Weeds are a pest that can kill your precious plants.
If you’ve been struggling with herbicides and not getting any results, you might be looking for an alternative. Luckily, landscape fabric is an excellent long-term solution for weeds.
You should opt for landscape fabric because it prevents weeds from sprouting, reduces the need for herbicides, keeps the soil moist, and prevents erosion. However, to avoid the downsides of landscape fabric, you should only use professional fabric and add compost to the soil before installation.
In this article, we cover all the pros and cons of landscape fabric. We also take a look at how to install it and how much you can expect to pay. So, let’s get started!
Table of Contents
What Is Landscape Fabric?
Landscape fabric is made of woven fibers or a solid sheet that has holes included. The holes or gaps in the woven fabric allow water to pass through the fabric. However, it blocks wind and sunlight from the earth underneath.
It is sold in rolls that you use to cover certain areas of your garden. You can use landscape fabric with shrubs, trees, or other plants. You usually use it together with mulch and pins to keep the fabric in place.
The Pros of Landscape Fabric
The main advantage of landscape fabric is that it prevents the growth of weeds. This means that you don’t need to use damaging herbicides that can be toxic to you and your plants. Landscaping fabric also has advantages for your soil.
Let’s take a look at all the pros of landscape fabric.
Landscape Fabric Prevents Weeds from Sprouting
Landscape fabric prevents weeds from growing. It does this because it is a physical barrier against the seeds. The fabric prevents sunlight from penetrating the surface.
Like all plants, weeds need sunlight to grow. Plants grow using the process of photosynthesis, where they convert energy from the sun, water, and gases into glucose. They use this glucose as their energy source to live and grow.
Therefore, landscape blocking the sun does not allow weeds to grow and kills them. It can also cover large areas and therefore get rid of many weeds at the same time. This is a much faster process than manually pulling up weeds.
Landscape Fabric Reduces the Need for Herbicides
Many gardeners use herbicides to kill weeds. However, herbicides can be dangerous to your health. They can cause problems in your muscular, neurological, and gastric systems. This is because herbicides can mutate DNA in humans and animals, and interfere in normal cell activity.
Herbicides are also directly harmful to plants. They can interfere in their cellular processes and slow their growth.
Therefore, using landscape fabric to kill weeds is a much healthier option. It keeps your plants and soil free of harmful herbicides. This is especially important if you are growing fruit, vegetables, and herbs that you eat.
Landscape Fabric Keeps Soil Moist
Landscape fabric keeps the soil at an optimal moisture level. Soil without landscape fabric dries out more quickly because of exposure to sunlight and wind. This is most true in summer when the hot sun causes water to evaporate quickly.
The fabric protects the soil from the elements and traps the moisture inside. It also moderates the temperature of the soil and keeps it warm for plants to grow. Therefore, it creates optimal conditions for your garden.
Landscape Fabric Prevents Erosion
Soil erosion is a change in the shape of the land because of wind or water. It is a natural process that makes soil detach from the ground, move away, and fall in a different place.
Soil erosion is a problem because it removes important nutrients from the soil. This means that your plants will need more fertilizer to grow properly. It is also a problem if you live near a body of water like a river. The soil can move into the water and pollute lakes and rivers.
Landscape fabric prevents erosion because it acts as a physical barrier against the wind. It also puts pressure on the soil and keeps it in the same position and shape. This is a great advantage, especially if you live in a climate with a lot of storms.
The Cons of Landscape Fabric
Even though landscape fabric is excellent at killing weeds, it does have some downsides. It can prevent natural mulch and the activity of earthworms. Depending on the fabric, it is also not always effective.
Let’s take a look at the cons of landscape fabric.
Landscape Fabric Is Bad for Earthworms
Landscape fabric discourages earthworms. They like to make burrows from the surface of the soil and deeper into the ground. Landscaping fabric prevents them from doing their work under the soil and can even deprive them of oxygen.
This can be harmful to your garden because earthworms improve the quality of the soil. They help aerate the soil from their tunnels and also distribute organic matter. Plants can easily absorb nutrients that have already been digested by earthworms.
Therefore, using landscaping fabric can reduce the quality of your soil. This can harm your plants and prevent them from reaching their full potential.
Landscape Fabric Prevents Natural Mulch
Landscape fabric prevents natural mulch like plant leaves. Falling plant matter cannot get through the barrier of the fabric. It also inhibits the process of decomposition.
This is harmful to your garden because it reduces the number of nutrients in the soil. You will need to replace them with fertilizer. Otherwise, your plants could wilt and suffer from nutrient deficiency.
Landscape Fabric Is Not Always Effective
The main purpose of landscape fabric is to prevent the growth of weeds. However, sometimes weeds can grow in the mulch on top of the fabric. This is a problem because the roots of the weeds can go through the fabric and hold on more deeply than before.
Keep an eye on any weeds that may sprout. Rip them out immediately before they can take root. This is more likely to happen a couple of years after installing landscape fabric.
Landscape fabric is also not suitable for plants that need high nutrient levels. We do not recommend using it with vegetables or flowering plants.
How to Install Landscape Fabric
First, you need to choose your landscape fabric. We recommend the ECOgardener Premium 5oz Landscape Fabric.
You will also need:
- Landscape fabric staples
- A garden hoe
- A garden rake
- A utility knife
- A hammer
Once you have all the tools together, you can get started on the installation.
- Clear the soil. Use your garden hoe to remove all weeds and other plants. Make sure that you get the roots as well as the top foliage. You could also use a herbicide to kill the existing plants.
- Make the surface flat. Use your garden rake to remove any debris and level the surface of the soil.
- Roll out the landscape fabric. Lie it next to the space where you will install it and make cuts with the utility knife while you roll. Overlap pieces by 6 inches if you need extra length.
- Use the landscape fabric staples. Use a hammer to drive the staples into the correct position along the fabric. You should have a staple every 10 feet, with the fabric pulled tight.
- Add the plants. Use the utility knife to make small cuts in the fabric where you want to plant your plants. Dig out the soil, insert the roots of the plants into the ground and pack the soil around its base.
- Add the mulch. Add 1-2 inches of mulch on top of the landscape fabric. Use a rake to spread it evenly over the entire surface area.
After installation, your garden landscape fabric needs regular maintenance. Once there is a buildup of soil and broken down mulch, you should remove it fully and replace it. This prevents weeds from growing in your mulch.
If you are using stones to hold down the weight of the fabric, you should also use a hose to remove dirt from their surface.
How Much Does Landscape Fabric Cost?
Landscape fabric can cost between $0.32 and $0.66 per square foot. This includes the cost of the fabric, labor, and additional supplies.
However, this is dependent on where you live and if you decide to use a professional installation company. It is also dependent on the size of your garden.
We recommend using a company for installation. This ensures that the fabric is flat and the ground is free from weeds.
If you choose to install it yourself, you should take care to remove any weeds and their roots before installation. Otherwise, you run the risk of weeds taking root through your landscape fabric.
In conclusion, you should opt for landscape fabric if you are having problems with weeds. It can prevent weeds from growing and also helps to keep your soil moist and protected from erosion.
Landscape fabric has some disadvantages, including preventing the natural buildup of mulch and earthworms. You should always choose a high-quality fabric and fertilize your soil before installing it.
It can seem expensive at first, but landscape fabric is a long-term investment. It will reduce your herbicide use and allow your garden to thrive. Good luck!