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I have noticed that the majority of my clients seem to always want landscape fabric in their gardens to prevent weed growth. The product gives users a sense of instant gratification and responsibility, with the idea that they are protecting their garden against weeds for the future. While the intention is to decrease garden maintenance, landscape fabric will become ineffective in a very short period of time and create issues for your garden spaces in the future. A thin layer of plastic or cloth, landscape fabric is usually installed during the initial creation of the garden. Mulch, rock, or some other sort of ground cover, is then, spread on top of the landscape fabric. After installation, it is only a matter of months before the forces of nature drive sediment on and into the ground cover, creating a layer of soil and organic materials above the fabric. This layer of sediment creates an ideal environment for invasive weeds to spread over the landscape fabric. The weeds tend to spread even more quickly over gardens with the fabric because most of the plants that you have planted within the small holes in the fabric cannot compete with these pesky weeds that do not need much of a growing medium to flourish. After a year or two, we find most landscape fabric weak with holes and tears from the weed growth, rendering it completely useless and a nuisance for future projects.
When this happens, many react by adding more ground cover on top of the weed-infested ground cover, and some even do this after adding another layer of fabric. While planting for others, I have seen up to six layers of fabric in seven inches of soil. This situation makes it difficult for plants to grow correctly.
Is there a better method?
Some people will use newspaper instead, so that once the weeds get on top of it, the paper will have biodegraded. This is more difficult to install, but it beats dealing with the cloth two years down the line.
The best way to protect your garden from weeds is to put in the time or money to pull them by hand.