Should You Use Weed Control Fabric In Your Gardens -

Should You Use Weed Control Fabric In Your Gardens

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One of the pressing issues we gardeners face is weeds in the garden.

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There are many schools of thought on how to control them, one if which involves using weed control fabric. The question is... should you use these rolls of material in your gardens?

Our opinion is for most uses NO - do not use weed control fabric. There is one circumstance however, where we feel it's necessary. We know this goes against what you may have heard elsewhere, so let us explain.

What we are talking about here is within your flower and landscape gardens, not your vegetable gardens. That's an another topic entirely and beyond the scope of this article.

First, if you don't know what weed control fabric is, let us explain.  It's that porous fabric you see in garden centers - usually black - that comes in rolls. You simply roll it out and cover your garden surfaces with this material, then cut slits or holes in the fabric to plant your shrubs or flowers.

Weed control fabric needs to be porous so water can reach the roots of the plants within the garden.


In theory, this method of weed control should cut down on weeds and in practice, it does, for a short time. However, we have a better method that does just as good a job. Read about that in this article HERE.

The 5 Pitfalls Of Using Weed Control Fabric

Here are some downfalls you should know about using this weed control method:

  1. It Does Not Break Down Into Compost Quickly:

    While this could be considered an advantage, it's definitely not, because, as you'll see in #2 below, it only works for a short time anyway. Plus, anything you put in your landscape should break down easily and become part of your garden's compost and supply nutrients to the plants. Landscape fabric will definitely not do this.

  2. Breaks Down:

    Over time though, the fabric will break down (as it should) and develop holes here and there and therefore, be ineffective at preventing weeds. When it does this, you cannot just dig up everything in your garden to start over with more fabric! It just won't work.

    As an example, we've been contracted more than once to redo client's gardens in the past and found landscape fabric placed there years earlier, torn and worn, just underneath the surface of the garden. Obviously, it's doing nothing for weeds at this point.

  3. Holes In The Fabric:

    The slits or holes you cut to plant your flowers will allow weeds to slip underneath and grow near the roots of your plants. These weeds are more of a pain to remove than the ones elsewhere in your garden because you have to use your hands to dig them up within the plant's roots without distrubing the plant. Of course this can be done but it's harder than it needs to be.

  4. Even More Holes:

    As you're working in your garden, planting more plants such as annuals every year or digging up dead plants, etc, you will disturb the fabric, possibly even cutting holes in it with your trowel. Of course this renders it useless.

  5. It Works For A Short Time:

    Yes, it might work to control weeds the first year, but after that, all bets are off. This is probably the most important reason to NOT use weed control fabric.

    Here's something you probably have not thought of...

    Over time, debris falling from trees, blowing in the wind, washed in by the rain, and more will invade your gardens. Some of this debris will include weed seeds or roots. What happens to these weeds? It falls ON TOP of your weed control fabric, within the garden. So these weeds will begin to grow anyway.

    This is one of the many reasons why gardens that are using this fabric still have weeds.

Using Plastic To Control Weeds:

HUGE  no no in our book, we've seen home owners use plastic such as black plastic garbage bags as they would weed control fabric, spreading it within their garden area. I'm not sure why. Maybe they had some laying around the house. Maybe cost was a factor. Whatever the reason, this is not a good option.

First, black plastic is NOT porous. It will not allow water to pentrate the roots of the plants.

Second, black plastic will NEVER break down in the garden and therefore, is bad for the envirnment.

The One Instance When We Do Use Weed Control Fabric

There is one situation when we use this method of weed control and that is, in landscaped areas that are covered with rocks or stone.

Beautiful image, don't you think?

First, and most important, using this fabric is necessary under rocks to give the garden a clean look. Otherwise, spreading rocks directly over the dirt will mean dirt coming through the crevasses and washing out between the rocks and creating an unsightly mess. Plus, dirt washing out will change the elevation of your beds. It just won't look good.

Second, since rock gardens are distrurbed less with new plantings or digging, it's less likely additional holes or slits will happen.

You must be aware though that weeds will STILL GROW in these rock gardens for the reasons we mentioned above. They will however, usually be less pervasive, especially for the first few years.

The Final Answer To The Question About Weed Control Fabric

We've given you reasons why using weed control fabric is not a good idea.

However, using it does control weeds to a point, and for a short period of time. However, you will not eliminate weeds by using it and over time, you'll find more and more weeds will invade your gardens anyway.

So, is it worth it? The choice is up to you.

See our posting HERE where we explain our method for controlling weeds without using weed control fabric. Our method works and works well, so it could be a better option for you.

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