6 reasons why landscape fabric is a bad idea

Written by Gene Caballero on June 09, 2015

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Should I Install Landscape Fabric?

Landscape fabric is used by many gardeners to cut down on gardening maintenance tasks. Should you install the fabric if you haven't already? As a professional gardener, I've seen many gardens during my 14 year career. Personally, I discourage my clients from using landscape fabric. Having also talked to lawn mowing companies in Alpharetta, Georgia, and landscaping companies in O'Fallon, Missouri, here are the reasons why:

1. It compacts the soil. In order to truly be healthy, soil needs to be crumbly and loose. This is the type of soil where plants can spread their roots and grow without too much work. I've noticed that soil underneath the landscape fabric does not stay crumbly and loose. Rather, the soil becomes hard and compact. This makes digging and planting very difficult.

2. Weeding is a nightmare. While the landscape fabric will reduce the number of weeds in your garden, it won't entirely get rid of them. The weeds that do manage to get through the fabric are usually horrible enmeshed with the fabric itself. This means it's very hard to remove the weeds. Usually, removing the weed entirely means ripping the landscape fabric.

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3. The fabric contains petroleum and other chemicals. Most gardening experts advise gardeners to avoid using petroleum products or products with chemicals around plants. This is especially true for those plants that are edible.

4. Landscape fabric is expensive. In order to properly install the fabric, you need pins to hold the fabric down. This further increases the cost. In addition, it may be necessary to patch the fabric or install additional pins throughout the year. Of course, installing the fabric and putting the pins into the ground also takes a considerable amount of time.

5. There's not a lot of room for error. Gardeners are known for changing their minds. One season you may want a certain plant in a certain place. This may change from year to year. As plants grow, they will need to be divided in order to keep the original plant healthy. Both of these tasks become incredibly difficult when landscaping fabric is present. Changing location and dividing plants become a time consuming chore.

6. Re-seeding is almost impossible. One of the joys of gardening is to see which plants have re-seeded themselves in your yard year after year. When you use landscape fabric, it's very difficult for plants to re-seed themselves. In addition, bulbs can get pushed around and may not return.

As a gardener, I suggest that homeowners use another method to reduce garden maintenance times. Installing a thick layer of wood chips or mulch in the garden is one way to combat weeds. Not only is this solution relatively inexpensive, but it's attractive and will not affect the soil quality in a negative way.  If you are needing a professional lawn service in Atlanta to help with this, give GreenPal a spin.

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Written by Gene Caballero on March 24, 2017