A ground cover of either stone or bark will help eliminate this problem.
Wood bark may be used on all sides of the house. It contrasts well with light colored houses, and holds moisture in the soil longer; shallow rooted plants like Azaleas, Rhododendrons, and Japonicas do well with this as their Planting mix.
There are a number of different kinds of bark products: shredded hardwood bark, fines or processed bark, redwood bark, cedar bark, red pine bark, cypress bark, wood chips, shredded wood and so on. All have a different look, they also have to be applied at least 3-4 inches thick if you are starting from scratch.
Before you start, be sure to dig a 4" deep by 6" wide trench right next to your edging, on the landscape side. If you do not have edging, now, would be a good time to install it; it not only keeps the grass out, but also keeps the ground cover in.
The trench will allow you to put a thick layer of bark right up to the edging. If you go ground level to ground level on both sides of the edging you will have to pile up the bark near the edging to keep the weeds down, and not see the dirt. You will find that the bark will constantly be falling out into the yard without this trench.
Putting the bark down at 3-4 inches thick will smother out any weeds or seed wanting to grow from underneath, and make it impossible for them to get a foot hold on top because the first two inches dry out so fast.
Do not put any plastic or weed cloth down. Bark breaks down and turns into dirt; and in two years you will have a rootable soil layer for weeds. A 2-inch layer of new bark every 2 years will not only freshen up the landscape but also keep the weeds under control.
There is a painted wood mulch on the market that seems to have a lasting capability of well over 3 years, I've seen some go as long as 4 if you don't mind a little fading. It's just less than double the price of shredded bark but can last time longer or more. It comes in three colors; brown, tan, and a redwood color.
Stone products come in a wide variety of looks as well. Most Garden centers with handle 1"-2" stone, 2"-3" stone, limestone, and red or black lava rock. Places like Grand Rapids Gravel stocking items like pea gravel 1" stone, and cracked stone. Some Garden Centers handle several kinds of colored stone, but after looking them all over you haven't seen one that catches your eye, give The Stone Zone a try on Remembrance west of Wilson in Walker they have the largest selection I know of.
The procedure is about the same as the bark in regards to trenching, but there are some things that are different.
Stone should not go on the south side of a house. The intense summer heat bakes the stone to a point that the night hours are not long enough to cool it back down, thus the roots never get a break from the heat.
A big advantage to having stone is, it never breaks down, so plastic or fabric can be used to eliminate the weed problem. If you are using plastic be sure to cut big enough hole around the plants for watering; usually a foot out from the center of the plant will be sufficient in the case of new plantings. An application of stone 3 inches thick would be enough to hide the plastic or weed cloth; any more stone would be a waste.
To figure out how much stone or bark you will need multiply the width of your area by the length and divide by 80 if you are going to spread bark; and 100 if you are going to spread stone.
A little time and sweat spent now will save a lot of time, sweat, and frustration later.
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