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Builder's paper instead of cardboard

 
Todd Parr
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Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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Has anyone tried builder's paper instead of cardboard as your "kill layer"? I have lots of quack grass and weeds, so I need something that will last long enough to kill off the quack grass. Cardboard works as long as it's overlapped a lot, but for the cost, builder's paper would save me a lot of time and effort finding cardboard, peeling tape, removing staples, etc. I could just unroll it and start covering it. Anyone have experience with this?
 
chip sanft
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Location: 18 acres & heart in zone 4 (central MN). Current abode: Knoxville (zone 6 /7)
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Builder's paper is cheap and its seamlessness would be convenient. But I wonder what all is in there in terms of preservatives, anti-molding agents, etc. If it's imported, depending on source there might be some real poisons in there. Same for cardboard, I guess, but at least cardboard is free. And while North American made cardboard isn't necessarily poison-free, you'd at least have some idea of what's in there.
 
Cristo Balete
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The idea behind cardboard is that it blocks out the light, but with builder's paper I doubt you'd get the same effect. I've tried large sheets of plywood and that didn't work.

Quack grass is going to take a lot more than that. I once saw it come up at the side of a 20 foot cement pad, go straight across it and latch onto the dirt on the other side. I've tried large sheets of plywood and that didn't work. When I've had to remove it, it's been by deep shoveling and lifting, not snapping, the white roots and escorting the long chunks off the property. I'm not sure it ever goes away without a serious spray, which I know we want to avoid.

 
Todd Parr
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Cristo Balete wrote:The idea behind cardboard is that it blocks out the light, but with builder's paper I doubt you'd get the same effect. I've tried large sheets of plywood and that didn't work.

Quack grass is going to take a lot more than that. I once saw it come up at the side of a 20 foot cement pad, go straight across it and latch onto the dirt on the other side. I've tried large sheets of plywood and that didn't work. When I've had to remove it, it's been by deep shoveling and lifting, not snapping, the white roots and escorting the long chunks off the property. I'm not sure it ever goes away without a serious spray, which I know we want to avoid.



I have killed large areas of quack with black rubber roofing material. You have to leave it in place for a long time until every last trace of it is dead. I think part of the reason it can't travel more than a couple of feet under the rubber is that it gets hot enough to "cook" it. I have more than 40,000 square ft of it in place now. The two problems with doing it that way are a) it takes a long time, and b) I'm out of rubber sheeting. I was hoping that builder's paper with 6 inches or so of mulch over it would work, but I'm not sure.
 
Todd Parr
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chip sanft wrote:Builder's paper is cheap and its seamlessness would be convenient. But I wonder what all is in there in terms of preservatives, anti-molding agents, etc. If it's imported, depending on source there might be some real poisons in there. Same for cardboard, I guess, but at least cardboard is free. And while North American made cardboard isn't necessarily poison-free, you'd at least have some idea of what's in there.


According to Home Depot's site (for what it's worth) it's "biodegradable and ideal for garden weed control"
 
Cristo Balete
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I can't help but think that 40,000 sf of black rubber is going to mess with your ecological balance there. It's cutting off the interaction between soil health, soil creatures and air creatures. If rubber sheeting worked, you wouldn't need it anymore, would you? The "immune system" nature puts into place in a natural/organic/Permaculture system can't function with a rubber barrier. Even cardboard eventually breaks down and is out of the loop.

The single focus on just quack grass takes away our seeing the bigger picture. I am in a rural location where there are nothing but weeds, a huge biodiversity of healthy weeds, which is how we should look at weeds. I mow them, mulch thickly with them, and use them as a crucial element of soil health improvement, worm habitat, beneficial insect habitat, wild bird habitat.

Trying to eliminate all weeds is going to destroy your permaculture system.

Yes, quack grass needs attacking, but there are more healthy ways to do it, which are in multiple threads here.



 
Todd Parr
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Cristo Balete wrote:I can't help but think that 40,000 sf of black rubber is going to mess with your ecological balance there. It's cutting off the interaction between soil health, soil creatures and air creatures. If rubber sheeting worked, you wouldn't need it anymore, would you? The "immune system" nature puts into place in a natural/organic/Permaculture system can't function with a rubber barrier. Even cardboard eventually breaks down and is out of the loop.

The single focus on just quack grass takes away our seeing the bigger picture. I am in a rural location where there are nothing but weeds, a huge biodiversity of healthy weeds, which is how we should look at weeds. I mow them, mulch thickly with them, and use them as a crucial element of soil health improvement, worm habitat, beneficial insect habitat, wild bird habitat.

Trying to eliminate all weeds is going to destroy your permaculture system.

Yes, quack grass needs attacking, but there are more healthy ways to do it, which are in multiple threads here.


First things first, the amount I have down right now is about 4,000 sq ft, 40,000 was a typo. That said...

I would love to see these "more healthy ways" to get rid of quack grass, especially considering you just got done saying pieces of plywood and 20ft concrete pads don't work.

The rubber does cut off the interaction between soil health, soil creatures, and air. That's exactly why it does work. I'm not sure where the part came from about "if it worked, you wouldn't need it anymore" came from. You understand that I don't put it down and leave it forever right? I put it down until the quack is dead, and then I move it and plant the area, and move on to the next piece. There is also an enormous difference between a huge biodiversity of weeds and an expanse of quack grass that over-runs everything you plant in it.
 
Cristo Balete
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Yeah, quack grass sucks, absolutely. Your initial post said "quack grass and weeds" as if all the rest of the weeds need to be killed as well. I am just not a proponent of killing weeds. Not everyone agrees with that, but I've been in the midst of my millions of weeds for 25 years and everything looks pretty healthy to me.

I didn't mean that a concrete pad was a solution. It's just that the quack grass is such an adversary it can grow that far without even touching the ground.

And no, I didn't know you only left it down temporarily. Your description sounded like you left the rubber there because you said you were running out of rubber.

Or does the quack grass come back eventually even after being cooked out with the rubber sheeting? Which would imply it's not really being killed, it's just going dormant for the winter?

A search on this website will get you many ways to go after the quack grass, and it may take two or three methods at once to actually have an effect. Some ways may work in one part of the country, and not in others. Like I said, the only way I've been able to back it off is to lift it in shovelfuls, carefully pulling the roots out of the soil. I know that doesn't sound efficient over a big area, but it's like the tortoise and the hare, slow and steady does it.

Maybe a quack grass party, 10 people, each brings a shovel, and you provide the 6-packs.

 
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