Black on one side and brown on the other. Landscape fabric is really only good for one application. A lot of weeds come through the stones. The only way to get rid of it is to tear it out – not an easy job since it will break into smaller pieces as you go. What else do you suggest? Maybe. ft., up to $.80 per sq. I recall it being a daunting task with a rake, patience, and a lot of sweat. Landscape fabric is used as a weed barrier in fields, gardens and planting beds. I buy the nicer stuff that is supposed to last for years. I have used tar paper to cover and protect fig trees from New York winters, but I’ve heard tar paper may have unsafe chemical run off that could contaminate the fruit. Natural organic mulch, such as fallen leaves or pine needles, cannot replenish nutrients in the soil because the fabric acts as a barrier. Small holes allow the water to slowly seep into the The needle is inserted repeatedly at different locations around the plant. Water is pumped through the needle into the soil to insure thorough watering. Hey Lana! Use arborist wood chips which tend to be larger. And you’re right, that wouldn’t be very Zen-like…. Wood chips are organic material and will erode and their color will fade in time, whereas, bug screens (hidden under river rocks or lava rocks, will last longer than a human life a it will not break down in a waste dump landfill. If you “plan on keeping up with it”, it is much easier to pull plants out of the earth than it is pulling them out of fabric and earth combined. I just pulled up the fabric I placed this past spring in the walkways around my raised garden beds. Once I mulch heavily it lasts for many years. blocker material. Most gardening experts advise gardeners to avoid using petroleum products or products with chemicals around plants. Anyone who gardens where the mighty Canadian Thistle grows will agree – I’m convinced that thistle will grow through steel.. Landscape fabrics will suppress below-the-fabric weed seeds the first season, but airborne seeds that settle in organic mulch atop the fabric will germinate, and some will root. You can come over here and maintain my vegetable garden for me…. According to seasoned plant experts and botanist, it attracts unwanted harmful pests like ticks, sow bugs, termites, earwigs, ants, slugs and more. Hey thanks for the reply! This is especially true for those plants that are edible. Some of them are probably even edible. In some areas people use pecan shells – that is local and organic and works. Not to mention it DOES block out a lot of water from your established garden. Wood chips have not been found to be toxic – even walnut wood can be used without problems. When misconceptions areapplied ( I BLAME 3M) people can be very stubborn. He was making me a seed mat for wild flowers. By allowing the water to shed off the landscaped area, it can either flow into somewhere you don’t want water to go, such as a foundation or retaining wall, or it will flow off into a storm drain, carrying pollutants into our waterways and oceans, while increasing the demand for potable water in the landscaped area. Soil should not have more than 5% organic matter. And discovered there’s more than one kind!!!! No, two completely different products altogether. Both vegetable and flower plants do quite well. The bindweed was the most persistent, but there is a lot less than originally. We took it up because it looked a mess. People seem quite happy with the output of my garden, which has been fine for over 20 years. PP is a plastic, specifically polypropylene. My question is similar. Woven fabrics have less give than knitted fabrics which is good for filtration since if fabrics stretch (as knits do), the holes in between the fibers get larger and let more particles through. For the plants, I use a new-ish product : bales of chopped hay/straw, which is mostly seed free and easy to snuggle close to stems. But in no time at all you will see the landscaping fabric stick up through the mulch and then it looks terrible in your garden. I realize that weeds may still eventually grow through the barrier and rocks but I plan on keeping up with it. Conserves moisture : Adding this reduces surface evaporation, so less watering is needed. It does not take long and the dew worms, microbes and other soil life, which depends on air and food, either leave or die. roots or seedlings can penetrate but water flows thru like a filter material with little resistance. I just read through all of the comments, and I very much realize that this is an old post; hoping you still monitor it. But besides that only sweep occasionally. I would not worry about them. Once they start growing on top of the ” new” dirt, their roots get strong and just punch right through the fabric, becoming entangled into the fabric. “The water should run freely through it. Either a low sedum, or if you like something higher, try Stephanandra incisa ‘Crispa’. Everything was so inter-grown that I had to virtually rip out everything – not an easy task. Unless it is biodegradeable after many years which means you will have the same problem as regular stuff. This is also how I use landscape fabric. Roots will still grow into it and it will still show if there is not enough mulch on top. Weed seeds can still sprout in the mulch used to cover the fabric. My soil is fine, the water goes through it, and there are a lot less weeds. It worked like a dream. You can put down cardboard, but newspaper is better. The sad thing is lava rock is expensive but it retains its color for a long time. I couldn’t pull the grass up, there was just too much of it. SRW Weed Fabric is a commercial grade polypropylene fabric with high puncture resistance. After some research for a Japanese dry garden I found out that what they use are 1/4 inch irregular rock. It is less toxic than vinegar and does less damage to soil than plastic or cardboard, both of which harm soil life by excluding air and water. 