Raised bed question - cardboard and hardware cloth


RoK

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We have just built a bunch of raised beds with paths in-between for a garden, which we intend to fence off to deter the big local deer population. We also have a lot of groundhogs and other small critters. At first I was thinking that it was pointless to put 1/2 inch hardware cloth on the bottom of the raised beds, as the groundhogs could simply burrow to the paths and climb into the beds. But I've since read that the hardware cloth prevents critters from setting up home IN the beds. We also plan to trench mesh wire cloth below the ground of our fence line, to further deter groundhogs.

We also have been planning to put a layer of cardboard on the bottom of the beds, after mowing the grass as low as we can. This is to kill off the grass while also promoting earthworm populations.

My question is -- should we use hardware cloth and cardboard together? Which should be on bottom/top?

Any other thoughts about our plan?

Thanks in advance!
 
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I don't think it makes a difference as the cardboard will decompose shortly anyway but I think I would put the cardboard on the bottom so it doesn't blow away in a big wind
 
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Welcome to the forum @RoK! (y)

We don't have groundhogs in my part of the world, is the hardware cloth to prevent them from digging up through the underneath of the raised bed?
 

Pat

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I think I would put the cardboard down first so that the cardboard has a closer contact with the ground to start the decomposing process faster.
 
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Welcome to the forum!

I used hardware cloth and then landscape cloth in my raised bed/cold frames. I opted for landscape cloth just because I wanted to keep my dirt from leaching out under the side rails and I know it will last a long time.
 

RoK

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Yes, Becky, the hardware cloth (which is a wire half inch screen/mesh, not really "cloth") is to prevent the groundhogs and other rodents from digging under the beds. I've been steering away from landscape cloth because I am concerned it will hold moisture against the wood which may promote faster rotting, and because I'd rather not bury another man-made material if I can avoid it. However, my husband, wants to do the landscape cloth to be absolutely certain that grass will not grow up through the beds. From everything I've read, and from my gardening experience from over 10 years ago, a thick layer of cardboard and newspaper should be enough to kill the grass. Especially in this August sun, where the grass will die pretty quickly.

Thanks for your comments!
 
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Sounds good, RoK, I'd be really interested to hear how you get on! What are you planning on putting in the raised beds?
 
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I've started putting down cardboard to kill of the grass in an area I want to eventually pave and/or hardscape. In your case I would definitely put down cardboard first, possibly even more than one layer. The only thing about laying the cloth on top is that it might make it hard for earthworms you're hoping to attract with the cardboard to get into the beds.

How fast the wood will rot depends on the type you're using. Newspaper is a good option, but both newspaper and cardboard hold moisture. Landscape cloth also tears easily and breaks down over time so it's not a magic solution. It's contact with the soil that causes wood to rot anyway.
 
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I have to disagree about the landscape cloth tearing. The cheapie stuff from home depot, etc are not anywhere nearas strong as pro landscape cloth. I bought mine at tractor supply.

When I catch a worm, I move them to a new home, in the raised bed. They don't seem to mind.
 

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I have used both newspaper and cardboard to kill the weeds and grass in an area I wanted to plant in. I was surprised how long it really takes for both items to break down, which is a good thing, it does not need to be replaced in one growing season.
 
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I have to disagree about the landscape cloth tearing. The cheapie stuff from home depot, etc are not anywhere nearas strong as pro landscape cloth. I bought mine at tractor supply.

When I catch a worm, I move them to a new home, in the raised bed. They don't seem to mind.
That doesn't mean landscape cloth doesn't tear, it just means that you bought a more expensive one. The fact that it can be to size means it isn't invincible. If you can cut it, an animal certainly could chew through it, or it could be punctured by something else.
 
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I have used both newspaper and cardboard to kill the weeds and grass in an area I wanted to plant in. I was surprised how long it really takes for both items to break down, which is a good thing, it does not need to be replaced in one growing season.
Exactly. We get a lot of boxes in at work when the greenhouse plants come in. I could probably build a house with the boxes from just one shipment. As we unpack, the boxes are flattened and stacked for recycling. I brought home several and put them down as is without cutting. This gave me a double layer of cardboard,
 
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No, the landscape cloth I have is impossible to tear. Well, maybe king kong could. I have to use my biggest shears to cut it . Yes, animals can chew through it, and wood and all sorts of things. This stuff is dandy because I can roll a continuous piece for each area i choose.

I did use the ordinaty stuff to make shade cloths and was well pleased with it.

reusing those cardboard boxes is a dandy idea and keeps the stuff out of land fills. Good one!
 
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No, the landscape cloth I have is impossible to tear. Well, maybe king kong could. I have to use my biggest shears to cut it . Yes, animals can chew through it, and wood and all sorts of things. This stuff is dandy because I can roll a continuous piece for each area i choose.

I did use the ordinaty stuff to make shade cloths and was well pleased with it.

reusing those cardboard boxes is a dandy idea and keeps the stuff out of land fills. Good one!
 
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I did use the ordinaty stuff to make shade cloths and was well pleased with it.
I would be concerned about using it at shade cloth as the stuff I have is black and like those cheap reusable shopping bags - it's not thick enough to not tear, but it's dense enough that I would think no light would get through at all. You have given me an idea for a propagation area though.
 
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@RoK I have groundhogs in my yard, as well as chipmunks, skunks, and any other small creature you might expect, what I did with the raised beds was first landscape cloth, then I did two brick layers like a table, then I put the frame on that, used the landscape cloth again and filled with my soil and planted. I have never had a problem and the worms find their way in somehow. About the only consideration is if it is to dry to long then I have to water.

Along the sides of the raised bed I put down landscape cloth about a tile wide out, and then alternated tile and pea stones. I set pots on the tiles. I figured in the future I will do another raised bed, I saw I neighbor that has an arched trellis between two beds for peas and I think it is brilliant. Such a wise use of space.

last winter came on so fast I did not have time to prep the beds, we went from nice to 7 feet of snow in less then a week. regardless the effect was minimal, but I do usually fertilize well and try to add something to cover some of the herbs that return. Even though I did not I had all the herbs back, collard greens, and a small area of green lettuce which surprised me. To date the creatures have left the bed alone although they did get the lower parts of the blackberry's this year.
 
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Shade cloth comes in different percentages of how much light is allowed through also. The lower the percentage the less light to the plant and vice versa.
 

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