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I began my layout early on in 2009 and promptly fell ill.   The timing was vile, just as spring was sprunging and plants were about to do their thing more than somewhat. I had visions of needing a machete to  find the line again. But wait! I had already been using old carpet, scrounged from the local carpet shop to smother ground elder and the dreaded Japanese Knotweed so I had the idea that I could stave off the inexorable march of the weeds and grass all over the area by just carpeting the lot. I approached the shop and they obliged. It worked a treat and now I have it all between the rows in my fruit cage too. In fact, wherever you don't want plants to grow, it's perfect.
You need to ask a small shop for this, not big chains; they refuse to cart off the old stuff.
The best part of this is that after a couple of years, the carpeting grows mosses and lichens and whatever the original colour might have been, it all becomes a sagey green. Last May I took a rail trip from Rannoch to Mallaig on the West Highland line. It was fabulous and I'd encourage anyone who has yet to take that trip to do so. However, looking out of the window over Rannoch Moor, I was struck by the similarity between what I was looking at and my filthy old carpet back home.
Take a look for yourself. Bear in mind this is how Rannoch looks in May only shortly after the winter when the heather, such as it is, is still brown.

Rannoch Moor

Two years ago, this graced somebody's sitting room. Actually, the best stuff used to earn its keep in a loo, being pee'ed on by short-sighted blokes. It's amazing what a little nitrogen will do on wool or even man-made fibres to encourage the greens.
I tuck it down the sides of the thermalite blocks on which the track lies, ballast up and over it and after cutting some suitable holes, shove plants in. I like hebes and thymes and true miniature conifers when I feel rich enough to visit  a chap in Norfolk who sells them.