1) Herbicide. What if I use this type of fabric instead of the plastic weed barrier? If you go to 5″ of small rocks you will get very few new weeds. A pre-emergent herbicide won’t harm established plants. Landscape pins, which sell separately for about $.10 per pin, are necessary for securing the fabric and can add another $.50 per sq. Then the weeds just grow right on top of the fabric. Yes of course you can water with overhead irrigation. Any type of barrier to the movement of water will back up the water, and then it starts running somewhere else. It is a black mesh type of plastic that is used extensively in landscaping to keep weeds out of your garden. No weeds. weed barrier (cardboard) Some brands offer UV protection to maintain the life of the fabric. Rain water never sits on the surface unless it is also doing so in uncovered areas of the yard, meaning we get 6″ in a day which can happen here. Give your neighbor some periwinkle (Vinca major), a groundcover that loves shade. Cut the lawn really short. Now they all have weeds and fabric coming up through the driveway! Landscapers want to install either pvc pipes underground from gutters, or make a swale with fabric, then river rock to keep the rocks and dirt separate so water will pass over the rocks. Soil In just one season, the fabric began to photo-degrade, and in some places weeds found enough organic matter to begin growing. the other lets ALL water and liquid fertilizer thru. Like drain field fabric, landscape fabric lets water and air move through the soil. More on bark dust here. None of this is good for the soil. For example, you can use Glyphosphate on Poison Ivy, but not for ‘cosmetic’ reasons? Does it keep the weeds out? If not do i need to cut out paper and remove debris and replant. The second is spun bond plastic made by spraying extremely fine (finer than hair) on a moving belt several inches thick and then pressed to a thin sheet. I have had an educationaĺ tour and head spinner reading all this. Instead of it lying in a landfill, it was recycled for better use in my garden and landscape plants. This also means that the soil temperature won't vary as much, protecting plants with delicate root systems. But they are so much easier to pull since they can’t seem to grow thru the fabric. Not trying to be cocky, I just can’t stand the stuff when I’m working with a client or something. However I disagree that it is bad. Using the more expensive landscape “weave” cloth will eliminate many of the problems you describe. Disclosure: participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for publishers to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites. Kill the grass before planting. I am not a landscaping nor garden expert but I found commercial landscape fabric immensely costly. Try Sunbelt by Dewitt. Robert, this is a great post. We need something that at least lets a bit of water in, as we’re on a bit of a slope and don’t want to send a waterfall of water to the neighbour’s yard. After 4-5 years the ugly fabric is under the hedge row and is not seen or you can remove then as the hedge row exclude its own weeds by being a solid hedge row. You can also apply newspapers and mulch on top. Seems like it works for some people and it doesn’t for other. Earthworms aerate the soil, so, without them, the ground beneath landscape fabric can become compact and unhealthy. Take our crash course in this material designed to inhibit weeds and keep soil from drying out. The rain seeps through the fabric to get at the plants and lawn watering does the same. And a wealth of info. Use a thicker layer of stones or smaller stones that are also thick. Thanks in advance! It was meant to last one season and then decay, which it did. I would not have a nitrogen layer. We were hoping to use carpet and then 4″ of mulch over it, but lost our used carpet source. Again, we’re only looking for a temporary fix. I don’t think any fabric is a good solution for this. Landscape fabric reduces the air reaching the soil, and prevents any new organic matter from getting to the surface of the soil. like 5%? Weed barrier cloth is no better for controlling weeds than a 4 inch layer of mulch. 