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Gardening Guide: Everything You Need to Know about the Best Landscaping Fabric for Your Garden

Posted by ECOgardener on

On the hunt for the best landscaping fabric for your garden? Gardening is such a wonderful hobby but let's face it, certain activities can be downright taxing such as getting rid of weeds. As you know, weeds rob plants of nutrients. If you want to preserve the look of your garden, you have to remove the weeds before they take over the whole garden. And weeds can take over the garden in such a short period of time.

You can get rid of weeds every day but they have a way of sprouting from unexpected places. It’s a never-ending chore! Unfortunately, not all homeowners have time for daily weeding. If such is the case with you then we highly suggest looking into landscape fabric to keep weeds at bay!

What is a Landscaping Fabric?

Landscape fabric is a type of material made from tightly woven plastic fibers with perforated holes. It’s often sold as a solid sheet. This product is used to eliminate weeds and promote plant growth without using chemicals.

Landscape fabric is placed around trees, flowering plants, and shrubs, etc. It kills weeds by blocking out the sunlight weeds need to grow. Since the material is permeable, the landscaping fabric gets rid of weeds without blocking air and moisture. Landscape fabric has practical uses other than getting rid of weeds. You can use it to prevent soil erosion and control water flows.
 
Landscape fabric comes in different grades; some are more durable than others because of the tighter weaves. The best landscaping fabric for your garden will depend on many factors.

Types of Landscape Fabric

Sold in rolled sheets, landscape fabric varies in thickness, material types, weaving, and grades. There are two major types of landscaping fabric, woven and non-woven. To maximize the benefits of landscaping fabric, you need to choose the right product that suits your needs. Below are the different types of landscape fabric to choose from:

Woven Landscape Fabric

This is the most common type of landscape fabric. The product is made from either polypropylene or linen. The woven material has tiny holes for nutrient and water exchange between the plants and the soil. This landscaping fabric is best suited for flowerbeds. You can also place it around trees and shrubbery to kill weeds.

Before installing the woven landscape fabric, you have to till the soil. After covering parts of the garden with woven landscape fabric, create holes that are big enough for your plants to grow into the soil.

Non-Woven Landscape Fabric

This landscape fabric is made from non-woven polyester or polypropylene. It is best used to eliminate weeds in rock or gravel landscapes. The material prevents weeds from taking over the gravel path or desert landscape. It also prevents gravel from settling into the soil.

This product allows for some water movement and drainage to the soil below. But while the woven landscape fabric allows for some drainage and water movement, the material is not as porous as other landscape fabrics. If the non-woven landscaping fabric was installed improperly, it can suffocate the plant roots.

Spun Landscape Fabric

This is one of the most hardwearing types of landscaping fabric. Spun landscape fabric is a type of non-woven landscaping fabric made from bonded fabric. This material is hard to shred or tear.
 
Spun landscape fabric is quite versatile. Apart from getting rid of weeds, it can used around borders to create a barrier between the soil and the grass. If you are dealing with pests or destructive insects, you can install spun landscape fabric to keep unwanted critters at bay without affecting the soil and the plants. Since the material is permeable, air and moisture can still seep into the soil.

Perforated Landscaping Fabric

Perforated landscape fabric is perhaps the most affordable landscaping fabric on the market. It is best suited for gardens with lots of annual plants. This landscape fabric is lightweight so it is perfect for areas of the garden with minimal foot traffic. You can also use perforated landscape fabric to protect vegetable gardens and raised beds from weeds and invading insects. The lightweight material is highly permeable so it won’t suffocate delicate plant roots that are vulnerable to drought.

Factors to Consider When Shopping Around for Landscaping Fabric

Application

As you can see from the selection of landscaping fabrics we have outlined above, different landscaping fabrics have different features. If you are shopping around for landscaping fabric, get a product that’s designed specifically for the kind of garden that you have.

Generally, landscaping fabrics are best for gardens with lots of shrubberies or those with a serious weed problem. If most of your plants have delicate plant roots then it is not advisable to use thick, heavy-duty landscaping fabric to remove weeds.

Thickness

Landscaping fabrics vary in material thickness. Generally, products with the thickest materials are the most durable because they do not tear easily. Also, these products could withstand harsh weather conditions and extreme wear and tear. However, thick landscaping fabrics are quite expensive and these products are designed for specific applications. The thickness of the landscaping fabric depends on your garden application. For instance, if you need landscaping fabric for gravel landscapes, choose thick landscape fabric because the rocks will wear out thinner fabric material much faster. The same thing goes for gardens with tough weeds, use thick landscape fabric.

On the other hand, if you need landscape fabric for your herb garden, you can opt for lightweight landscape fabric with perforated holes. Herbs are delicate plants with fragile root systems and thin landscape fabric will not weigh the plants down nor block air and water.

UV Treatments

Being exposed to the sun all day, every day leads to material breakdown. Some landscaping fabrics are chemically treated to make them more resilient against the elements. You can always get UV treated landscaping fabrics to delay material breakdown but if treated fabrics are out of the questions, set the landscaping fabric away from the sun to extend the life of the product.

