Working with nature - natural landscaping

Would you know where to look for mulching, weed suppressing or ground stabilising materials when you need to landscape your property?

Not really........Join the club.  Unless you are a geotechnical or civil engineer the most common way to source landscaping products for stabilisation, weed control or vegetation establishment is to either ask someone who you think will know, like your local builder’s merchant or garden centre,  or Google it. Either way the chance of turning up a natural solution is very low.

Ecomerchant Pre Seeded Mulch Mat This man made swale (pond) was entirely landscaped using natural geotextiles such as erosion control mat and coir netting, plant establishment was rapid and harmonious. There will be no trace of the natural geotextiles used after 3 years.
Polyprop Weed Membrane A typical woven Polypropylene geotextile the type found in most builders merchants and garden centres

The standard default material used for geotechnical membranes is Polypropylene either as a woven textile or non woven spun fabric. In fact it's pretty hard to find alternatives to Polypropylene it is ubiquitously presented in garden centres, builders merchants and on line as the 'go to' material for landscaping, you would be forgiven for assuming that this is utterly normal and that there is no other way of solving these problems. But there are issues and they come from the very fabric of the material itself, Polypropylene.

 

Tree membrane badly fitted (1) An all too common sight, an unsightly and difficult to remove Polypropylene woven geotextile

Polypropylene is strong and very durable and so ideal for certain engineering applications such as road building, the material is highly resistant to photo degradation and will not decay for millennia is ideal for use in ground as a barrier. In fact there are many cases where a Polypropylene membrane will do a job no other product can but there are many  applications where there are other better materials. Its not just using Polypropylene for these unsuitable applications that is a problem, its unsightly nature and the very fact it has such a long life is an issue, and it all starts with the material itself, Polypropylene.

Most plastic is manufactured from petroleum the end product of a few million years of natural decay of once-living organisms. Petroleum's main components come from lipids that were first assembled long ago in those organisms' cells. So you could ask the question, “if petroleum-derived plastic comes from bio-material, why doesn't it biodegrade?”

The answer lies with the manufacturing process where a crucial processing step turns petroleum into a material unrecognized by the organisms that normally break organic matter down.

When heated up in the presence of a catalyst, individual chemical units (monomers of propylene) link together by forming extremely strong carbon-carbon bonds with each other which results in polymers (which are long chains of monomers) bonded together to form polypropylene.

The problem here is that nature works by building things up  and breaking them down and nature doesn't make things like polypropylene;  it  is unrecognisable to pretty much every living organism  as food there simply aren't the metabolic pathways to do it and so it has a high level of persistence.

But we use them because they are relatively cheap (unless you buy handy packs form garden centres) they work and alternatives are not mainstream products.

Ecomerchant Coir Mulchmat 4 Ecomerchant Mulch Mat

A better solution for weed suppression, moisture control, soil stabilisation, erosion control, and general landscaping, to ensure that nature is given the best opportunity to re-establish is our  complete range of natural fibre products.

For most applications re-establishing natural vegetation is the ultimate design aim when landscaping a project especially if this includes problems of erosion control or soil stabilisation re-establishing plants such as grasses quickly provides sustainable long term erosion protection - the stems absorb rain energy (reducing erosion from raindrop impact), slow down water runoff and trap sediment, and cushion the impact of foot or vehicular traffic. In most circumstances biodegradable erosion control is preferable to any permanent material such as plastic. Natural materials provide a much lower rate of soil loss boosting water retention which promotes vegetation growth. Permanent plastic mats have a smooth slippery surface and no capacity to absorb and retain water, plus they do not degrade.

All grasses will develop a root matrix which helps reinforce the topsoil binding it to the subsoil below; this means the root system improves drainage and soil aeration so reducing the movement of soil particles and consequent erosion or degradation.

When planting with trees or shrubs they also provide similar protection but with the added benefit of giving deeper subsoil reinforcement. Ecomerchant’s range of materials offer short, medium and long term support to assist natural development of plants and grasses which will provide the ultimate long-term and sustainable outcome.

Ecomerchant Coir Mulchmat 2 Ecomerchant Mulchmat with starch based light proof backing

Unlike synthetic materials which do not degrade and remain unattractive all our materials degrade in harmony with the development of the vegetation. The conditions that accelerate decomposition of our blankets and grids i.e. warmth and moisture, also are the conditions in which grasses and plants increase growth.

 

Where a natural solution is required or the ugliness of synthetic products is a factor Ecomerchant easy to use 100% natural range of mats, nets and blankets will always provide the best option for those who value a truly natural and effective outcome.

Some of the Features & Benefits of using the Ecomerchant range

  • 100%natural
  • Low cost option
  • Easy to use
  • Look good in use unlike plastic or synthetic barriers
  • Reduces plant stress ensuring very low plant losses
  • Non-chemical weed control for many seasons
  • Allows solar radiation to raise and maintain the soil temperature for fast growth
  • Avoids nitrogen sink effect experienced with bark mulches
  • Eliminates the need for surface coverings such as bark or gravel
  • Smaller sizes ensure economical use
  • Low maintenance costs

 

THE RANGE

Ecomerchant Coir Mulchmat

Ecomerchant Coir Mulchmat 1

100% natural, plastic and chemical FREE mulch mat with light barrier. Moisture control, weed control, soil erosion protection.

 

Ecomerchant Jute Netting

Ecomerchant Jute netting 2 Compressed

100% natural fibre netting for netting for short term vegetation establishment on banks and slopes up to 30 degrees

 

 

 

Ecomerchant Coir Netting

geojute

100% natural fibre netting to ensure long term surface stability on steep problem areas, exposed sites and water courses.

 

Ecomerchant Organic Erosion Control Mat

Erosion Control Mat

For slope and embankment stabilisation, especially around watercourses, streams and ponds, 100% natural fibre, promotes rapid vegetation establishment

 

Ecomerchant Eco Peg

Eco Peg

100% recycled material and recyclable. Multipurpose peg for garden and landscaping projects