Pros and Cons of Using Landscape Fabric

Landscape fabric

Whether you call it landscaping fabric, weed block or weed barrier fabric, ask any landscaper or gardener how they feel about its use and they’ll probably have a strong opinion.

Landscape fabric is often promoted as the solution to the bane of every gardener’s existence – weeds. Not only does it supposedly block unwanted weed growth, but best of all, you don’t have to worry about weeding for what seems like years.

Unfortunately, and like with many advertised products, this isn’t exactly true.

Landscaping fabric definitely has its pros and cons when it comes to its use.

Pros of Landscape Fabric

Some of the benefits of using landscaping fabric include:

  • Keeps inorganic mulches like rocks from sinking into the soil.
  • Prevents weed seeds covered by fabric from sprouting.
  • Reduces the need for herbicidal weed control.
  • Works well on slopes where erosion is a problem.
  • Helps the soil retain moisture.

If landscape fabric is the right choice for your garden or other yard project, you’re ready to learn how to install landscape fabric in nine easy steps.

Cons of Landscape Fabric

Some of the cons of using landscaping fabric include:

  • Over time, decomposing particles of mulch and soil clog the perforations in the cloth, which keep adequate amounts of water and air from reaching the plant roots leading to the plant’s decline.
  • Earthworms, which aerate the soil, don’t develop, leading to compacted and unhealthy soil.
  • The fabric acts as a barrier to organic materials biodegrading in the soil, which lead to an unhealthier soil structure.
  • Weeds can still grow in the mulch used to cover the fabric.
  • Landscape fabric is time-consuming to install, especially around existing plantings.

If these downsides to landscape fabric have you rethinking your options, there are landscape fabric alternatives, such as newspaper and burlap.

Is Landscape Fabric the Right Choice for Your Project?

If used properly and in the best situations, landscaping fabric does have its benefits, but it does have its drawbacks.

Although it might work for a time in reducing weeds in an area, the unwanted growth eventually rears its ugly head despite the weed barrier.

Over time, you also end up with soil that isn’t as healthy, which can affect your plants and their health. 

Something else worth noting: Landscape fabric won’t last forever.

Landscaping fabric generally works as a weed barrier for a year or less before its usefulness starts declining.

In fact, and according to the University of Florida, its long-term use can negatively affect soil and plant health and is best used where ornamental plants aren’t growing like pathways or around mailboxes.

When to Call a Landscaping Professional

If you are unsure about landscape fabric or just a little antsy about the size and work involved in your garden or yard project, call a landscaping service near you. The pros will be able to answer your questions, help plan your project, and take all the work off your hands.

Joyce Starr

Joyce Starr

Joyce Starr has been writing on horticultural and landscaping topics for over 15 years. In addition, for the past 20 years she’s owned and operated a landscaping and design business. She shares her experience and passion for all things green through her writing.