Landscape fabric is an excellent choice for sloped yards, gardens with weeds, and lawns with compact soil. If you hire a team of professional landscapers, it’s important to know everything they use and install in your yard. Not only does this fabric affect the soil, but it also changes how you maintain the plants.
Professional landscapers use fabric because it provides a barrier against weeds and compact soil. It also helps regulate water retention, drainage, and plant growth. Most landscapers use this fabric on sloped yards because they often have irrigation problems. Weed-ridden soil needs fabric, too.
In this article, we’ll explain whether or not professional landscapers use fabric, why they might advise against it, and if you need to replace the fabric. I’ll also talk about when it’s an essential requirement for your yard.
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Will Professional Landscapers Use Landscape Fabric?
Professional landscapers often use landscape fabric. It’s an inexpensive solution to weeds, drainage issues, and compact soil. However, some of them steer clear of the fabric because it can cause difficulties. For example, germinating grass typically has problems pushing the roots below the fabric.
Consider these five reasons some pro landscapers use fabric:
- Landscape fabric promotes drainage. Most fabrics let a little bit of water through the soil. This process prevents soil compaction because it doesn’t soak and dry the dirt too quickly. It also helps your plants get enough moisture before it falls too deep. All fabrics have unique water retention properties.
- You won’t have to deal with weeds too often. Landscape fabric is almost always designed to prevent weeds from growing. The fabric goes a few inches below the soil, which stops the weeds from sprouting roots. If they can’t grow roots, they can’t get above the surface. Some people use plastic instead of fabric for additional protection but it comes with additional issues.
- You can start a new lawn or garden with landscape fabric. If you don’t like your grass or flowers, you can cut them, cover them with fabric, add a few inches of soil, and start over. Landscape fabric allows homeowners to design a brand-new yard without having to remove everything and start from scratch.
- Some fabrics dissolve within a couple of years. If you don’t want to have fabric for too long, you’ll be glad to know that it typically goes away within two to three years. Ask for an all-natural fabric that decomposes. These fabrics keep the soil in good condition while the plants set deep roots.
- They prevent stones from sinking into the dirt. You can use landscape fabric to prevent stones and gravel from sinking into the soil. Wet dirt is spongey and can make the rocks look uneven. However, a thin layer of fabric will keep the rocks level throughout the rainy season.
While many professionals use landscape fabric, it’s not always required. If you’re on the fence about asking your landscaper to use fabric in your yard, you should review the following section.
Is Landscaping Fabric Needed?
Landscape fabric is needed if your yard has too many weeds. You can use this fabric to cover the garden and start a new plot of soil. Many landscapers use fabric to promote optimal drainage. Some landscape fabric comes with holes to let the water fall through and hydrate the roots below the soil.
Instead of spreading harsh chemicals throughout your yard, you can use a thin layer of fabric. Since it sits below the surface, it’s always out of sight and out of mind. It’s also much less harmful to native animals and bugs in the area (source).
If you’re looking for a landscape fabric for your yard, try the Amagabeli 4ft x 100ft Weed Barrier Fabric (link to Amazon). This fabric is lightweight and comes with up to 400 square feet of material. It’s perfect for mulch, plant growth, rocks, and more.
So, should you ask your landscapers to add fabric? Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you want to lay rocks, tile, or bark? Landscape fabric provides an excellent barrier that stops the soil from sinking. You can lay this fabric on the soil and cover it with numerous landscaping materials to give your yard a natural appearance without making everything look uneven.
- Are there a lot of invasive weeds in your yard? Landscape fabric is also known as weed cloth. This is because it prevents weeds more than anything else. You can use it to keep weeds out of your lawn, bark, gravel, and garden. It’s also an excellent way to keep weeds from growing around a tree.
- Are you planting new grass seeds? Some grasses can’t germinate through landscape fabric. If you’re laying new grass, we recommend using straw or burlap sheets. These materials are porous enough to prevent weed growth while letting the grass grow through the soil. You can rake or mow the straw after a couple of months of growth.
Should You Have Them Replace the Landscape Fabric?
You should have your landscapers replace the fabric if it’s brittle, torn, or deteriorated. Landscape fabric can’t prevent weeds when it gets too porous. The experts will remove the old fabric and replace it with a new layer. Make sure you know if you need porous or dense fabric for your yard.
Keep in mind that some expert landscapers won’t add another layer of fabric. Some homeowners use landscape fabric for the initial growth process, but it’s unnecessary after a few years.
Thankfully, most of the fabric deteriorates, and all you have to do is remove the other scraps to restore the soil.
Landscape fabric is typically used for new projects rather than for maintaining a yard. While it can prevent weeds from growing, it’s not always the most reliable long-term solution.
The fabric breaks down over a few years, which means it quickly loses its effectiveness. The best way to prevent weeds is to fill dry patches of soil throughout the yard.
Most weeds can’t grow without adequate space around the soil. If the dirt is covered in grass, trees, flowers, and other plants, the weeds won’t be able to spread.
