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Use window curtains as temp landspace fabric?

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Jun 14, 2013, 01:37 AM
Use window curtains as temp landspace fabric?
I just renovated my backyard and cutting down tons of trees. Now it's an open area and over months, weeds start growing. I am planning to layout pavers, sods and mulch over the year as long-term project. BUT weeds are growing super fast.

I want to cover the ground temporarily so that weed don't poke through. My garage doesn't have enough cardboard and cardboard while works to prevent weed & cover ground, it does DISAPPEAR after like 2mo.

I found tons of old window curtains. I am wondering if they are good to use as temp ground covering / weed preventer? Is there any health issue?

p.s. Years ago I lay down a piece of wood door to cover some ground to "test" if it works. Guess what, I got tons of termites in my yard all the sudden.

Jun 14, 2013, 01:38 AM
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Jun 14, 2013, 01:39 AM
Here is extra material that I like to utilize

Jun 14, 2013, 10:47 AM
Quanghoc, I would have a few concerns. First, depending on the fabric and its synthetic content, it will either or both quickly become moldy and deteriorate. If I remember you're in California or one of the SW states, with a lot of intense sun that's hard on fabrics.

I think the synthetic will tend to mold and cotton will deteriorate, especially if it's in the sun. Synthetic fabric will also trap moisture underneath, creating an environment susceptible to more mold. That would definitely be a health issue. Fabric can mildew easily even in homes, let alone outside subject to rain and with no ventilation beneath it to dry it out.

When you do have to remove the fabric, it will be a mess. I used to use old sheets to collect and haul neighbors' leaves for my compost pile. One or two seasons of doing this was all the sheets could handle without deteriorating.

The other issue would be a cosmetic one. Depending on where in your yard the fabric would be placed, it might be considered unsightly to neighbors who would call code enforcement and report you.

As to cardboard, it's used in a process gardeners call "lasagna gardening", layered and layered and allowed to deteriorate. Since it's a paper based product, unless it has inked markings, it should theoretically be a natural substance which would enhance your soil.

If it's deteriorating in 2 months, you can add additional layers, as well as grass clippings and leaves over it. They don't deteriorate as quickly as the cardboard apparently does.

If you're short on cardboard boxes, there's a good supply at your local supermarket when the liquor is delivered. When I moved, I got almost all my boxes this way, all for free. You would have to remove any with colored markings on them though.

Another alternative is to just lay out the blue tarps that ACO or ACE have on sale periodically, but again you would have a blue lawn issue which might upset neighbors.

Alternately and probably the easiest is to just plant vining crops and let them act as a ground cover. Vining pumpkins, squash and morning glories can all be used for this purpose. If your pumpkins thrive, the bonus is that you either have pie pumpkins or carving pumpkins. If you have children, this could be their contribution to landscaping, and watching the pumpkins grow is a fun thing for kids to do.

Either way your cost is maybe $5 or more for seeds. At the end of the growing season, just leave the foliage or turn it under to enhance the soil.

Oh, and BTW, don't chip the trees and use fresh tree mulch on the soil as it will deplete nitrogen. I made this mistake and found out the hard way when my perennials turned yellow.

Hope this helps.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: GardenSprite,
Jun 14, 2013, 12:26 PM
On several of the gardening tours, in our SE NEB city, people have used recycled jute back carpet (jute side up) plain or under a dressing of cedar or other mulch. Especially in walkways and paths, it is very long lasting, allows rain/moisture through, and in our area has not caused any mold issues. It is free and available in nearly every neighborhood, as folks remove old carpet.

Do look for jute back, not rubber back if you want moisture to percolate through.
Jun 14, 2013, 12:46 PM
@GardenSprite Yes I live in Seattle and it can get moldy. My yard is like 0.25 acre so neighbor won't see anything behind. But you are right, I saw one curtain got molded even inside the garage over the winter. It's definitely a problem around here.

@Conrad I heard of using carpet. Good idea although I don't know how to hunt down a lot of them (for at least 0.1 acre :P)
Jun 14, 2013, 01:00 PM
I wonder if carpet installers could be of help. They have to dispose of carpet when they replace it; if they have jute backed carpet they might be willing to donate it to you. But it would probably also be quite an effort to contact local carpet installers.

I wonder also if carpet manufactuers (assuming there are any still left in the US) would be willing to donate scrap?

Conrad, is there a source for this in your area, or some kind of coordination of it for recycling?

The other remotely possible alternatives are

a. Advertising for free recycled jute backed carpet on CraigsList; and

b., a nationwide group which recyles whatever its members want to contribute.
shows Seattle area chapters.
Jun 14, 2013, 01:28 PM
I often see it out by the curb (near trash day) in our neighborhood when we walk. But for sure, an ongoing listing on Craig's list could score you some in a short while, in nearly any community. And calling a couple of the carpet stores (that install) should give you some leads also.
I often see people post ads where they will come pick up others bagged grass clippings and also leaves in the fall, to augment soil and use as mulch also.
Jun 14, 2013, 01:32 PM
I use Craigslist alot for gardening but it's hit-and-miss. Sometime others grab things too quick because I am busy at work.

This is my area. Seem there are more Wanted ads though
Jun 14, 2013, 01:52 PM
Conrad, it's reassuring to know that others pick up grass and leaves. I used to be the only one in the neighborhood doing this. I also walked up and down the street and dragged home evergreens when they were put out after Christmas. I know some people couldn't understand why I was going around taking their leaves and trees.

I think Seattle is more recycling conscious than SE Michigan.
Jun 14, 2013, 02:06 PM
It's very "green" here, I heard Wink

So I tried the leaves option and weeds still poke through the thick layer. Stuffs just won't stop growing here & they are resilient...
Jun 14, 2013, 02:36 PM
Originally posted by quanghoc:
It's very "green" here, I heard Wink

So I tried the leaves option and weeds still poke through the thick layer. Stuffs just won't stop growing here & they are resilient...

Yes, I think Seattle is more progressive than SE Michigan in green living. We've been under the influence of the auto monoliths for decades, so that makes a big difference.

Given the tenacity of your weeds, I think I would opt for the aggressive vine solution...use pumpkins or vining squash and cover the area with vines. If I were to plant the seeds in the beginning of June, by mid or late July (rain and sun dependent), they've be closed up enough that only a few weeds could get through.

That's easier than fighting the weeds.