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Dino-Rabbit 11-20-2013 07:05 PM

My Landscape Mulching Project
I am a ninth grader doing a science fair project. I decided to test some landscape coverings to see which ones blocked out the most weeds. I planted 16 weeds in each section and then put the landscape coverings over them to see which one would have the most weeds left over at the end. These are the results.
Control: 28 weeds
Clear Mulch (cut up gatorade bottles): 19 weeds
Rubber Mulch: 4
Pine Needles: 3
Black Mulch: 1
Granite Gravel: 0
Sand: 2
Weed Fabric: 2

I am a little confused on a couple of things.

What caused the black mulch to be so effective? It retains a lot of moisture, so would presume it steals some of the weeds' water, but it also keeps them cool.

Sand blocks out all sunlight, so why would there be any growth there? It is basically the same as gravel except for the particle size, so it should do much better than gravel.

I know that plants sense sunlight and grow towards it. Is this why the weeds in the weed fabric skirted around the fabric and came up out of the side?

Keep in mind that I planted 16 weeds in a 2x8 formation in a 11.5"x28" space. There were about 2" thickness of the materials, except for weed fabric (we put three layers of that). This was done in South Florida (Zone 10B).
Thank you!

oh'mike 11-21-2013 05:01 AM

Bear in mind that your experiment /sampling is rather small--unless you do several beds of each type of mulch---you must factor in the possibility that some plants just die----ask any gardener.

it is possible that the black mulch has a higher surface temperature and hurts the plants---

PoleCat 11-21-2013 05:39 AM

You have bitten off quite a big task. Particularly in southern Florida where you have multiple overlapping growing seasons. You may need to narrow the scope of your experiment.

ddawg16 11-21-2013 05:55 AM

As with any experiment, you have to repeat the same test 2 more times to see if you get similar results.....only then can you narrow down the cause.

kenearlg 11-26-2013 03:28 PM

Agreeing with o'mike, the black mulch can get very hot in direct sunlight. Especially if it's sheet plastic? Not sure what you specifically mean by black mulch.

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