The seeds can’t germinate because there’s not enough moisture, nutrients, and sunlight to spare. Mow your lawn and use natural herbicides to maintain a healthy, weed-free lawn if your landscaper doesn’t use fabric.
Is Fabric or Plastic Better for Professional Landscaping?
Fabric is better for professional landscaping because it lasts longer and allows your plants to grow through the soil. It also provides much better drainage compared to plastic sheets. However, some experts prefer plastic for shallow-rooted plants because it can prevent weeds and maintain a lot of moisture.
Landscape plastic is often the cheaper alternative. It doesn’t allow enough moisture through the soil, so it’s not the best choice for most plants. You can use it with some plants that don’t need to send their roots deeper than a couple of inches.
However, it’s an excellent solution for rock beds because it doesn’t allow moisture through the surface.
The RolyPoly Plastic Sheeting Roll (link to Amazon) is a top-notch example of high-end landscape plastic. It’s 6 mil thick, which is more than enough to prevent all plants from growing through the dirt.
Each roll has 10’ x 100’ of material. It’s UV-resistant to prevent sunlight damage, which means it’ll last much longer than the competition.
In most cases, we’d suggest asking a professional landscaper about which fabric or plastic you should use. All climates and soils are unique, which means there’s no one-size-fits-all material for every yard.
Almost all professional landscapers offer fabrics and other materials to prevent weeds from growing. However, some of them only use the fabric underneath rocks and bark.
See our detailed article Plastic vs. Fabric: Which Is Better for Landscaping?
Do Landscapers Put Fabric Over the Grass?
Landscapers put fabric over the grass to lay gravel and other rocks. These professionals usually cut the grass very short, layer it with fabric, and cover it with a dense layer of dirt, gravel, sand, or pebbles.
People have been putting landscape fabric over the grass for a long time. It’s one of the best ways to suppress plant growth. However, there are a few things you should know before adding any material over grass or weeds to start a new layer of soil, bark, etc.
- Dig a trench around the grass before laying the fabric. This trench helps the lawn staples secure the fabric to the soil. It also prevents water and fertilizer from aiding the grass growth. You should also mow the grass as short as possible beforehand.
- Nut grass is strong enough to push through some landscape fabrics if it’s not short enough. Cut the nut grass and till the soil to prevent it from growing through the fabric. Remember to put something on top of the fabric to crush the grass, such as mulch, tile, or pebbles. See Can Perennial Weeds Grow through Landscape Fabric?
- Make sure the soil is dry before covering it with landscape fabric. Trapped moisture can cause root rot and soil mildew, which smells gross. It can also sink the soil, causing anything on top of the fabric to dip into the ground. You can use a leaf blower to dry the soil, but we suggest waiting for a dry, sunny day.
- You can place artificial turf on top of landscape fabric. This turf is dense and heavy enough to prevent the grass from growing. It’ll also smother weeds and other plants below the fabric. Always secure the fabric with lawn staples before adding artificial turf and other landscaping materials.
Why Don’t Some Landscapers Use Fabric?
Some landscapers don’t use fabric because they don’t dig deep enough or they don’t want to disrupt the soil. Natural decomposition creates some of the best soil in the world. Digging into the dirt and placing a fabric layer disrupts the process, preventing your plants from getting enough nutrients.
Here’s a list of additional reasons some landscapers don’t use fabric:
- Too much landscape fabric can prevent proper drainage. Excessive amounts of fabric will stop water from getting to the plants’ roots. The fabric should be dense enough to prevent weeds from growing through the surface but porous enough to let water through the soil. See Can You Double Layer Landscape Fabric?
- Not all soil needs landscape fabric. If your soil is aerated, healthy, and full of plants, you won’t have to worry about weeds and other invasive plants. You also might not need fabric or plastic if you don’t want gravel and other rocks in the yard. You can ask your landscapers if they think your soil could benefit from fabric.
- Some roots can’t grow through the fabric, which could severely limit the plants’ potential. If you have new plants, they might not sprout far enough to reach the soil. You can wait to add the fabric until after the plants germinate, but you’ll have to transplant each of the plants for the best results.
- Many yards can be weeded and treated to keep invasive plants from growing. If your yard doesn’t have an invasive plant problem and you don’t want to lay rocks, there’s no need to get landscape fabric. Some yards have naturally healthy soil with nutrient-rich plants. It’s almost always better to stick to natural solutions if possible.
- Mulch and compost provide similar benefits in terms of drainage and dense plant growth. If you don’t want to put plastic or fabric in the soil, you can use mulch and compost as a nutrient-dense alternative. Most compost and mulch piles are compact enough to help water slowly move through the roots.
Professional landscapers use fabric when it’s necessary. Always talk to your landscapers before starting the job. It’s crucial that you know if there’s fabric or plastic because it influences the way you water, fertilize, and grow plants.
If the company suggests against the fabric, it’s typically best to stick with your soil’s natural composition.
- Can You Lay Landscape Fabric Over Rocks?
- Can You Double Layer Landscape Fabric?
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