3) Hand digging – its work, but it does work. I paid for a nearly maintenance free landscape and now I have tons of weeding grass to do. If I do some heavy mulching. RENEGADE GARDENER™ The lone voice of horticultural reason Don't ever lay landscape cloth or weed barrier on the ground before planting. Cost varies from around $.45 per sq. When I bought my house 7 years ago, I had a heck of a time getting up the old fabric that was being held tight by all of the weeds growing through it. I have a builder for a fayher in law so score a fair bit of it. Why not recycle and reuse bug screens, similar to wood chips idea. This grass is driving me nuts!!! My son spread perrinal wild flower seeds over my cloth like gray landscape rolls. I could cry with frustration. Why Can’t You Trust Gardening Information on the Internet & How to Bloom Houseplants? Or kill the grass first and then add the mulch. Thank you. Thanks from an Irish gardener, of sorts, currently in sandy France. Hello, I’ve never garden before, where I want to plant my vegetable garden has a lot of weeds. We provide guides like this ( to try and make sure people use it properly and therefore limiting the amount they need to use. Not sure about the glue, but microbes will almost certainly digest it too. It is not covered with mulch. The fabric is placed on the ground, between plants/crops, forming a barrier that allows air and water to pass through the fabric in order for plants to grow. The fabric certainly slows the rate at which the water passes through certainly, however the weed fabric wouldn’t suppress any weeds if it didn’t. Hi there, we are putting in a play set in our back yard and I want to know if 2 inches of play bark without weed barrier will be sufficient to keep weeds out. Will the seeds grow. so how about the PP non woven landscape fabric? So we just put down this fabric last weekend to try to kill the grass that has taken over our flower bed…. Your non-woven fabric will prevent dirt from getting into the gravel. Another factor that affects the amount that the fabric stretches is the actual fiber that the fabric is made out of. I tried pine bark nuggets but so light just blow away. I don’t know anything about dog runs. It probably lets air and water through better than landscape fabric. Usually my dogs don’t get in the area, but if they do with the stuff hurt them. Thank you so much for keeping gardeners honest! A little bit of weeding in cut holes the first year. Weeds and plants are both plants same result. I don’t know. Is it safe to use weed blocking fabric to cover my fig trees, or will there be chemical run off that might contaminate the figs we eat? It looks to me like water just sits on top and doesn't soak through. Hi 2) Sheet mulching, also called lasagna gardening: We are also putting a playground and I’m unsure if to put the barrier should we just make it flat and add bark/mulch won’t the grass still grow? 1 0. I thought landscape fabric would be preferable to black plastic, allowing the earthworms and microbes to continue to live in the soil. Hello, I’m new here, just stopped in to read an article about Blossom End Rot on tomatoes, which was great, and then noticed the articles on the right, and was curious if the articles on landscape fabric, and ‘DEET’ are as holistic as the BER article. I don’t know about hessian sacks. Is there an alternative to fabric? If you use a couple of inches of manure and compost, and cover with straw, that will kill the existing grass. Throughout my yard I have about 9 different flower beds piled higher then the grass. I also tried weed fabric and mulch on one area – less successfully. It's a 3.2oz woven poly fabric that lets tons of water and air through. Hi Robert, thank you for the great article! I’ve read posts by others on your blog who had the problem of trying to remove years’ old woven cloth covering a garden area. i have a few skeens of it and would love to use it if it will work. As to the water pooling or puddling -- the wholesale grower I used to work for used commercial grade landscape fabric to cover the can beds to keep weeds down. It is not biodegradable unless it is specifically labeled & has additives to allow it to break down – so it wouldn’t be pure PP. Before you try this idea ask your local garden expert as their advice supersedes any home remedies. I moved out and they moved in. I just mulch my plants and sprinkle down some preen. Cardboard will degrade over time, and in a year or two it is gone. Its all about how and where you use it. Properly installed landscape fabric will allow the liquid to soak through, providing both water and nutrients to the plants in the area. Many of those were re-landscapes. I am also a big fan of employing strong local youths at a fair hourly rate for these type of projects. I mulched with woodchips and found that after two years it was great soil for weeds. Weed fabric is really only suitable in certain situations certainly, but I have to say, if you buy a quality product then it will last for many many years and will allow for the penetration of water and through-flow of nutrients. I built a 60′ by 100′ section of cedar raised beds on my farm. Expert advice from Bob Vila, the most trusted name in home improvement, home remodeling, home repair, and DIY. Pull all the weeds first, then set your stones, then keep up with it. Three years later still working. Lasagna method has gotten a lot of press and it works quite well for getting rid of the grass. some clover and other weeds) into vegetable beds and I am thinking of using sheet mulching/lasagna mulching. Straw is a much better solution for soil and soil life. I plan to lay down 3 inches of rock. The soil below the landscape fabric is important, and you don’t want to starve it for air or nutrients for years because this will create an unhealthy environment for any plants you decide to place there. Good luck..Btw, bug window screen fabric