Homeowner seeks advice after inheriting ‘nightmare’ buried under garden by previous owner: ‘Remove it all now’
Home & Gardening

Homeowner seeks advice after inheriting ‘nightmare’ buried under garden by previous owner: ‘Remove it all now’

A new homeowner, excited about planting a garden in their new yard, was dismayed to find that the previous owners had used thick, plant-smothering plastic sheeting and fabric in every flower bed.

They posted in the subreddit r/gardening to ask for advice on removing the aggravating materials. “Would it be a bad idea to remove the barriers?” they wrote. “I’m pulling weeds anyway, they’re just on top of the barrier so I feel like they aren’t doing much already?”

Commenters were unanimous in their advice. “Remove it all now before it starts to break down and become[s] a nightmare to remove later,” one urged.

“Removing the fabric is better,” another agreed. “It deteriorates starting in 2 or 3 years and becomes very difficult to remove then as it is in shreds. It also doesn’t block weeds but it does make removing weeds more difficult since weed roots wind in and out of the fabric.”

One commenter had inherited a similarly nightmarish situation. 

“Remove it NOW,” they warned. “I did yard work where the previous owner had put that garbage down about five years prior. The plastic not only prevented plants from rooting properly, but it had partially disintegrated so I couldn’t even rip it up in one piece. And when I did rip it up over the course of a few days, the entire yard came with it. … Landscaping plastic can become a nightmare.”

Not only is plastic sheeting and thick fabric a hassle for gardeners, it’s also harmful to the entire local ecosystem. By preventing plants from growing, these materials deprive local pollinators of habitat and food sources — which, in turn, affects the human food chain since pollinators are responsible for a third of the food we eat.

Plastic is also known to leach toxic chemicals into soil, which can harm both the plants that grow there and the animals — and people — who eat them.

🗣️ Which of these benefits is your biggest motivation in gardening?

🔘 Getting outside more 🌱

🔘 Growing healthy food 🥕

🔘 Making my yard beautiful 🏡

🔘 I don’t garden 🚫

🗳️ Click your choice to see results and speak your mind

Fortunately, for gardeners looking to level up their yards, there are many effective, soil-safe and plastic-free methods for managing weeds. From pulling them up by the roots to making a natural homemade herbicide, it’s possible to eradicate weeds while leaving room for native plants — or even a vegetable garden — to thrive.

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