Review: Biodegradable Weed Mats for Mulching Tomatoes

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Biodegradable weed mats are sheets of heavy recycled paper that are placed in a garden as a weed barrier.

Weed mats are made of variety of materials which each have differing advantages. Woven weed mats are long-lasting, durable, and re-usable. On the other hand, the biodegradable types are completely “green” and can be tilled into the soil at the end of the growing season.

A significant advantage of weed mats (over other types of weed barriers) is that they let in air, water, and nutrients into the soil.

Biodegradable weed mats for mulching tomatoes

This is a fairly new product and is available through Gardener's Supply Company and now, other sources too.

It’s made of 100% post- consumer waste and has special features:

  • works great in vegetable gardens
  • fits around plants
  • helps retain soil moisture
  • keeps weeds down
  • controls temperature fluctuations in the soil
  • can be tilled right into the soil at season's end to improve the soil
  • is chemical-free, completely "green," and biodegradable
  • last an entire season
  • is much less time-consuming to apply than newspaper

These weed mats are a good choice if you are environmentally-conscious and want to use recycled materials. As an added benefit, when you till them into the soil at the end of growing season, you also improve the soil.

For best results …

Biodegradable weed mats
  • Install weed mats on a day with no wind.
  • Install drip hoses before putting down weed mats.
  • Be sure that the dirt underneath is loose so that you can carve a hole with your trowel and drop tomato plants right in.
  • Overlap weed mat seams.
  • Secure weed mats with anchors (such as earth staples, pavers, bricks, rebar, logs, chicken wire).
  • Mulch on top of weed mats (use straw, shredded hardwood mulch, grass clippings or other organic medium) before walking on them or wetting them.

(Browse biodegradable weed mats at Gardener's Supply Company and through other sources.)

When it comes to biodegradable weed mats, be aware of this

  • Mats can tear easily when wet – naturally, because they are made of paper! Place organic mulch on top as soon as you can.
  • Mats can blow away if unanchored.
  • These weed mats are not meant to be used on pathways.
  • Mats can be awkward to handle.

Weed mats compared to black plastic mulch

  • Weed mats let water and air through, where plastic mulch does not
  • Both weed mats and plastic mulch keep the weeds down
  • Both weed mats and plastic mulch heat up the soil

More on mulching tomatoes

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Get more mulching ideas on our Mulching Tomatoes Pinterest board.

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