- full plastic of whatever color keeps water from getting nearer to an aquifer
- that is a point for what we used to call 'saran', a plastic weave - water can pass.
- your ground is native to the area. It is routinely treated by adding amendments.
Whether to fight the natural ground or not could take us until doomsday to argue.
I've moved over the years to the natives point of view - but I have herbs across my front yard, lavender and rosemary, because they are tolerant and make me happy - - but they are not natives. So... not a perfectionist.
- the nastiness that is there in your side yard is likely without memory of every being roundupped. It is the natural soil.
I agree with the raised bed point of view, given the raised beds drain.