Landscape Fabric 101

Landscape Fabric

Landscape Fabric

Should you really use it?

Have you ever looked at your garden beds and been frustrated by the weeds growing there? Weeding is backbreaking work and you can be excused for looking for ways to reduce the amount of time you need to spend weeding. A trip to a garden centre or big box store can confuse matters worse though, when you look at some of the options available to you. The most prominent item you see is often weed barrier or landscape fabric, but stop for a minute before you spend money on an item which you really don’t need.

Landscape fabric is generally made from polypropylene (plastic). It is porous, in order for air and water to flow through, but thick enough to deter weeds from growing. In theory, all good. In practice—not so much.

Let CLC Tree Service’s Plant Health Care Specialist explain.

Pam Cook says,

“Landscape fabric is designed for use under stones and that is where it should stay. It’s made of plastic, so doesn’t break down, meaning you will always have remnants of it that you have to remove, even after a several years. And after a few years, it will be ripped and torn, depending upon the grade of fabric you use.

To make matters worse, weeds end up growing on top of the weed barrier, between the mulch and fabric, making it difficult to weed without putting more holes in the fabric. And the fabric prevents the soil underneath from mixing with any soil on top, which means the loss of nutrients from below.

You are far better off to put down a layer of mulch, which deters weeds from growing, plus organically breaks down and adds nutrients back to the soil.

Doing a little research helps before tackling any project. While some people might swear by the use of landscape fabric, others complain about the smell, of water pooling, and yes, of weeds growing despite the weed barrier. Add to that the difficulty of removing old weed barrier (not an easy task when it rips even more as you try to remove it) and you should seriously consider whether you really want to use it at all. Whether for gardens or around trees.

Weed barriers are meant to be placed under rocks and pavers, for patios, pathways, driveways, and other places where you don’t want anything to grow. And if you don’t believe us, ask a landscape professional, do a little research of your own, or start with this video, “Should I Use Weed Fabric?”

Happy gardening!

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