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What is Landscape Fabric?

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  • Written By: J. Beam
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 14 July 2014
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When it comes to flower and landscaping beds, nothing is more aggravating and than having weeds pop up that detract from the overall appearance and are time consuming to pull. This is where landscape fabric can come in handy. Landscape fabric is a specially designed fabric, most often made of woven polypropylene, that can be placed in beds and borders to help reduce weeds by acting as a barrier of sorts. The fabric is permeable, allowing air and water into the soil, but blocks the sunlight to stop germination of most weed plants.

Whether installing the fabric yourself or having it installed during the course of professional landscaping, fabric weed barriers have been proven to be one of the most effective ways to reduce weed growth. Even in existing gardens and beds where weeds have previously been a problem, landscape fabric can help reduce weed growth and improve the overall appearance of a landscaped area.

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Available at many nurseries and garden centers, landscape fabric is typically sold in rolls of specific lengths and must be cut to fit in a designated area. While it is possible to install landscape fabric after a bed or area has been planted, it is somewhat easier to install before hand. If you are installing a fabric weed barrier in a previously planted area, first remove all visible weeds and grass and then rake the area thoroughly. Lay out the fabric and make sure to cut or notch out areas around where trees, shrubs, and perennial plants are growing and then tuck the fabric back around the bases. Landscape fabric usually comes with pins or anchors for securing the fabric to the ground.

Installing landscape fabric in a previously unplanted area is mostly much the same, except that you can install and anchor the fabric according to the manufacturer’s directions first, and then cut out holes for planting afterward. With landscape fabric and plants in place, you can finish off the area by installing mulch or stones over the top. If you use a high-quality fabric that has been treated with an UV protector, it should last several years without decomposing.

Though fabric can cost more than plastic weed barriers, keep in mind that plastic does not allow air, water and nutrients to reach the soil and this results in poorer plant growth and the potential for plant diseases. Plastic weed barriers also become brittle and tear quickly, reducing their effectiveness at controlling weed growth. While landscape fabric will not eliminate all weeds, especially the stubborn variety of weeds and grasses, it will help eliminate many other types of weeds and reduce the amount of maintenance needed. For further information on types of fabric and installation, consult your local nursery or professional landscaping company.

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