Thu March 17, 2011
Garden Report

Steel Edging and Fabric Weed Barrier Don't Work

We spent an afternoon tearing out hundreds of feet of steel grass edging.  It was the high end, good stuff.  But it still sliced the owner’s dog’s foot.

Steel edging is an accident waiting to happen.  It’s only a matter of time before you, your child or your pet cut themselves on the stuff.  The only bright spot is in the heat of summer the edging gets so hot it cauterizes the wound.  And what does the protective edging cap protect from?  It isn’t going to protect a running, tackling, falling kid from injury.

The four inch deep steel grass edging doesn’t work.  It doesn’t stop grass from growing into shrub or flower beds.  It just makes the grass that grows over, under and around the edging harder to get out of the bed.  If you have to weed the grass out around the edging, then why have edging at all?

A sharp, square bladed shovel can cut an edge between a bed and the grass.  Be aware of sprinklers, invisible dog fences and cable lines whenever you’re digging into the ground.  There are power tools to make the job faster and easier.  A little bit of work three or four times a season keeps your bed lines neat and your yard safer.

Then there’s weed barrier fabric.  Back in the day we used black plastic to make a barrier between the soil and the rest of the garden.  Now we use high-tech fabrics that are suppose to let air and water into the soil but keep weeds out.  The fabrics don’t work well either. 

Holes are cut into the fabric to let landscape plants grow.  Weeds find those holes too.  We cover the fabric with mulch because groundcover plants won’t grow on top of the fabric.  Dirt and weed seeds blow into the much and create a great germination combination.  Perennial weeds send roots right through the fabric and become almost impossible to extricate. 

The barrier fabric is a barrier to building your garden soil.  You can’t add any organic matter once the fabric is laid.  Three or four inches of organic mulch will keep most weeds to a minimum.  With regular maintenance, other weeds can be pulled or eradicated.  As the organic mulch breaks down, it adds to and builds the soil. 

In my opinion, instead of spending money on steel grass edging and weed barrier fabric buy a power edger, some neat plants, more efficient sprinkler heads or some relaxing garden furniture.


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