Using mulch to control weeds

Weed control the easy way

Autumn mulching – in the picture below one side of the plot  is covered with cardboard and straw and the other is 5 metre wide black weed control fabric. Lay this on the ground on top of weeds and leave it for several months. Put heavy bags – e.g. bags of weeds on top of the fabric to prevent it blowing away!

The weeds die because there is no light and the worms will turn the dead weeds into “compost”.

You can buy 100gsm black weed control fabric using Amazon or other internet shops.

5 metre wide fabric is ideal for the width of a small plot.


The traditional approach..

The plot below looks good in April. It was dug in the Autumn/Winter then rotovated in April. However, it will soon be a forest of weeds in June unless hoed weekly. The soil dries out and so a lot of rain or watering is needed.


Less effort needed with mulching…

The plot below was not dug but covered in fabric in the Autumn. This is very low effort. From early Spring the fabric is being gradually rolled up and the weed-free soil is raked and seeds/potatoes/plants planted. No digging needed.  This keeps the soil moist and protected. Note the use of 2 litre plastic drink bottles filled with water to weigh down the fabric and prevent it blowing away. The water can be used later in the year on plants if there is a drought.

fabric in April

The plot below was also covered with fabric in the winter. From March the fabric has been rolled up at the far end and beds prepared. Scroll down for a closer look at the beds. Some are covered with straw, others have been lightly dug and planted with onions. In the foreground the black fabric is still preventing any weeds growing and keeping the soil moist. It can be easily rolled back a bit at a time whenever it is time to plant the next crops.reveal the soil

cleared for bedsonions planted

A biodegradable mulch

Another approach is to use cardboard and wood chips mulch during winter. This patch was covered in weeds, but there is no need to dig or spray weedkiller. The weeds are dead because of the thick mulch and have become compost (worm food) The plot is ready ready to plant later in the Spring. Plants can be planted straight through the mulch and will have moist soil in the worst of droughts, so no digging, no weeding and and no watering.

woodchip mulch

A less satisfactory mulch – but still easier than digging and weeding

The plot below was mulched in winter with black plastic on one piece and cardboard on another. The plastic clears the weeds but does not let rain through; see the puddle. The cardboard is not as good on its own as when it is covered with straw etc as it easily tears and blows away in windy weather such as winter storms.

plastic or card

Contact us if you have any other suggestions about no-dig gardening or mulching.