Gardening can be a huge chore for many people, however, some people take up gardening as a hobby. The relaxation of spending time in your garden, taking care of the plants, planting flowers, and watering can feel rewarding. But even those who take up gardening as a hobby might feel overburdened by all the maintenance that is required to upkeep the garden. Now and then you may require certain equipment or items to help you work on your garden and a visit to a DIY store becomes a must. During your visits to the DIY store, we bet, you may be wondering and intrigued by the rolls of black fabric on the large industrial shelves. These are landscaping fabrics and we’re going to guide you on these, landscaping fabric pros and cons and other decisions to help you understand if there is a place for these on your property.

What is landscaping fabric?

Made from textile materials, landscaping fabric can be found in rolls at your local DIY gardening store. The fabric is used around your most prized possession plants or any plant, in general, to prevent the weeds or plants in unwanted regions. Different types of landscaping fabric can either be made organically or completely from a textile material. You might even find brands that make these kinds of fabric from recycled materials which is great if you’re a zero-waste person or are conscious about the environment.

What is landscaping fabric

Before we head to landscaping fabric pros and cons, you must know what landscaping fabric does. The fabric covers your garden and eliminates sunlight in places where you don’t want sunlight. Sunlight helps in the process of photosynthesis thus aiding the growth of unwanted plants in your garden. This unwanted growth can mess up your garden or affect its aesthetics.

Imagine having a garden with red flowers all aligned perfectly and there is a patch of weed in the middle. Or having red flowers all aligned perfectly and then some are scattered across the garden. This can make your garden look unappealing especially if you have guests over and if you have a green thumb like us, this becomes unacceptable.

The landscaping fabric does have tiny holes that seep the water through helping your plants grow as well. These are ideal for homeowners looking for easy garden maintenance. Are these beneficial or better in any way when compared to the regular lawn that you have? Let’s discuss landscaping fabric pros and cons, costs, and some tips on using landscaping fabric in your garden.

Cost of landscape fabric

Before we go to landscaping fabric pros and cons, it is essential to understand how much it costs. This will help you in assessing the feasibility of this DIY project. The cost of installing a landscape fabric depends on where you live and the quality of fabric you get. In many cases, installation costs can amount to $40 to $50 per 100 square feet. Since you’re going to be installing the fabric yourself (as a DIY project), you can easily save on this money so let’s look at the cost of the fabric itself.

According to 2021 remodeling reports, landscape fabric can cost you anywhere between $1 to $1.2 per square foot for average basic quality. Expect to pay between $1.4 to $1.6 per square foot of good quality and between $1.65 to $1.85 per square foot of the best quality landscape fabric. We recommend sticking with the last two options rather than getting an average quality landscape fabric as good quality will last you a long time.

Landscaping fabric pros and cons

If you ask a gardener about landscape fabric and where to place it, they will let you know the best way to utilize the benefits of landscape fabric is by placing it around trees and shrubs. They will also tell you to add mulch to the landscaping fabric so that it doesn’t look out of place. If you’re not in the mood to ask your gardener or you don’t have a gardener for your home, then worry not. We will let you know some of the landscaping fabric pros and cons for you to make a conscious decision on whether or not it is good for you.

Landscaping fabric pros and cons: Benefits of using landscape fabric

There are several benefits to using landscape fabric. In this section of landscaping fabric pros and cons, we will look at some of the benefits of using this fabric in your garden.

Benefits of using landscape fabric

Prevents weed growth

You may have heard that landscaping fabric is perfect for the prevention of weed growth but no one would’ve told you how it helps in its prevention. Landscaping fabric is a textile material that does not allow sunlight to pass through it. Weed or any other plants require sunlight to grow. The fabric blocks sunlight wherever it is placed affecting the growth of unwanted plants or weeds. If there are seeds found in your garden soil, the blockage of sunlight prevents these seeds from sprouting.

Since the landscaping fabric aids in the prevention of weed growth, homeowners require fewer herbicides or none at all to combat weed spread or its growth. This can help you save thousands of dollars depending on how long you intend to live on your property. Many homeowners spend ridiculous amounts of money on herbicides to eliminate weed or buy equipment to pluck out the weed plants from their roots. Landscaping fabric helps you save all that money and also a lot of time.

Retain soil moisture

Plants require the right amount of water to grow and sustain. That’s already a known fact among enthusiast gardeners and even newbies. However, what many people fail to realize is the water retention capacity of the soil. Certain countries can experience hot seasons where evaporation happens at a faster rate than countries that have a cooler climate. Hotter climates can dry up the soil faster and therefore evaporate the water retained by the soil. This can affect the growth of the plants. Landscape fabric prevents sunlight from hitting the soil, therefore, ensuring that the soil remains moist for a longer period. This will ensure that your plants are lush, colorful, and healthy.

Erosion control

Oftentimes, you may have seen how landslides happen on slopes. Trees and their roots help hold the soil together to ensure that the land is secured in place. Landslides are caused due to soil erosion. Landscaping fabric helps in erosion control on slopes as it covers the ground from any erosion damage that can be caused by heavy rains, wind, or snowfall.

Landscaping fabric pros and cons: Why do some gardeners avoid landscape fabric?

