis. Yet (depending on the garden, the soil) you won't necessarily have the free-draining soil underneath the gravel and membrane to do scree planting either. You could end up with an unhappy compromise that does neither thing well .
However, I remember you said you're by the coast, so if you do have fiercely free-drained sandy soil naturally, then you might just be able to add to it. It really depends a lot what is there naturally.
I don't know about the others, but I'd say you need to do a lot of weeding when you're establishing a garden, and then all of a sudden plants get to a point/size where you're not having to do as much and you can sit back a bit more and enjoy. Which is nice.
I pray that point won't take too long to arrive!
The soil is heavy, which I think may be due to the house being a newish build, there's lots of rubble etc as well as large clay lumps.
I'm disappointed that as yet nobody has linked to a magic Weed-o-matic that will do the job.
A Wallace and Gromit style weeder-robot would be just the thing!!
Ahhh, if you have rubble plus clay, then I would guess that neither of those methods will work. Instead, I suspect that you may have to invest some time and energy into sorting the soil. Ideally, you'd want to remove most of the rubble, add organic matter (enormous quantities of manure, compost) and possibly gypsum if your clay is heavy. Which means digging/mattocking. (Sorry). If you have clay and it has set, over the summer this may be an even tougher job than in the autumn when the soil is moist. I think I might be tempted to spend the hot days planning and sunbathing and then get cracking in August (if it's wet) or September (if it isn't), ready to plant next spring.
It makes me cross that builders leave gardens in such a state! However, it is more fun than you think when you get started.
Arrgh. I'm naturally lazy and this isn't agreeing with me at all.
For the areas that will be paths, as I'm on a tight budget, I'm considering either deck boards as we have loads of those already, or paving slabs as stepping stones (to be donated by kindly neighbour who wants rid of them). I'm happy for the paths to look relaxed and I'm thinking of planting ground cover plants to mingle between the slabs/boards. Do these type of plants need great soil and do they have deep roots? I can't face de-rubbling the entire garden so was thinking of being lazy in the path areas.
Weeds seem the least of my problems now. At least they'll grow in my rubble infested clay pit.
We have a thick plastic weed membrane, covered with gravel at the front (inherited) and the buggers have actually punctured through!
The difficulty is when you pull them they just snap as you can't get at the roots for the sodding membrane - the back garden has no mbrane but lots of weeds but they just pull out Therapeutic it is too!
Don't have membrane is my advice (but I'm a novice too)
I put in all new paths in the winter but got a digger and did a very deep layer of rubble and then an almost equally deep later of the limestone that was going on top. Under all that was the weed membrane and each later was compacted with a whacker. There's not a weed anywhere on the paths.
And I have a very very weedy garden that I am trying to tame - so I do think if you do enough depth for the paths and membrane at the bottom you should be ok. I think if gravel is only a couple of inches then light can still get through, weeds can still germinate/grow through etc.
And Beth Chatto's gravel garden was - I think - a car park originally. I'm sure they made that bit of the garden from an old parking area.
It's also rot that does it. When leaves fall in the autumn, you have to get them up really quickly, because any decomposition and you start to get enough organic matter for something to land and sprout. Ditto for planting things and dropping soil/compost on the path - I find it next to impossible to plant without doing this! I think across an entire garden, it would be quite difficult to avoid.
Beth Chatto's gravel garden was indeed a car park! Looks a bit different now!! She is a gardening witch (of the best kind) - I love everything she does there.
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.