The Pros and Cons of Using Landscape Fabric for Weed Control

Here’s all that you need to know about weed control using landscape fabric

Landscape fabric which is also popularly known as weed barrier fabric, is a must have for gardeners who are looking for weed control in their gardens. However, there are a couple of questions pertaining to its effectiveness that you may have in your mind. For instance, is the landscape fabric really helpful for weed control? Is it worth taking all the hassles to install one? To answer all these questions, it all depends on various factors including the amount of time that you usually spend in your garden. Like a lot of your other gardening decisions, the decision of whether to opt for landscape fabric depends on your respective situations. While sometimes it may prove to be handy, but at the same time, sometimes it may lead to additional work. Let’s explore some of the pros and cons of using landscape fabric for weed control and then you can take your call whether to install one for your garden or not.

Weed Control
Anti-weed fabric is a good option but caution is advised as it may bring additional work.

Here’s Some Pros of Using Landscape Fabric 

Weed Control

Weeds are the culprits which steal away nutrients from your plants thereby making them stunted and causing them to produce less fruits and flowers. When you use landscape fabric, it enables the smaller and hardy plants to grow over time without the menace of weeds. Once your plants are well rooted in the ground, the shade that your large plant casts makes it challenging for weeds to find the much needed sun for them to grow and thereby is quite effective for weed control.

Weed Fabric
The advantage of using the anti-weed fabric in that it helps the smaller plants grow without the weeds putting them at risk.

Effective Barrier to Germination of Seeds Already in the Soil

Usually when you have shrub beds, little change is anticipated. So you can use the landscape fabric to act as an effective barrier for the germination and growth of the seeds which are already present in the soil. Whenever you plant a garden, it is advisable to have discrete clumps of perennials so that it can keep the weeds that tend to spread, in check for some time, till the fabric starts to wear off eventually.

Roll of weed fabric
The anti-weed fabric is a good option because it works effectively as a barrier against weeds.

Erosion Control

Since landscape fabric is porous in nature, it is extremely helpful to prevent soil erosion. If you reside near hills or slopes, it is natural for your garden to be exposed to erosion especially during large rainstorms. So as a solution to this, you can lay down a landscape fabric underneath a layer of mulch. The roots of plants that extend into the soil under the fabric are protected from the flowing water of heavy rains and you can prevent the soil from getting washed away.

Sample of anti-weed fabric
Another advantage of the anti-weed fabric is that it protects the water that flows from the heavy rains to the roots that extend below the ground.

Reusable

Sometimes vegetable growers reuse the same sheets of landscape fabric year after year by lifting them to prepare the soil and later replacing them and utilizing the original holes as a guide for planting. If you add a light layer of mulch on top of the landscape fabric, it retains moisture and also protects the fabric from damage under the direct rays of the sun.

Some Cons of Using Landscape Fabric 

Soil Degradation

One of the main cons of using landscape fabric is the effect it has on the nutrients of the soil. The mulch that lies on top of the landscape fabric cannot biodegrade into the soil. The composting that occurs naturally within the soil is prevented effectively with the fabric barrier. Organic material and dead leaves therefore cannot reach the soil and thus the nutrient level of the soil drops to a great extent within your garden. Tough plants may still grow well in soils with fewer nutrients, but other sensitive plants such as roses may suffer badly. Landscape fabrics that are heavy and those that have layers of wood mulch added over a period of time can lower the amount of oxygen reaching the roots considerably, thereby creating conditions of constant excessive moisture, leading the roots of the plants to rot.

Anti-weed fabric installed in a field
If the weed fabric is too heavy it will begin to reduce the oxygen that the plants receive, which will create humidity and consequently the plants will begin to die.

Can Make Weeding More Difficult

Another annoying aspect of landscape fabric is that it can also make the task of weeding more difficult for you. The grass that grows under the landscape fabric establishes a network of roots which are impossible to eradicate without using herbicide or lifting up the weed barrier. The weed can then have shoots rise right through the fabric or even grow in the holes that are made for planting your ornamentals. Weeds that have strong taproots such as thistles or dandelions can re-grow from parts of roots that are left in the soil before the fabric was laid. They penetrate the fabric from below or germinate in mulch and grow roots right through the landscape fabric.

Breaks Down Eventually

Based on the type of fabric and the environment, the landscape fabric eventually breaks down even though it may be after three to ten years. Then you may face a situation where you are pulling out weeds that have roots and stems so entwined in the fabric that they can’t be composted. This happens especially in case of heavier, longer lasting fabrics that have a lower rate of water infiltration.

Weed cloth covering plants.
Another disadvantage of the garden fabric is that it makes it difficult to pull the weeds or roots that grow underneath.

Not Versatile

Some gardeners have the habit of moving their plants around or adding new ones as per their mood. However, one of the cons of using landscape fabric is that it is not meant to be versatile. You need to make holes in the fabric to enable the main plants to penetrate well into the soil. A gardener with a shifting habit will need to make multiple holes and also create patches during the gardening process. Thus the landscape fabric cannot work quite well.

If you are not someone who enjoys doing yard work and gardening, then landscape fabric is a good option for you, as it will help you to deal with weed control in your gardening. If you have decided to opt for a weed barrier fabric, you can increase its effectiveness by using an adequate layer of gravel on top. You can also replace the weed barrier fabric as it wears out with time in order to deal with weed control effectively.

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