A person laying a landscape fabric
ECO gardener

Landscape fabric -- though growers have different reasons for using it, everyone agrees that it’s one versatile gardening tool. It’s a must for many reasons, more so if you’re growing your crops organically.

Although gardening is a relaxing and eco-friendly activity, some tasks can be pretty taxing. Removing the weeds, controlling pests, preserving the garden’s look, all these tasks could take a toll on your back. That's where landscape garden fabric comes in. This nifty tool makes most gardening tasks easy and quick.

Landscape fabric is a solid plastic sheet made of woven fibers with perforated holes. It is used to eliminate weeds in the garden and promote plant growth. It has many applications and comes in different grades - heavy-duty landscape fabric is thicker for better weed control. In contrast, thinner ones are designed for optimum water absorption and air circulation.

If you’ve been meaning to get landscape fabric for the garden but unsure how to use it properly, we’ve made this guide for you! Let’s explore the many ways to use landscape fabric plus some professional tips for you.

What is the Best Way to Use Landscape Fabric?

The best way to use landscape fabric depends on the kind of product you’ll use. Landscape fabric comes in four different types, these are:

  • Woven
  • Non-Woven
  • Spun
  • Perforated

Using Woven Landscape Fabric

Woven landscape fabric is the most common product of its kind. It’s made from polypropylene with linen fibers woven into the material to create a durable sheet of landscape fabric. The sheet is not completely solid; it has holes that allow air, water, and nutrients to seep through the earth while blocking out the sun and preventing weeds from sprouting.

Woven landscape fabric.

Woven landscape fabric is best used around trees, shrubs, and flower beds. Essentially, woven landscape fabric should be used for low-maintenance spots in the garden, like a garden bed with plants that do not get changed often. If you are setting the landscape fabric in places that get a lot of sun, we suggest getting those that are UV-treated.

Using Non-Woven Landscape Fabric

Non-woven landscape fabric is either made of polyester or polypropylene. It’s the least porous of all types of landscape fabrics, so it’s not typically used for growing crops. Non-woven landscape fabric is best used for blocking sunlight completely in rock and gravel paths. It can be installed around beds as well but not near the plants themselves because the material impedes the nutrient and water exchange between the plants and the soil.

Non-woven landscape fabric works by preventing rocks and gravel from sinking into the soil and ruining the look of your outdoor space. It is also used beneath stone pavers and large-scale hardscaping.

Using Spun Landscape Fabric

This product is crafted from polyester or polypropylene and layers of bonded polyester fibers. It’s a tough, thick, heavy-duty landscape fabric that will last for years and years when taken care of properly. The thickness will vary from product to product but generally, spun landscape fabric is very heavy-duty.

Spun landscape fabric.

As for permeability, it depends on the thickness too. Some spun landscape fabric products have tiny holes for better air circulation, while others are impermeable. Between the two, the permeable, thin spun landscape fabric is more versatile. It’s used to control weeds as well as a rocks and gravel barrier for hardscaping.

Thick spun landscape fabric, on the other hand, is only used for irrigation and drainage. It is also used to maintain wall applications, prevent water seepage, or ward off root growths.

Using Perforated Landscape Fabric

The most affordable type of landscape fabric to get is the perforated one. Perforated landscape fabric is made of lightweight polypropylene and sold precut with perforations or small holes where you’ll set your plants. Because it’s thin and lightweight, the landscape fabric allows moisture, air, and nutrients to seep into the earth. But it’s not the most durable.

Perforated landscape fabric.

Because of the large holes, the material is weaker. It’s not the best product to use in places that get a lot of foot traffic and animal activity. We don’t recommend using this product in places ridden with sizable roots because this will shorten the life of the landscape fabric.

3 Easy Steps to Install Landscape Fabric

Ready to install landscape fabric in your garden? You can install it on your own! Here is a step by step guide on how:

Step 1: Clear the Vegetation

Using a hoe, a shovel, or a similar garden tool, start digging on the spot where you’ll install the landscape garden and clearing out the roots in the area. If you’re using a hoe, swing the hoe up, then bring the blade down to the ground, striking the earth at a 45-degree angle. You need to reach the soil deep enough to get under the roots of the vegetation then lift the roots out in one swift motion. Be sure to avoid digging near your crops, or you might end up killing your precious plants in the process.

Step 2: Level the Soil

Once the area is free from roots, you’ll need a garden rake or a bow rake to remove unwanted debris as well as to level the soil. Using the garden rake, rid the area of small rocks, twigs, and leftover uprooted weeds. Rake the area until the soil surface is flat, smooth, and clean.

A person leveling the soil

Step 3: Lay the Landscape Fabric

Roll the landscape fabric out in a way that is parallel to the area being covered. Cut the material as needed with a sharp utility knife but be sure not to cut too closely, or you might end up cutting too short. Overlap the pieces of landscape fabric by at least 6 inches or so. If the landscape fabric has a dull and shiny side, check the instruction, so the right side faces up.

A person leveling the soil

Use stones or heavy objects to weigh the landscape fabric down. Once you’re sure that the landscape fabric is set correctly, use the fabric staples to set the material in place. Get a hammer or a small hand maul to strike each fabric staple, driving a staple every 10 feet or so along the edges and seams. Trim the edges of the fabric as needed after stapling it in place.

Optional Steps

Planting Through the Landscape Fabric

If you are adding plants in the area, get a utility knife or a box cutter, then make an X-shape incision in the landscape fabric. Make one hole for every plant. The hole should be big enough to dig a hole for the root ball of the plant. Pull the flaps, use a trowel or a shovel to dig a hole, and pop the plant into the hole. Cover the plant with the soil and cover the base of the plants with the flaps. We recommend making a few small holes in the landscape fabric so its durability won’t be affected.

Add Mulch

The step of adding mulch enhances the look of the covered area. You can use ground covers like wood chips, pine needles, chipped brush, wood shavings, etc., as mulch. The mulch should be no more than 2-inches high for full coverage. You can also use gravel or decorative rocks or stones to cover the landscape fabric.

Use a garden rake to spread the mulching material over the area being covered, making sure to level the layer of mulch without puncturing holes in the landscape fabric.

When to Call a Landscaping Professional

Although landscape fabric is easy to install, the project could turn into a DIY nightmare if you’ve no idea what you’re doing. If you’re unable to install the landscape fabric on your own because you just don’t have the time or the experience, you can always call a landscaping professional to do this for you.

Buy landscape fabric.

Do it if you are covering a too-large area, if you’re unsure what kind of landscape fabric works for a specific outdoor space area, or if you feel that the seams are not secured enough by the staples. On the lookout for landscape fabric and staples for your outdoor space? Click here to shop now!

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