is far more porous and will not suffocate your garden projects like landscaping fabric or chemicals sprays that are not good for the environment, shrubbery or animals. I am so glad that I stumbled onto your website while researching weed barrier cloth. The key is that it is organic, and that it is local. Your gravel needs to be protected so it can permeate the water through it. Is Tea a Good Fertilizer for Houseplants? What do you recommend to control weeds. Being organic minded didn’t want to spray it 1st. I’ve used various brands of landscape fabric over the years so it’s become multiple layers over the soil, mulch and layered over each other. Water does tend to run off – but a lot does not run through it. Great advice. You may get a few years out of it, but eventually more soil will cover the fabric, and seeds will fall, and you’ll be pulling ‘weeds’ out of the fabric. In my case, I gots rolls of it for free and they were happy to get rid of it. Eventually, I will go to regenerative gardening, but if I’m going to pull weeds, it will have to be raised beds. And for protecting the environment. It might seem like you are adding a lot, but most of this manure and compost will be degraded, and the amount of remaining organic matter will be much less once you are ready to plant. This is how landscape fabric is advertised to work. Genevieve says. Nitrogen is the one nutrient that moves very quickly in soil. CARDBOARD. Hello – I have a question – we have a large area that we have previously covered with mulch =however my husband goes crazy with the leaf blower each fall to remove leaves – however it also removes most of the bark mulch each year – is there any heavier kind of a product that could withstand the leaf blowing each fall ? I am thinking of covering with 3in of beach gravel and, prior to looking at you column, I was proposing a good fabric cover underneath. LOVE YOUR SITE, VERY EDUCATIONAL HOWEVER i NEED HELP!!! it is relatively expensive for a product that does almost nothing. Any suggestions? ft., depending on the brand and thickness. Then built the beds on top. It is by oz sq yard to heavy depending We’re trying to smother/suffocate the American Trumpet Vine, and we’ve hemmed the roots in by digging 3′ trenches and inserting sheet metal so it doesn’t grow past our mulch. Insidious, how these product lines have grown. Would it be safe to use wood chips then the soil dirt on top to plant the vegetables. The first is plastic sheet with small Perforated Landscape holes. My First Vegetable Garden – A New Course Offered by University of Guelph Arboretum. The issues become less as the pore size increases, but then it also becomes useless for suppressing weeds. You might have to do this all summer to get rid of all grass. While it looks great once it is first applied, after time it looks drab after being exposed to the elements. It’s said that it’s air permeable, biodegradable? would you use duck fabric for weed barriers in an above ground flowered? I have an old weed filter with pebbles on top and it has only lasted 14 years; In the UK we’ve had a lot of rain- moss builds up on my weed filter and decays it- I will look for a better mulch method now as the weeds and grasses are taking over the whole of the surface area where the weed filter is supposed to be working. hello.. I’m looking for something to only use for 2-3 years before pulling it up again; we aren’t planting anything in it, and will be just temporarily landscaping over it to wait it out. Plant ground cover. They all say they are air permeable – and they are to some extent, but less than no fabric at all. Thank you. Thanks! This is mostly a gardening myth. It’s impossible to weed once the weed’s roots make their way through and below it. But after reading this that seems useless. And, btw, strawberries proliferate in the rows, and are deliciously productive. I don’t worry about “doing as well as they should”. Is it worth us putting that back up with stones over the top of it again? Need I say more? Yes it lasts for years. For longevity, woven landscape fabric has greater durability in the garden. is gone. In no time at all you have the perfect seed mix sitting right above the weed barrier, and weeds start to grow. We live in an area where there is lots of huge 50-100 year old oak and other tree’s. Not only did it NOT prevent weeds from growing, but the runners and weeds got trapped in the fabric, making it impossible for me to manage the four 50 foot rows that I had anticipated would bring much joy and production.. In permanent landscapes, plant roots will grow into and through the landscape fabric. What a pain that was! Thank you. He proceeded to put down landscaping fabric almost everywhere. So I thought maybe use hessian sacks. Julian with De La Cruz Landscape Maintenance does an awesome job here in Portland. The worms are loving it ! The reality is that some rain will go through the holes, but much of it flows over top of the cloth and away from your plants, which remain dry. A bale goes a long way. Our chief hope is to kill the trumpet vine roots – we will wake up the soil after pulling up the weed suppressant if we need to after only a few years. It’s very shaded and my neighbor up the hill from me doesn’t believe in grass, so her whole yard is weeds and sticks and moldy leaves she doesn’t mulch or remove. Very