Landscape fabric is known for being tough as nails with a lifespan of several years to more than a decade with proper care. But that doesn’t mean you should set and forget about the landscape fabric once it’s been installed. You still need to care for it to extend its life and improve its suppression of weed growth.
You’ve learned about the basics of landscape fabric and its difference from black plastic. Now let’s talk about maintaining your landscape fabric so it will last for years to come.
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How to maintain your landscape fabric?
Go for UV-Treated: While tough as nails, landscape fabric is not impervious to harsh weather conditions. If you are setting the landscape fabric in a spot with a lot of sun, it’s best to get the UV-treated landscape fabric so the material won’t break down from constant sun exposure.
Choose Professional Grade: Not all landscape fabrics are created equally; some are more likely to break apart faster than others. If you want to maintain the look of your garden for years to come, choose professional-grade, heavy-duty landscape fabric. Yes, they’re expensive, but the durability and overall quality of the material will be worth it. Remember, you get precisely what you pay for, and being cheap means constant replacement.
Ament the Soil: Before installing the landscape fabric, be sure to boost the soil's nutrient profile. Once the landscape fabric has been installed, you cannot amend the soil anymore. You don’t want to put all the hard work of installing the landscape fabric to waste by ripping it out months later. Get a soil sample, take it to your local extension office, and assess it to determine what amendments to add.
Level the Terrain: This sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many growers don’t level the terrain enough before installing the landscape fabric. If the terrain is not leveled, the hard clods will end up puncturing a hole into the landscape fabric. The soil has to be smooth and even. Use a rake to break up the hard clods and remove unwanted debris before laying the landscape fabric on the ground.
Always Rough Side Down: Some landscape fabrics have a smooth and a rough side. The rough side should always be facing down. The rough texture is designed for adherence. The landscape fabric will stay in place when laid with the rough or coarse side down.
Use Appropriate Product: You’ll need to measure the spot you’ll cover before buying the landscape fabric to know how many rolls or sheets you’ll use. Do not skimp on the material; otherwise, the product cannot do its job well. The edges of the landscape fabric should be overlapped by at least 8 inches if you are using multiple pieces. You’ll also need to leave a 2-inch overhang around the edges that you will tuck once the landscape fabric has been stapled in place.
Use Heavy Duty Pins: Use durable landscape pins to set the landscape fabric in place. A pin should be inserted every 8 to 10 inches along the edges of the material. Spread the pins every 12 inches apart in the center of the fabric. Using fewer pins will cause the material to shift and eventually rip within a few weeks.
Use a Sharp Knife or Scissors: If you’re cutting a hole for inserting landscape plants, cutting the sheets, or trimming the edges, always use a sharp utility knife or scissors to make a clean cut and avoid shredding, which may lead to large rips.
Cover with Mulch: Adding 2 to 3 inches of mulch helps improve the look of the landscaped area while also extending the life of the landscape fabric. Mulch blocks out UV rays that could weaken the material and acts as a barrier from harsh winds.
How long will landscape fabric last?
It depends on the quality of the landscape fabric. Cheap stuff tears easily. Thin landscape fabric with perforated holes will last for several months to a few years if properly managed. Heavy-duty landscape fabrics are known to last for several years to a decade or more.
Does landscape fabric need to be replaced?
Yes, landscape fabric should be replaced every couple of years when it’s starting to break down in places or if there are obvious rips. If the product is no longer doing its job to suppress weeds, it’s a sign that it should be replaced. Again, you can add mulch to help block out the sun and prevent stubborn weeds from sprouting on top of the fabric. You can pull out any weeds that make it to the surface of the material.
How often should you change landscape fabric?
As long as the landscape fabric remains intact and it’s still doing its job, it doesn’t need replacing. But it’s normal to change landscape fabric every 2 to 3 years. Newer products have reinforced materials so that these landscape products could last for decades with proper care.
If the area is looking chaotic with lots of weeds sprouting, the landscape needs to be replaced. If tree roots are starting to cause the landscape fabric’s pins to come undone, you have to cover the area again to adjust. And it’s best to use high-quality, heavy-duty landscape fabric, especially around trees and large shrubs.
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