Laying down and installing landscape fabric is probably the easiest way to fight weeds, and it is generally the most effective method, as well. It stops weed seeds from germinating in your valuable soil or from taking root above the soil itself.
Since landscape fabric is made using permeable materials, it allows air, water, and nutrients to soak into the soil to feed the plants. It also blocks sunlight from entering the soil, which helps starve any pesky weeds and prevents them from growing.
Even though landscape fabric works perfectly fine by itself, it helps to cover it with some kind of decorative rock, mulch, or ground cover. The fabric will separate the soil from the cover material so that the stone remains clean. Also, the mulch will take longer to break down into soil.
Knowing how to lay landscape fabric around plants with little effort is the first step in the process. So let’s take a look at how to do it.
Laying the Fabric Around Plants
Before you can do anything, you will need to measure the area on which you plan to lay the fabric. Landscape fabric is sold in rolls of varying lengths and widths, commonly 3x50ft, 3x100ft, 4x100ft, and more. You can expect to pay somewhere around $10 for the smallest size and quantity and up to $80 for the larger quantities of fabric.
After you have measured the area, you will need to ensure that the landscape fabric you’re using is the correct size mesh to suit the needs of the area around your plants. You want to choose a mesh that is as small as possible so that no weeds or other invasive plants grow through it. However, it also needs to be large enough to allow water and air to penetrate and nourish the plants beneath it.
Good landscape fabric will also allow fertilizer to sink through and reach the plants. If you’re able to place the fabric in an area that is protected from sunlight, it should last forever and can help you control soil erosion from sprinklers and rain.
If you’re able to, try to pick a landscaping fabric that is thermally spun-bonded. These kinds of fabrics have been proven to be the best way to prevent the growth of weeds, and they are much better than loosely woven or needle-punched fabrics.
You want to avoid using plastic sheeting to stop weeds at all costs. Even though they are capable of halting the growth of weeds, they also do not allow water and air to soak into the soil and nourish your plants. This will suffocate and kill the plants that you’re trying to protect.
Now, it’s time to prepare your soil. Start by getting rid of any grass, weeds, and undesirable plants around the area of your plants. After that, you should get rid of any stones and twigs by raking them out of the soil. If you skip this step, any sharp rocks that were left in the soil can and will tear through the fabric, ruining its integrity and effectiveness.
Next, lay the fabric out in a straight line. When it reaches the area of your plants, cut a notch out that is big enough to fit around the base of the plant. Adjust the size of the notch so that the fabric surrounds the plant’s base. Keep laying the fabric out, and repeat the process of notching it for all the plants in the bed.
Then, after you have laid all of the fabric, you must secure it using the right landscape pegs, pins, or staples. Ensure that you’re using enough fasteners, placing them no more than 5 feet apart.
Finally, because you can’t leave the landscape fabric uncovered, the final step of the process involves covering it with a kind of protective material. Most people choose to use mulch or decorative stones. Tree bark is also an option if you’re looking for a more natural, organic look.
Spread your desired cover over the fabric using a rake, but be careful not to accidentally snag and tear the fabric with the prongs of the rake. If you choose to use stones, you should ensure that you clean them at least once a month by taking them off of the fabric and hosing them down.
Landscape Fabrics: Things To Remember
While landscape fabric is a barrier for weeds, not all barriers for weeds are landscape fabric. Thin, cheap plastic barriers exist, but they are far worse in quality when compared to landscape fabrics. Plus, they tear extremely easily.
Using the cheap stuff never pays off, because you will have to replace them sooner or later. On the other hand, landscape fabric that is of high quality will generally last you longer and is also resistant to tearing and damage caused by the sun. In fact, some landscape fabrics can last you for up to 20 years.
One of the greatest benefits of using landscape fabrics is that they can be used over and over. If you decide that you want to change the area that you cover with mulch and fabric, all you need to do is take the mulch off, release the fabric, dust off any soil that’s on top of it, roll or fold the fabric up, and store it away for future use. It might be a bit dirty, but it works just as well as new fabric.
Many of the quality landscape fabrics on the market are made from spun synthetic-fiber material that blocks sunlight but allows some air and water to pass through. The material is durable, but it can still be damaged by tools, sharp rocks, and roots.
This is why it’s generally a good idea to smooth and rake the ground before you lay the fabric down. Most fabrics are resistant to UV rays, but you can make them last even longer if you put them in an area where they won’t be exposed to direct sunlight.