Weed growth..the words most homeowners hate to hear because it is a tedious task in the flower bed and not the way most people want to spend a Saturday morning. Some homeowners choose to use landscape fabric to try to prevent the growth of weeds and maintain a healthy garden. Does landscape fabric let water through? It lets through a little bit of water, but most water flows over the top of the fabric and leaves the ground dry. There are a few alternatives available.
Let’s take a look at landscape fabric and what might be a better choice for your garden.
What Is Landscape Fabric
Landscape fabric is also known as garden fabric, weed fabric, or landscape cloth. It was originally developed for commercial properties such as growing vegetables and holding soil. This fabric is important to use when building a retaining wall. Also, many believe that landscape fabric is permeable, stops all weeds from growing, and lasts forever.
The Truth About Landscape Fabric
Landscape fabric is made from fibers that are woven and have holes that allow some water to flow through. There are various brands and durabilities on the market. Additionally, landscape fabric comes in rolls that are about 3 feet wide and from 50 feet to 200 feet long or longer. You can cover landscape fabric with any type of mulch such as gravel, rubber nuggets, and wood chips to name a few. This material works well under gravel as the weight holds it in place. Using other types of mulch, you can use mulch pins to hold the fabric in place.
Here are some questions homeowners often want to know.
Is it Permeable? – This fabric comes in two types: Thin strips of plastic woven fabric or polyester fibers that are spun together. Both types of landscape fabric are a little porous but restrict water and air movement, which then keeps the soil dry underneath.
Does it Provide Weed Prevention? – While landscape fabric can provide a weed barrier and weed control for a few years, it will also have weed seeds that blow on top of the landscape bed. Additionally, there will be some weeds that are able to grow through the fabric so it is not something that will permanently prevent weeds. Also, organic matter or mulch that might have been added by the landscaper or homeowner will also start to decompose but can’t help the soil if there is a fabric cover in the way.
Is it Permanent? – The cheaper fabrics will be pulled up by the landscaper or will degrade in the soil. Some flowers, such as annuals, will make the fabric look like swiss cheese as you will need to cut holes so you can plant the flowers each year.
Alternatives to Landscape Fabric
The good news is that there are some landscape fabric alternatives that will work better than buying the fabric. Some of them are better for the environment but read on to find out what is best.
- Newspaper – this material can be found anywhere from some laying around your home, to buying at the store and even asking a store for their day old newspapers. Additionally, garden supply stores may offer large rolls of newspaper print. Note that it is not permanent and will decompose, but will allow water through. Using a few sheets is good because if too thick, it can cause a barrier to the water. Also, stay away from the pages that are ads in the paper as they are glossy and don’t work like the regular newsprint.
- Cardboard – the best type of cardboard doesn’t have any tape, labels, staples, and is not coated. If it has any of this, the water won’t soak through and it will cause a barrier. When using cardboard, cut a hole that is wide enough around the plants and water can go through to the roots.
- Plastic – not a good idea and is bad for the environment.
- Wood Mulch- using up to 6 inches of organic mulch can help keep out the first round of weeds. However, some of the mulch does join together and creates a shell. Taking the time to spread out the mulch when it does this is important at least once a year. if you can find large wood chips or coarse wood chips, that will help with the flow of water into the soil. Many people like arborist wood chips as they do well in the garden.
Other Recommended Maintenance
Now that you know about landscape fabric, take a look at some areas for maintenance. One of those is the grading of the land. If you have negative grading, you will need to fix this quickly. This means the water flows toward the home and foundation. Fortunately, adding in soil and a flower bed can help.
Then, in addition to grading the land, you can also add landscaping to keep water away from the home. This involves adding bushes, plants, gutters, downspouts, and more. You can also make the yard look really nice with your additions as well as help the drainage of the property.
Lastly, ornamental grass is nice to have in a yard. It gives the yard a different look, creates borders, and is resistant to pests and diseases. However, sometimes ornamental grass turns brown. This is due to overwatering or underwatering the plants. Also, this may be that it is winter and dormant.
When to Call a Professional
Landscape fabric can help control weeds but is not 100% and can cause issues over time. If you need help putting down the fabric or mulch or other types of matter, you can call a professional for assistance. It is important it is laid down correctly and that you have enough material. Also, consulting a professional landscaping company is a good idea to make sure you are also planting the right plants for the area in which you live.
Now that you know about landscape fabric and weed growth, you have some things to consider regarding your garden. Take the time to think about what works best for you in the garden. Your home inspection team can check to see if you have negative grading in your yard or any other drainage issues and that might help you with your decision. Call on All Coast Home Inspections for a home inspection in Houston, TX. They can refer you to the most reputable landscapers in the area.