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Old roofing sheets as weed edging?

 
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I have a lot of old steel roofing sheets (around 150m2) and I have one part of my garden where I want to plant asparagus that butts onto overgrown pasture (various grasses including couch, creeping thistles, milk thistles, buttercup, nettles etc etc) How to stop the grasses and other plants getting into the asparagus bed and overrunning it has been puzzling me. I don't want to use landscape fabric as it provides a haven for voles and they really do a number on vegetables. so I was wondering if I could cut the old roof sheets and lay them in the ground upright, like the horrible plastic lawn edging one can buy. If I bent over the top they wouldn't be very sharp and I'm hoping they might stop the creeping roots coming through so easily. Any ideas why this might be a bad idea? someone has done it on the other edge of the field with asbestos plates.. that obviously was/is a bad idea!
 
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seems like a good enough idea! I use old clay roofing tiles set into the ground to stop the creeping weeds from getting into my garden beds, and it works great. (my asparagus is actually planted in a deep box, since the local soil here is too rocky and nasty for asparagus).
Not sure how far down you have to go, I would guess no more than a foot (which you need anyway to keep it from blowing over in the wind), this may be obvious but put something (medical tape?) on the cut edges because that metal roofing is sharp as the dickens.
 
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This is a timely post.  I will be tearing down my wood shed in about a month.  What to do with the old metal has been a concern if mine.
 
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For me, the best use of old metal roofing is to make new roofs.

But there's nothing wrong with using some of it as edging. I think it would work well. An angle grinder with a thin cutting wheel will go through it like butter.

What is your plan for bending it over? Most roofing materials are a corrugated or ribbed metal for strength. Bending it over is actually quite hard.
 
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Are there dogs in the area? Metal edging is notorious for paw injury, especially if it goes between the toes.
 
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Agreed, the sharp edge is the problem that needs to be thought through.
 
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I'm assuming you'd run it the long way?  Then you could have a "factory" edge up and it would be straight so you could slice an older garden hose to put on it.  If you run it the vertical way it's a bit trickier to cover the convolutions.

One crazy idea I have is to plant a shit load of rhubarb on the outside of the fence.  One every 2.5 feet all along the fence.  Nothing seems to be able to grow under it.  I'm not sure how far your weeds can send runners before they give up due to shade but that might be an option.
 
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Mike Haasl wrote:I'm assuming you'd run it the long way?  Then you could have a "factory" edge up and it would be straight so you could slice an older garden hose to put on it.


Excellent point. You're absolutely right, cut it along the ribs not across. Folding or covering the sharp edge would be much easier.
 
Skandi Rogers
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My idea is to cut it next to each rib and fold the rib over so the top is a bent piece not an edge. I have a nibbler so cutting it is not an issue at all.  we've cut lots of it up for patches and a ridge line so I know that folding it isn't particularly hard either, although getting a straight fold needs a jig.
the red lines a the cuts and the green lines would be folds.
roofing.png
[Thumbnail for roofing.png]
 
Mike Haasl
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I like your plan Skandi!

Two comments:
1.  I'm guessing this is obvious since you've used them before...  The nibblers I'm familiar with cast off a bunch of little crescent shaped sharp bits that are just waiting to get stuck in a foot (human, dog, etc)
2.  The bending might go easier if you move the green line to the left two bends.  Then you're doing a 135 degree bend instead of a 225 degree bend
3. (bonus comment) If the bend is hard to do and you have too much time on your hands, you can drill a hole every foot or two for the nibbler.  Nibble out most of the bend line so that you only have to bend 20% of the metal.  This might leave exposed sharp edges so I'd want to do a test section first to see how it turns out.  But that would give you a nice straight bend line.
 
Skandi Rogers
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Mike Haasl wrote:I like your plan Skandi!

Two comments:
1.  I'm guessing this is obvious since you've used them before...  The nibblers I'm familiar with cast off a bunch of little crescent shaped sharp bits that are just waiting to get stuck in a foot (human, dog, etc)
2.  The bending might go easier if you move the green line to the left two bends.  Then you're doing a 135 degree bend instead of a 225 degree bend
3. (bonus comment) If the bend is hard to do and you have too much time on your hands, you can drill a hole every foot or two for the nibbler.  Nibble out most of the bend line so that you only have to bend 20% of the metal.  This might leave exposed sharp edges so I'd want to do a test section first to see how it turns out.  But that would give you a nice straight bend line.



Yes the nibbler leaves a ton of bits of metal, we normally use it on a tarp to catch most of them and then use a magnet in a plastic bag on a string to get the rest. always some missed but better than anything else we have tried. I see what you mean with the bend, I think I will try both, bending the entire ridge over will give a neater finish I think with the cut end tucked right in, but it may be to hard or just snap the metal. If so I think your idea will work.
 
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Skandi, have you considered putting a section down into the ground as pictured, but then bending the next section at 90 degrees so it lays flat out away from the bed for 9" to a foot (10 - 15 cm). That gives you space to mow or scythe the grass down without risking your asparagus ferns. It also keeps the weed heads a bit further from the garden. I have a version of that at the edge of my main veggie garden. It doesn't stop everything, but it does make it easier to mow when I do - I admit I've been leaving the grass longer and longer of late - it shades the soil and conserves moisture better!
 
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Mike Haasl wrote:I'm assuming you'd run it the long way?  Then you could have a "factory" edge up and it would be straight so you could slice an older garden hose to put on it.  If you run it the vertical way it's a bit trickier to cover the convolutions.

One crazy idea I have is to plant a shit load of rhubarb on the outside of the fence.  One every 2.5 feet all along the fence.  Nothing seems to be able to grow under it.  I'm not sure how far your weeds can send runners before they give up due to shade but that might be an option.



I am in the very early stages of trying the rhubarb barrier idea, but inside the fence... time will tell..
 
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D Nikolls wrote:

I am in the very early stages of trying the rhubarb barrier idea, but inside the fence... time will tell..

Please report back. My experience is that growing rhubarb on Vancouver Island is much harder than in Ontario. It may be our really wet winters or it may be our cloudy Junes. I suspect you're further south on the Island than I am, and microclimates are the norm around here.
 
D Nikolls
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Jay Angler wrote:D Nikolls wrote:

I am in the very early stages of trying the rhubarb barrier idea, but inside the fence... time will tell..

Please report back. My experience is that growing rhubarb on Vancouver Island is much harder than in Ontario. It may be our really wet winters or it may be our cloudy Junes. I suspect you're further south on the Island than I am, and microclimates are the norm around here.



Rhubarb has been a low effort crop on my parents property 15 mins north of Victoria for the last 25 years, relative to nearly everything else.

My experiment is in Black Creek; the 4 plants I threw in over the last year all went in at dumb times and received next to no care. They seemed quite happy when buried in reed canary grass; less so now that I have hacked that down... not much data to share yet!
 
Mike Haasl
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I'm in a slightly different climate but mine doesn't allow anything to grow under it.
Row-of-rhubarb.jpg
Row of rhubarb
Row of rhubarb
 
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