Master Gardener Ed Buyarski explains that a mulch or a non-living ground cover can inhibit weed growth, conserve moisture and provide a more aesthetically-pleasing surface than just bare soil between your trees and shrubs.
Buyarski recommends a first layer of a heavy-duty, woven, porous landscaping fabric. That can be topped with bark, woods chips or gravel. He also uses a lot of cardboard as the first layer, which adds nutrients when it slowly breaks down into the soil after a year or two.
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