How to Choose the Best Landscape Fabric for Your Garden

Permeability

If you are using landscape fabric to control weeds, go for the one made with breathable materials. Some landscaping fabrics are either too thick or woven too tightly, inhibiting plants’ moisture and nutrient absorption. Landscaping fabric made with breathable material allows for optimal light, nutrient, and moisture absorption. It keeps weeds at bay without choking the plants. You can get either plastic landscape fabric with perforated holes or linen landscape fabric for maximum breathability. As an added plus, breathable landscape fabric is lightweight, it won’t weigh your plants down.

Appearance

Some gardeners dislike using landscape fabric because it can make the garden look tacky or artificial. If you’re all about preserving the appearance of your garden, we suggest choosing a landscape fabric that adds beauty to your garden. How you install the landscape fabric could also affect the look of your garden so lay the landscape fabric as cleanly as you can.

User-Friendliness

Installing a landscape fabric is not rocket science but there is a right way and a wrong way of doing this. Installing landscape fabric will require simple tools and a little elbow grease. Some landscape fabrics are easier to install than others but if you are unsure how to do it, let a professional handle the installation for you. If you want to save more money then opt for landscape fabric that you can install on your own.

Durability

The durability of the material is one of the most important factors you need to consider when shopping around for landscaping fabric. Lightweight landscaping fabrics are generally less durable than thicker landscaping fabric. If you want landscaping fabric that can withstand every day wear and tear and last you years of service, opt for products made with a thick yet breathable material.

Treatment

Although landscaping fabric gets bad press for the way it’s processed, some products are more eco-friendly than others. While chemically treated landscaping fabrics have their benefits, they’ve been known to harm beneficial insects. Chemicals could also seep into the soil, killing the plants.

Benefits of Using Landscaping Fabric

Weed Control

The primary purpose of landscaping fabric is to eliminate weeds or control weed growth. Weeds rob plants of nutrients, causing stunted growth, lackluster yields, or minimal blooms. Weeds can get out of control quickly unless they are removed every day. If daily weeding is not possible, you can simply cover the ground with landscaping fabric to kill the weeds without using herbicides.

Prevents Erosion

Landscaping fabric is particularly useful in places where soil erosion is a problem. Hilly places or sloping areas are prone to soil erosion especially during a heavy rainstorm. The flowing water exposes the roots of the plants, making them vulnerable to diseases, damage, and rot. Laying landscaping fabric under a layer of mulch protects the soil and the plant roots from streaming water.

Prevents Moisture Evaporation

When used in flower or plant beds, perforated landscaping fabric prevents the moisture from evaporating. The landscaping fabric keeps the soil moist, which is important for growing plants.

Prevent Organic Mulches from Breaking Down

Landscaping fabric keeps mulch from compacting into the soil. Since the fabric works as a physical barrier between the mulch and the soil, landscaping fabric keeps organic mulch from breaking down quickly. You can also remove the mulch much easier using landscaping fabric.

Easy Garden Maintenance

Landscaping fabric protects flowering plants from pests without using pesticides. Since you are not spending a lot of time removing weeds or getting rid of garden pests, you can enjoy your garden with less effort.

How to Use Landscape Fabric

If you are using the landscaping fabric to control weeds, start by clearing the garden of weeds, rocks, twigs and unwanted debris. Turn the garden soil with a fork or a tiller. Work the compost or fertilizer into the ground based on the plants that you want to grow in the area.

Once the soil is ready, smooth the ground with a rake one last time then unroll the landscaping fabric. Lay the landscaping fabric on the plot starting from one edge and then work your way across. With a utility knife or scissors, cut the landscaping fabric so it covers the area perfectly. You can also cut several pieces of landscaping fabric to cover a larger part of the garden. Just overlap the landscaping fabric pieces so the weeds will not grow in between the gaps.

Next, cut slits into the landscaping fabric for the plants. The slits must be big enough to give the plants room to grow without weeds sprouting all over the exposed soil. Keep the landscaping fabric from bunching by smoothing the fabric and then pinning the edges with a landscape staple. Make sure the joints where the two sheets of fabric meets are set as you secure the landscaping fabric.

Cut an X into the landscaping fabric, dig a hole under the X mark and then start planting the new plants. Reposition the landscaping fabric over the soil to create the perfect fit. Finally, cover the landscaping fabric with a couple inches of mulch. Place the mulch around the new plants but keep it away from the plants’ stems.

Installation Tips and Tricks

Before installing the landscape fabric, enrich the soil with compost, peat moss, and other organic matter because you cannot amend the soil later. If you are unsure what types of soil amendments to use, have your soil checked at the local a county office that performs soil testing.

Always level the terrain by breaking up the clumped soil and raking the ground until smooth. This minimizes bunching as you lay the landscaping fabric. In addition, lay the landscaping fabric rough side down to keep the fabric in place.

Overlap the edges of the landscaping fabric pieces by at least 8 inches if you are using multiple pieces of fabric. Allow a 2-inch overhang around the landscaping fabric edges, just tuck the excess fabric underneath as you pin it in place. Skimping on landscaping fabric may cause weeds to sprout in places or worse, the fabric could come loose within a few weeks.
 
Always clear the landscape fabric of garden debris such as fallen leaves, flowers, etc., to inhibit weed growth. Water the plants as close to the stems as possible. Replace the mulch as it decomposes and never reuse in other parts of the garden.


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