Should You Use Landscape Cloth in a New Garden?

Despite careful planning and intelligent choice of plants, any garden will eventually grow weeds and need some maintenance help. In order to stave off this extra task from your local lawn service, you might consider turning to the addition of landscape cloth covering all the soil in the new garden beds. This product is designed to make the entire gardening experience easier and less maintenance-focused, but the reality may be quite different from the claims.

What is Landscape Cloth?

Landscape cloth or landscape fabric comes in a variety of materials. You can purchase natural ones like linen or the more usual options like polyester or recycled plastic woven into a flexible fabric. If you have ever visited a garden center or hardware store that specializes in landscaping, you have undoubtedly seen the long rolls of black fabric near the mulch.

In order to use landscape cloth in your gardens, you need to cut it into the appropriate shape or each bed, laying it down before you plant anything, cut holes where the plants will go, and use pins or stakes to attach it to the ground firmly. Many people then cover it with mulch or pebbles.

The Benefits of Using a Landscape Cloth Layer

This product is marketed as an excellent way to stop weed growth. When you lay this across all the open soil in your gardens, it makes it more difficult for weed seeds underneath to germinate. Also, it blocks falling seeds from landing in soil where they can take root. This may reduce your reliance on chemical weed killers and help you avoid a lot of backbreaking work throughout the year.

Another positive characteristic of landscape cloth involves its ability to keep more water in the soil around the plant roots. The fabric itself has tiny holes throughout, which allow the rain or water from the hose to pass through relatively easily. However, once the water is through, it will not evaporate as quickly as if it landed on bare ground or ordinary mulch.

Top Reasons to Avoid Landscape Cloth

Despite these benefits, many garden specialists suggest not using landscape fabric at all. First of all, when the mulch on top invariably shifts or runs away after the rain, you are left with ugly patches of black plastic or cloth on view. Also, it can stick out of the edges of a garden if not properly secured.

The aforementioned benefits of water saving and weed control may also work against this product option. Many homeowners find that weeds still grow under the cloth but that they can no longer access them to pull them out. Also, seeds can germinate in the holes next to the plants or even in the mulch on top. This does nothing to minimize the labor associated with landscaping.

Although it does conserve water that gets through the tiny holes, this process remains less efficient than water accessing soil directly. Over time, the ground beneath the landscaping cloth will compact together. Most gardeners understand the need to loosen up the soil around plants to encourage soaking water, making space for larger root systems, and helping out beneficial garden helpers like earthworms and nematodes.

The professionals at 409 Lawns can help you determine whether you should consider this option.  We offer a full range of lawn and landscape services.  Ask us how!