reluctant to use herbicide to kill the grass, even if it is a relatively small area. Next year, I’ll go with layered cardboard with a wood-chip mulch (the latter for aesthetic reasons since I have neighbors). I used them in some of my paths, and for the first 2 years they looked great. Just commenting on your premise that landscape fabric does not work. It is possible to have soil that is too hot and so people in warm climates may not want to use it with their vegetables for that reason. It was a mess. I remove it in the fall. I strongly discourage the use of any landscaping fabric. If you use more mulch to hide the weed barrier, wind and water deposits soil particles and plant remains onto the cloth. My flowers and vegetables grow beautifully ! This is when you want to use stone (such as river stone or decomposed granite) instead of mulch. This is especially true if you use organic mulch, such as wood chips, which will eventually degrade and become a virtual plant-growing medium on top of the fabric. But only if you also invest in a lot of automation as you have described. What does landscape fabric feel like? It has excellent water drainage and holds up well in the sun. I use long screws to hold corners in place. I went to several garden experts before trying it myself, and they unanimously thought it was a great idea, economical and imaginative. Weed barrier and landscape fabric are two totally different things. Do you have any other recommendations? Yes, you are correct that; some tiny roots weave through the bug screen fabric, but my idea has been maintenance free for over 12 years. I bought a house that has stones lining the back of the house. It either gets washed away, or moves into the air. The weed barrier in the blog is quite different than using cardboard. Thank you! Hi Robert I was just about to go out to buy fabric when I found your post. What type of wood chips do you recommend? The areas where I’ve removed it are much easier to weed rather than just snapping them off the fabric surface, leaving the roots underneath. The mulch slides all over and exposes it. Smaller trenches are normally around 5 to 6-inches. Add wood chip mulch on top of the soil. I assume by nitrogen layer you are talking about adding nitrogen fertilizer, either organic or synthetic. Does anyone have a suggestion for HOW to remove it? These look nice, and oak especially lasts the growing season. Have you done side by side studies to quantify the amount of water going through your fabric vs no fabric? In order to install the fabric, large staples are used to secure it to the underlying soil. I am desperate. The second summer some emerged and were easily pulled out – particularly the brambles and nettles. The landscape fabric should be removed after a couple of years once the tree is large enough and strong enough to compete with the weeds. I hate weed barrier fabric. It was common in my neighborhood for all the gravel driveways to have fabric installed first (same contractor). I get almost no weeds after about 4 years. With a lot of muscle and patience! This medium-duty weed barrier is thin for such projects, but still tough enough to last. I can’t keep up especially with the neighbor with a whole yard of several kinds. One thing you should note is that in heavier rains water will pool on the fabric until it has time to drain through. If you have a lot of grass and weeds I suggest killing it first with Glyphosate (if you have time). The Ph of bark dust is not conducive to weed growth, at least for 3-6 month. Whether you’re new to gardening or have been at it so long your thumb is a deep shade of green, you may have seen rolls of landscape fabric at DIY stores and gardening centers—and become intrigued. Weed barrier cloth is porous (ie it has holes in it) and it is advertised as ‘letting the rain flow through’. Many perennial weeds can grow quite a distance under ground and since landscape fabric comes in 3 and 4 foot wide roles they only need to grow a few feet to find an opening. There is the thin, woven stuff and there is the thicker, more plastic like stuff. Do I understand correctly that the ban is loaded with exceptions? To me it seems that too much organic matter in the soil (not on top as much) can hinder seed germination because water drains through it too fast. We have about 3-4 inches of mulch on top. Glenda Taylor, Bob Vila, 10 Useful Items You Should Keep on Your Nightstand, 9 Crazy Gadgets That Cost More Than Your Mortgage, 8 Best Buys for an Outdoor Kitchen You Can Afford, 16 Landscaping Trends You Can Expect to See This Year, 6 Rock-Solid Reasons to Pick Concrete Flooring. If you use a thin cover of mulch, weeds do not grow in the mulch because it is just too dry there. Thanks for writing. I hate that this stuff is petroleum-based and will end up as yet another source of plastic pollution. You’ll probably need to with organic mulches that degrade and thin out over time; gravel and rock mulch remain pretty much the same as when first applied. The best thing for trees and shrubs is to leave the soil alone and get them to grow in it. Mulch 2 feet thick might get rid of bindweed. I would use Roundup. All was good until this spring. Do Marigolds Stop Cabbage Worms – Is this Good Companion Planting? Best advice to get good quality soil back? 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