Landscape fabric can help manage weeds while allowing plants room to thrive. But proper soil preparation, installation techniques and regular maintenance are key for success.
Remove Existing Weeds First
Preparing the soil before installing fabric is critical. Thoroughly remove as many weed roots and seeds as possible:
- Pull existing weeds by hand to remove roots
- Use tools like hoes and weeders to dig up weeds
- Apply a targeted herbicide for tough-to-remove weeds
The fewer weeds present, the longer your fabric will stay effective at blocking new weeds.
Choose The Right Fabric Type
Select a permeable landscape fabric that allows:
- Water and air through for plant health
- Nutrients to pass for optimum growing conditions
- Replacement every 3 to 5 years as fabrics degrade over time.
Permeable polypropylene options work best.
Install Fabric Properly
When laying down your fabric:
- Lay fabric flat and secure edges with stakes
- Overlap seams by 6 to 12 inches to minimize weed gaps
- Cover with 2 to 4 inches of mulch to weigh down edges
This helps “trap” any remaining weeds beneath the fabric.
Cut Holes For Plants
Use a utility knife to cut slits and holes in the fabric for desired plants:
- Fold fabric edges under and secure to minimize fraying
- Trim as plants grow to accommodate larger size
- Water plants through holes or beside fabric to avoid damaging it
- Inspect fabric regularly for tears that allow weeds access
- Remove weeds that do emerge by hand or with a wand tool
- Replace fabric every few years for optimum weed control
While landscape fabric can help manage weeds, it requires diligence to realize its full benefits. Thoroughly clearing existing weeds, choosing the right permeable fabric, proper installation techniques and regular maintenance are all critical factors for success. With the right preparation and care, landscape fabric can significantly reduce weeding work over time. But traditional methods may still offer a less labor-intensive option for some gardeners.
Can cardboard kill weeds before laying fabric?
Yes! Covering weeds with corrugated cardboard and weighing it down with mulch can smother weeds and their roots. This makes cardboard an effective natural precursor to installing landscape fabric. The cardboard decomposes over time, so you’ll still need to replace the fabric every few years.
Will black plastic suffocate weeds before using fabric?
Black plastic can also suffocate weeds as a precursor to landscape fabric. It’s important to secure the edges of the plastic well and weigh it down for best results. However, plastic is less permeable than fabric and inhibits water, air and nutrient exchange for plant growth. Fabric often provides a more balanced solution.
What about covering weeds with newspaper then fabric?
Layering newspapers with overlapping edges can also smother weeds before using fabric. However, newspaper doesn’t last as long as cardboard and breaks down within one growing season. It’s best used in combination with landscape fabric for immediate weed control while the fabric installation follows.
Can I spray weed killer before installing landscape fabric?
Yes, applying a targeted herbicide before laying fabric can help kill weed roots and seeds. This reduces the workload for the fabric over time. Make sure to follow the herbicide instructions regarding the timeframe before planting or installing fabric.
Will boiling water kill weeds under new landscape fabric?
Boiling water can temporarily damage weeds and their roots, but it won’t provide lasting control under landscape fabric. Any weeds that don’t die immediately will often re-sprout from roots or rhizomes that survive. Combining boiling water with other preparation methods will offer more reliable results.