Updated: Mar 5, 2020
And a Quick How-To
Landscape fabric is a weed "preventive barrier, BUT not all weed barriers are landscape fabric. Some are a thin plastic material which are inferior to a quality fabric, as the plastic easily tears and are most times un-reusable. Where a quality landscape fabric is long lasting, resistant to sun damage and is reusable!
Many people ask is landscape fabric necessary? My own personal opinion from trial and error is that no - it is not necessary. It is sometimes more of a hassle, if you happen to be like me and change your mind about a plants location the following year or decide to add more plants in. While the other half of the table says they love it.
So, here are some pros and cons I have gathered about the landscape fabric debate.
While it helps reduce weeds, it won't entirely get rid of them. The weeds that manage to get through are usually totally embedded in the fabric and are horrible to get out.
By putting landscape fabric down I have found that the soil compacts, making digging and planting more difficult. Loose, crumbly soil is usually sought for.
There is no room for error. Many gardeners change their minds in plant location or a plant requires being divided. With fabric it makes the task more difficult and time consuming.
Helps to control erosion and also protects your plants roots from exposure due to erosion.
Helps to control weeds.
Laying the fabric is easy. A quality fabric is more "breathable" and let's water, air and some nutrients into the soil.
How To Use
Dig or pull any existing weeds in the garden bed to aid with starting in a weed free area.
Work any compost or soil additives in now as the fabric will cover the soil.
Rake the soil smooth and pick up any other rocks/sticks/etc.
Unroll landscape fabric and lay lengthwise on the bed, starting at one end working across.
Cut the fabric with a sharp utility knife or scissors. If extra fabric is required to fill in - be sure to overlap at least 12" to prevent weeds from growing through the gaps.
Put landscape staples down to help secure the fabric and eliminate wrinkles/bunching.
Cut x's for new and slits for existing plants.
Dig a hole under the "x", put your plant in and cover roots with soil, reposition the flaps of the fabric against the plant.
Cover fabric with mulch, rocks etc. (Absolute min of 2" of mulch, putting more mulch will actually help prevent weeds!)