Suppressing weeds with carpet

by Jane Moore

Along with the sap rising, the birds cavorting and my enthusiasm surging, the weeds are growing with a vengeance.

Supressing weeds with carpetAlong with the sap rising, the birds cavorting and my enthusiasm surging, the weeds are growing with a vengeance. This February has been a month of weeding on my allotment and - I'm delighted to say - the plot has never looked this good so early in the season.

There are still some clumps of hairy bittercress, fresh new dandelions already sporting flower buds and a few docks looking obscenely lush and healthy. But their days are numbered.

I've been systematically working my way around the plot, starting with 'the far end'; a muddy, ill-defined area that's rife with bindweed and pieces of disintegrating old carpet. I rarely cultivate it as it's so difficult and weedy. By comparison, my raised beds are a sheer delight to cultivate. It takes no time at all to weed nicely contained beds where the soil is lovely and light, and I barely even get muddy.

Laying carpet at the far end was a big mistake. I initially laid it over the soil to suppress weed growth, with the view to digging the area over later on. But now the weeds have grown through the carpet and it falls apart as soon as I try to pull it up. I won't do that again. I pull up a piece every time I go to the plot, but it's taking me ages and hurts my back. What's more, the carpet comes up in great long strips, leaving fibres and stringy nylon in the soil, which trip me up. I used good quality wool carpet but it still has nylon in the weave and I dread to think about the chemicals the dyes contain.

My advice to anyone considering using carpet to deal with a large area of weeds is to use it for a year to get yourself started. But don't leave it there for any longer or you'll end up with the same problem a few years down the line.

I've now almost got rid of the carpet at the far end, and I've been through the raspberry canes, forking out dandelions and couch grass as best I can. It all looks great. I've also forked over under the currant bushes in preparation for a lovely top dressing of blood, fish and bone and home-made compost - what a treat those bushes are going to get this weekend.

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Gardeners' World Web User 05/03/2008 at 23:39

I totally agree about not using carpet. It seems very popular on my allotment site, but I am still digging it up! We put down some systemic weedkiller last year to try to kill the brambles and I only now realise why they had not been killed off. It had to get through carpet (under grass and brambles) which had obviously been there for years and years! I used black plastic over the winter on my raised beds to suppress the weeds and this has been very effective.

Gardeners' World Web User 05/03/2008 at 23:59

I wish i was as organised as you!

Gardeners' World Web User 31/03/2008 at 19:02

I'm in a quandry now!!! Putting down carpet along the paths was going to be my Easter holiday job tomorrow!!! We have a lovely school garden, and a side "leg" that we have cultivated as an allotment, with 2 greenhouses, a long raised vegetable bed, a smaller raised herb bed and 2 compost bins, along with fruit trees/canes etc. The paths around the raised beds are slightly sloped, muddy and slippery, and our cookery students (bringing peelings after their lesson for the compost heap) have been complaining!!!

I felt that carpet and bark chippings would do a great job, whilst also keeping the brambles and stingers that used to live in the area at bay. I wonder what to do now!!! Perhaps, as per previous postings, I should try it for a year and see how we go. I suppose I won't be cultivating the paths, so I won't be needing to remove the carpets in the future.

As a separate piece of info, this weekend I removed some weed-suppressing-membrane from my home garden that has been in situ for 8 years under my son's climbing frame. This has not disintegrated or torn, and I will be using it in the school garden with the carpet. It certainly worked 100% as I originally laid it directly on top of lawn, grass & dandelions to boot. Nothing came through, and it did not get waterlogged at all. Perhaps this is the answer to my own question!!!!

Gardeners' World Web User 16/10/2010 at 16:09

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Gardeners' World Web User 28/11/2011 at 18:31

On our allotment we have been told that the council has banned the use of carpet to suppress weeds as it is a possible environmental hazard. I don't know how valid this is.