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I have an area of about 650 sq ft that I planted several small trees and about 10 shrubs last year. I put a light amount of mulch in the area but grass has covered most of it back up.

I want to do the mulching properly so I see two options: - remove all of the existing sod and add 4" of planters mix. - put down cardboard / weed barrier on top of the sod and add the 4" of planters mix.

Which one of these will be the least disruptive for the existing plants and or the better long term solution?

  • Are you trying to mulch your plant in or amend the soil? You talked about adding planter mix under it, so I didn't know if you meant to add it in the first place, thought it needed it now, or thought it was part of proper mulching? – Dalton Apr 21 '15 at 19:52
  • I'm honestly not sure what I'm doing. I was going to use planter mix on top because I thought it was a better option for future growth but that may not be the case. I was using mulch and planters mix interchangeably which looks to be a rookie error. – RWL01 Apr 22 '15 at 1:15
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    I'd say planter mix would be growing media and mulch would be anything to retain moisture. If it was me and the mulch you have still looks okay, I'd probably use a spray to kill the grass and then mulch more deeply. They have poisons that work by killing the foliage, thus robbing the plant of the ability to photosynthesis. They won't damage the roots. You should also check out this website 'gardenmyths.com'. They have some interesting articles. They say that cardboard and weed cloth aren't good choices and give what seem like good reasons as to why they feel that way. Good luck. – Dalton Apr 22 '15 at 13:53
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In my humble opinion the cardboard would be better. It'll kill off the grass, decompose fine and it will be much less disruptive to the plants than digging up the soil, which could result in broken roots. As long as you use enough mulch you shouldn't have too bad a problem with grass and weeds coming back up through it.

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    +1 And I'd just add - cardboard (and/or thick newspaper - many sheets thick) good, weed barrier fabric not so good, IMPE. Cardboard should last long enough to kill off the grass, and then rot away. Fabric stays for a long time, and the soil under it does not get much, if any benefit from mulch on top. So I don't think it's good to use for any area with plants. – Ecnerwal Apr 21 '15 at 13:19

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