Savannah. Charleston. New Orleans. San Antonio. These colonial-era cities inspire the courtyard garden ideal: green and lush, with beautiful plants, pools and fountains, paved with stone, tiles or bricks, & protected by sheltering walls with gates that reveal a table and chairs for cocktails or an al fresco meal...

Saturday, July 31, 2010

So-called "Weed Blocking" Fabric

I do not use "landscape fabric" also known as "weed blocking fabric" below mulch or gravel to "block" weeds. One is supposed to apply it below the mulch, overlapping well, and securing the fabric with multiple long wire landscape staples. And yes, it blocks plants which germinate below the fabric from growing through it and springing up where you do not want them. So far, so good.

However, it does NOT prevent plants which germinate above the fabric from growing at all. Grow they will, and eventually their small feeder roots will penetrate into and through the fabric. Then, when you come along and pull that weed, its roots hang on tenaciously to the fabric and it pulls and tents up off the ground sending your gravel or mulch flying, pulling up the staples, and creating a huge mess.

Mulch and gravel mulch do an admirable job of discouraging weeds all by themselves. The rare weed can quite easily be pulled the old fashioned way, or chopped off effectively with a "Hula Hoe,"

also known as a stirrup hoe, or other such tool with a horizontal blade. The mulch can simply be tamped back down. And no cursing will be necessary, (even under your breath so the neighbors won't hear.)


  1. Dear Fougeres, I totally agree. This horrid material is the stuff of nightmares and does not, in my view, reduce work nor does it stay where it is put. Far better as you say to regularly rake gravel for an altogether more satisfactory and attractive look.

  2. I also totally agree. When I planted my very first bed of plants (herbs) my husband did the preparation and he put down landscape cloth. Never again.

  3. I'm glad you posted this. I'm in the middle of a patio project where it says to put down this layer under the compacted road base to keep weed from growing up through the patio. I had to raise an eyebrow at this, because, what weed seed will survive being buried under 5 inches of compacted gravel and sand and then have the energy to come up between the stones? I think this installation tip was recommended by the landscape fabric manufacturers association.

  4. Great points and it looks to be petroleum based (?)... one more we could eliminate. There are no quick fixes to gardening... thanks for sharing your views on this. Glad to have found your blog over at blotanical. ;>)

  5. I hate weedblocking fabric. The previous owners here had it all over the place. I've spent more time ripping this out than planting! My chickens also have a tendency to dig it up. For us it's just drip irrigation (to reduce the weeds in the first place), mulch, and good old fashioned elbow grease to pull the few that pop up.

  6. Great timing. I have some gravel arriving on Monday for a path. They tried to talk be into purchasing the faric as well, glad I said no.


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