OK, so I have 450 sq ft of gardens around my property. The majority of them are around the front and side of my house. Last night I was pulling weeds (altho, it felt like I was pulling a jungle of bamboo shoots due to all of the rain we've been getting) and realized I need to put down a 'weed blocker' of some sort. I was talking to a co-worker about it and she said that her dad used to put down plastic garbage bags instead. I thought this would be a great alternative to BUYING the garden cloth. Has anyone ever done this? Does it work? What are the pros/cons to doing it?
I definitely wouldn't recommend that...I'm personally not a huge fan of the weed cloth in garden beds either, but at least it allows air and water to pass through. The plastic will block air and water from getting into the soil so definitely not a good idea. The only time it would be OK is if you're at the stage where you're trying to kill everything in the bed--you could put it over the bed for a while to kill all the weeds underneath, then remove it before you plant things (but even in that case, I'd suggest a better approach would be using newspapers to smother the weeds instead, then you can plant right through them so it's less work for you)
Its quite expensive still but how about mulching? I put down bark chippings on a lot of my garden, it is quite effective at reducing the amount of weeds but like I say it can be expensive.
The other tack I've used in places is planting loads of ground cover plants like sedum, they cover the ground and leave less space for the weeds, and the weeds don't stand out as much when they do grow.
Regardless of whether they use weed fabric, newspapers, etc most people put mulch on top (particularly with newspaper--otherwise it blows away!) It's fine to use mulch by itself too (that's what I usually do) but you will get a bit better weed control if you have newspaper or something underneath.
i use a three inch layer of wood chips on the paths in my garden and it really works, nothing underneath. no weeds for a year! but it has to be thick at least two inches and if you want to plant later on you'd probably need to scrape it off. Good luck. We got the chips free when they cut down a maple next door.
In the paths and areas that I am not adding plants to, I use old carpet with mulch on top.
I have been using the carpet for years. Its free, it lets water and air through and stops the weeds alot better than where I have the weed block. It also lasts a very long time.
I also use thin strips of carpet in the walking area of my veggie garden. Keeps the weeds down and its easy to roll up in spring to till.
I started several new beds this year. One I had planted full of flowers BEFORE I did any weed prevention. Someone here at DG told me to use Wet Newspaper. I followed their instructions...making sure to wet the newspaper and making sure to layer the paper with at least 4-5 pieces of paper...one on top of the other.
When I got to my little rose bed I was almost out of newspaper. I went inside and got a roll of garbage bags. I staked the bags down around the rose bushes...leaving several inches uncovered around the actual bush itself.
Afterwards I mulched all the beds.
I have to say that the beds with the newspapers do have 'some' weeds coming through but they are easily controlled. The bed with the garbage bags has no weeds at all.
After reading some of your comments...I may have killed my rosebushes...but hopefully not since I left them plenty of room for growing and I always water down in that non-plastic covered hole around them.
I would probably get in there and remove the black plastic if I were you--the rose will probably be fine for now since you can water in the non-plastic covered area, but as the roots grow and spread it'll become harder to get the whole root zone wet. And the soil underneath the black plastic won't be healthy since it doesn't get air and water.