If you think that landscape fabric will keep out grass and weeds out of your flower bed, then take a good look at these photos. Notice the photo taken with 1 piece of grass up close…the grass root wove itself through the fabric! This grass has secured itself; it cannot be removed from the ground without cutting it out of the fabric for good. Smart little guy!
Fabric makes weeding sometimes impossible: Weeds…no landscape is without them! Fabric does slow down weed growth in the body of the bed, however mulch eventually breaks down and weed seeds will germinate. So fabric causes a false since of security, weeds will grow and grasses with encroach so maintenance is still required.
How the grass grows in the fabric: The local grasses like Bermuda and Zoysia spread by stollens and rhizomes. Stollens grow on top of the soil surface or fabric rhizomes grow underneath the soil surface. So with a stolen on top of the fabric the crown of the grass sends roots down through the fabric which is easy to take care of but the rhizomes grow up through the fabric send the crown up into the fabric.
Fabric is difficult to edge around: Edging around fabric causes the fabric edges to fray making it look tacky.
When NOT to use fabric: Keep fabric out of flower beds where the beds are exposed to high amounts of water and seeds. Planting and transplanting is difficult in beds with fabric a few inches below the soil.
When it is good to use landscape fabric?
Fabric works great under rock and in dry places. Rock does not break down like mulch does; giving weeds and seeds less of a chance to thrive. When weeds do take root they will be shallow, allowing them to be pulled more easily. But when making a rock bed near lawn be sure to put in metal edging to keep the lawn from moving in.
What to do instead of landscape fabric? Three tips answer this question 1. Put down a heavy layer of mulch. 2. Do regular weeding maintenance. 3. Edge your lawn regularly. Mulch should be spread at least 2- 3 inches deep; this keeps enough space between the weed seeds and soil to keep weed roots shallow. Keeping up on weeding a little at a time save you from back breaking, knee-tiring labor later on.
Edging, edging, edging! I can’t stress it enough. A well-kept shadow edge or metal edging around your bed of the grass is invasive. A shadow edge has a one inch depression between a lawn and the bed; this depression casts a small shadow. Shadow edges should be string trimmed twice a month during growing season and once a month during the dormant seasons. The trough allows you to cut off the rhizome and the stolen thus keeping your bed free of spreading trouble. For more info, please read my post on edging.