Landscape fabric is not a permanent product and if soil is placed on top of it, weed seeds will germinate and grow.
For those of you already putting 2+2 together and not coming up with 4, landscape fabrics are not designed to stop everything from passing through. Landscape plastic is a completely different product and a discussion for another day!
•Soil or other organic matter on top of the fabric will host weed seed
•Weeds will eventually grow up through the fabric making their removal difficult
•Plant roots (of the plants you want to keep!) can grow into the fabric and the plant will be damaged when the fabric is removed
•As the fabric deteriorates the beauty of the garden bed is negatively affected
Geotextiles, or filter fabrics, are permeable fabrics that when used with soil have the ability to separate, filter, reinforce, protect or drain. Geotextiles for the home gardener are usually called landscape fabric. Yes, landscape fabric can slow down weeds, but it cannot stop weeds completely.
Landscape fabric can be a temporary solution for an area but it's clearly not a long-term or permanent solution to stop weeds.
And while some of us love the rhythmic, mindless chore of weeding, we know the smart way to garden is to stop weeds however we can.
Linda Chalker-Scott, Ph.D., extension horticulturist and associate professor at the Puyallup Research and Extension Center, Washington State University, is our expert resource.
Installing landscape fabric isn't much harder than spreading out a bed sheet, but it's important to prepare the ground properly to ensure a flat surface and prevent damage to the fabric. It's also important to overlap and secure the edges of the fabric to prevent weeds and cover material from getting through the seams.
Landscape fabric is a weed barrier, but not all weed barriers are landscape fabric. Cheap, thin plastic barriers are far inferior to quality fabric and can tear very easily. It never pays to use the cheap stuff because you'll most likely need to replace it sooner or later. By contrast, quality landscape fabric is long-lasting and is resistant to sun damage and tears. Some products are guaranteed for up to 20 years.
Another benefit of quality fabric is that it's reusable. If you decide to change an area that is covered with fabric and mulch, simply remove the mulch, unpin the fabric, shake off the soil and other material, and roll up the fabric to keep it for future use. While it may be a little dirty, reused fabric works just as well as new material.
Watch Now: How to Install Landscape Fabric for Weed Control
Landscape fabric works fine on its own, but it’s usually best to cover it with a decorative mulch, rock, or other ground cover. The fabric separates the cover material from the soil, keeping stone and gravel clean and slowing the inevitable breakdown of organic mulch. Black plastic (another type of weed barrier) performs a similar function, but plastic is prone to tearing, and it forms an impervious barrier that prevents water and air from reaching desirable plants.
Laying down landscape fabric is the easiest and often the most effective method for fighting weeds. It prevents weed seeds from germinating in the soil or from landing and taking root from above the soil. And because landscape fabric is "breathable," it lets water, air, and some nutrients to flow down to the soil to feed desirable plants.
Working With Landscape Fabrics
Most quality landscape fabric is made of spun synthetic-fiber material that blocks sunlight but permits the passage of some water and air. The material is tough, but it can be damaged by sharp rocks, tools, and roots. For this reason, it’s a good idea to rake and smooth the ground before laying the fabric. Many fabrics are UV-protected but will last longer if they are not directly exposed to sunlight. A layer of mulch or other ground material provides this coverage.