In the above section, landscaping fabric pros and cons, we have mentioned the benefits of using landscape fabric. However, not everyone is using landscape fabric. Many gardeners may tell you that landscape fabric is not a good material to use or that they try to avoid using it. Why is that?

Inhabitable for earthworms

Friendly earthworms are known to aerate the soil which is perfect for the growth of plants in your garden. If you cover the soil with landscaping fabric, these earthworms can not come to the surface of the soil to breathe and therefore will eventually perish. Once your soil is completely rid of friendly earthworms, you may slowly start to notice the soil getting unhealthy and also very compact. This is why some gardeners avoid the use of landscape fabric.

Lack of nutrients

Where does your garden or soil get its nutrients from? The shedding of the leaves in autumn, the falling of pine needles, and the environment provide the necessary nutrients to the soil which creates suitable conditions for plants to grow. If you cover your soil with landscape fabric, it won’t allow the leaves to decompose and contribute nutrients to the soil. Organic mulch decomposes in the soil, however, with the fabric, it will not decompose in the soil and waste away.

Growth of weeds

Yes, we did say that it does prevent weed growth however, weed can easily grow on the mulch that you used to cover the landscape fabric. Weed seeds can transfer from one place to the other through wind and if it lands on the mulch, you may have trouble removing the weed as its roots can get stuck in the tightly woven fabric. Although chances of this are less, it will take you a lot of time to remove weeds if that were to happen.

Now that we’ve discussed landscaping fabric pros and cons, let’s look at how to take care of the weed that might grow on the fabric.

Removing weeds from landscape fabric

In the previous section, landscaping fabric pros and cons, we looked at how weed seeds can reach the organic mulch used to cover the fabric and grow. There is a solution to this.

The pre-emergent herbicide will help in preventing the weed seeds from sprouting on mulch. Some herbicides will affect your plants, however, pre-emergent herbicides will not affect your already grown plants. This is a great option if your mulch has seen the growth of weeds. Try to change the mulch or add more to the mulch as possible so that if there are seeds, they will not grow and sprout.

Best practices for using landscaping fabric

Now that you know the landscaping fabric pros and cons, you can look at your gardening needs and decide whether landscaping fabric is the way to go for you. If you decide to go for landscaping fabric then here are some best practices for using the textile material.

Best practices for using landscaping fabric

Use high-quality landscape fabric

A piece of thicker and heavier fabric will keep your landscape fabric intact for years to come. If you go for a cheaper material or low-grade landscape fabric, it can deteriorate within a year which can add to your costs and also take time in replacing the fabric. Good quality fabric is heavy and can feel properly woven if you run your fingers through it. Cheap quality fabric is light in weight and you’ll be able to feel the stitches or the bad weave of the fabric.

Add compost to the soil

Once you add the landscape fabric, note that it is not possible to add compost or fertilizers, or organic compounds to aid the growth of plants without having to remove the fabric. This can be time-consuming hence before you lay the fabric, add your choice of compost to your soil. This will not only help you save time but also aid the growth of your plants.

Flatten the soil

Before you go about laying the landscape fabric on the soil, grab a rake and start raking the soil. This will help break up any clumps that may be found in the soil. Once that is done, start to level the soil up so that the fabric does not have an uneven feel to it. It should be laid smoothly, so take your time flattening the soil. Don’t push the soil together too much as the soil requires air to breathe and remain healthy.

Rough side goes down

Now is the time you start to lay down your landscape fabric. Try to feel the fabric. If you feel one side is rougher than the other, that side needs to go down while the other should be facing upwards. This is because the fabric can move with the wind or any other force. A rough side has enough friction to resist minor movements allowing you to easily lay down the fabric without it having to move all the time.

Don’t cheap out on using landscape fabric

If you do not have enough fabric to layer the place in one go, don’t worry. You can always use multiple fabric pieces by overlapping them on one another but make sure to overlap considerably (around 8 to 10 inches). Don’t think about saving the fabric as it won’t do your garden any good if the layering is not done perfectly. Leave a few inches at the end as well which you can tuck in the ground or even the sides of the landscape bed.

Pin the fabric

Just like skimping out on fabric can cause more harm than good, the same is the case with fabric pins. You need to buy enough fabric pins to cover your required area with each pin around 8 to 10 inches apart. The pins will hold the cloth in place so that you can complete your DIY work. If you get fewer pins or use fewer pins than needed, then your fabric won’t hold into place in the long run.

Cut holes

You need to make holes in the fabric to make a place for your plants. You can’t simply plant something on top of the fabric as that is not what the fabric is for. Your plants will not grow without soil, hence the holes are there for you to insert your plants in it. Use a sharp knife to make the holes but do make sure that the holes are big enough for your plants to fit in.

Add mulch to the fabric

Once you’ve cut the holes and laid the fabric in place, add mulch to it. The mulch adds to the sun-resistant properties of the fabric as it also blocks the sunlight ensuring that the soil below retains as much moisture as possible. Mulch also helps add a natural look like the landscape fabric itself can be revolting to look at if used without the mulch.

Try to follow our best practices of using landscape fabric the right way and see if the landscape fabric pros and cons work out in your favor. If you feel that the pros are more than the cons for you, then invest in a good quality landscape fabric. If the cons are too much for you, then stay away from the fabric and stick to traditional gardening. In most cases, landscape fabric helps homeowners save money, resources, and time.

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