Anyone who has been down to the Seven Creeks Reserve or even been for a walk around The Arb will have seen the Arboretum’s Bush Crew rolling out the grey carpet, or at least seen where they have done it. In fact it looks more like underlay than carpet. What’s it for? Is some foreign dignitary coming to visit the fair city of Euroa or is the Bush Crew going soft and putting a warm blanket down to protect the ground on those chilly winters nights? Or is it a nice, soft surface for possums to walk on?
The ‘grey carpet’ is used for weed control. One of the major issues when regenerating sections of native vegetation is the growth of weeds. Weeds remove water and nutrients from the soil that could otherwise be used by the new plants. More importantly weeds can restrict the light reaching new plants and crowd them out. Just compare the side of the Seven Creeks where weed matting has been laid down with the other side, where uncontrolled weeds, like Oat Grass (Arrhenatherum sp.), are over a metre high.
The matting can also act as a barrier to erosion in established plantings. Using weed matting is a short-term measure to restrict weed growth until the new plants have established themselves and become dense enough to suppress weed growth without extra help.
We use a biodegradable felt for the matting — so it will eventually break down. This matting allows rain to soak into the soil and does not stop air circulating in the topsoil. Its colour also blends in with the landscape (you would not want to roll out the red carpet for example).
Be prepared to see more carpet laid out in the future.