For anyone who has laid down landscape fabric only to see weeds still peeking through, it can feel frustrating and defeating. But never fear, there are solutions for stopping those persistent weeds from ruining your carefully planned garden beds or pathways.
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Use a heavy-duty, UV-stabilized landscape fabric with smaller holes, seal seams properly, use pins or gravel to hold the fabric down tight to the soil, and use pre-emergent herbicides before laying the fabric to stop seeds from germinating.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explain why weeds grow through landscape fabric and provide actionable solutions for preventing and stopping weed growth, from proper installation techniques and fabric choices to maintenance tips and chemical controls.
Why Do Weeds Grow Through Landscape Fabric?
Weeds can be a persistent and frustrating problem for any gardener or landscaper. While landscape fabric is designed to prevent weed growth, there are several reasons why weeds can still find a way to grow through it.
It’s Too Lightweight or Has Large Holes
One reason weeds may be able to grow through landscape fabric is if the fabric itself is too lightweight or has large holes. Weeds are opportunistic and can find their way through any opening, no matter how small.
If the fabric is not made of a durable material or has holes that are too big, it will not effectively prevent weed growth.
Seams and Edges Are Not Properly Sealed
Another reason weeds can grow through landscape fabric is if the seams and edges are not properly sealed. If there are gaps or areas where the fabric is not secured tightly against the ground, weeds can easily push through these openings.
It is important to make sure that all seams and edges are properly sealed to prevent weed growth.
It’s Not Held Tightly Against the Soil
Landscape fabric needs to be held tightly against the soil in order to effectively prevent weed growth. If the fabric is loose or not properly secured, weeds can find their way through the gaps and grow unhindered.
It is important to secure the fabric tightly against the soil to ensure maximum weed prevention.
Weed Seeds Were Already Present
Even with the best landscape fabric, it is still possible for weeds to grow through if there were weed seeds already present in the soil before the fabric was installed. Weed seeds can lay dormant in the soil for years, and once they come into contact with sunlight and water, they can germinate and grow.
It is important to thoroughly weed the area before installing landscape fabric to minimize the chances of weed growth.
Choosing the Right Landscape Fabric
Select Heavy, UV-Stabilized Fabrics
When it comes to choosing landscape fabric, it is important to select a heavy-duty option that is UV-stabilized. This ensures that the fabric will withstand exposure to sunlight without degrading or tearing. Heavy fabrics provide better weed control and are less likely to allow weeds to grow through.
Look for fabrics with a weight of at least 3 ounces per square yard for optimal weed suppression.
Avoid Lightweight Row Cover Fabrics
While lightweight row cover fabrics may be suitable for protecting plants from frost or insects, they are not ideal for weed control. These fabrics are often thin and can easily tear, allowing weeds to penetrate through.
Avoid using lightweight row cover fabrics for weed suppression purposes, as they are not designed to withstand the pressure from weed growth.
Pick Fabrics with Small Holes
One crucial factor to consider when choosing landscape fabric is the size of the holes or pores. Smaller holes prevent weeds from pushing through the fabric and establishing roots in the soil below. Look for fabrics with small holes, typically around 1/8 inch or smaller.
This will effectively block weed growth while still allowing water and nutrients to reach your plants.
Overlap Seams Properly
Properly overlapping seams is an essential step in installing landscape fabric. Overlapping the fabric ensures that there are no gaps for weeds to exploit. It is recommended to overlap the seams by at least 6 inches to create a strong barrier against weed growth.
Secure the overlapping edges with landscape fabric pins or staples to keep the fabric in place and prevent weeds from finding their way through.
For more information on choosing the right landscape fabric, you can visit gardeningknowhow.com. They provide in-depth guidance on various gardening topics, including weed control and landscape fabric selection.
Proper Installation Techniques
Clear the Area First
Before installing landscape fabric, it is crucial to clear the area of any existing weeds or vegetation. This step is often overlooked, but it is essential for preventing weeds from growing through the fabric. Take the time to remove any weeds, grass, or other plants by hand or using a garden tool.
This will create a clean slate for the installation process and minimize the chances of weed growth.
Use Stakes or Gravel to Hold Tight
Once the area is cleared, it’s time to lay down the landscape fabric. To ensure that it stays in place and doesn’t shift over time, use stakes or gravel to hold it tight. Stakes can be inserted along the edges of the fabric to secure it to the ground.
Additionally, placing gravel or decorative rocks on top of the fabric can help weigh it down and provide extra stability. This will prevent weeds from finding their way through gaps or loose fabric.
Bury Edges to Prevent Lifting
One common issue with landscape fabric is that the edges tend to lift up over time, creating an entry point for weeds. To prevent this, it is recommended to bury the edges of the fabric. Dig a shallow trench along the perimeter and tuck the edges of the fabric into it.
This will anchor the fabric securely and make it harder for weeds to penetrate. Ensure that the edges are buried deep enough to prevent any lifting or shifting.
Seal Seams and Edges Thoroughly
To further enhance the effectiveness of the landscape fabric, seal the seams and edges thoroughly. This can be done using landscape fabric adhesive or by overlapping multiple pieces of fabric and securing them with fabric staples.
By sealing the seams and edges, you create a barrier that is difficult for weeds to penetrate. It is important to ensure that there are no gaps or openings where weeds can grow through.
Proper installation techniques are essential for preventing weeds from growing through landscape fabric. By following these steps, you can create a weed-free and low-maintenance landscape that will enhance the beauty of your outdoor space for years to come.
Maintenance Tips for Preventing Weeds
Use Pre-Emergent Herbicides
One effective way to prevent weeds from growing through landscape fabric is to use pre-emergent herbicides. These herbicides work by forming a barrier in the soil that prevents weed seeds from germinating.
Before applying the herbicide, make sure to read and follow the instructions carefully to ensure it is applied correctly and at the right time. Pre-emergent herbicides can be a great tool in your weed prevention arsenal.
Hand Pull Weeds Quickly
In addition to using herbicides, it’s important to regularly inspect your landscape fabric for any emerging weeds. Hand pulling weeds as soon as you spot them can help prevent them from taking root and spreading.
Grab the weed as close to the base as possible and gently pull it out, making sure to remove the entire root system. Regularly checking for and hand pulling weeds is a proactive approach to keep your landscape fabric weed-free.
Reapply Mulch Over Fabric
Mulch is a great ally in the fight against weeds. By applying a layer of mulch over your landscape fabric, you create an additional barrier that helps suppress weed growth. Over time, the mulch may break down or be displaced, allowing weeds to find their way through the fabric.
To prevent this, regularly check the mulch layer and reapply as needed. This will not only enhance the appearance of your landscape but also provide extra protection against weeds.
Replace Damaged Fabric Promptly
Over time, landscape fabric can become damaged or torn, creating openings for weeds to grow through. It’s important to regularly inspect your fabric for any signs of damage and promptly replace any sections that are compromised.
By keeping your landscape fabric in good condition, you can minimize the chances of weeds finding a way through and invading your garden. Remember, prevention is key when it comes to weed control.
Implementing these maintenance tips can help you effectively prevent weeds from growing through your landscape fabric. By using pre-emergent herbicides, hand pulling weeds, reapplying mulch, and promptly replacing damaged fabric, you can maintain a weed-free and beautiful landscape.
Remember to stay proactive and regularly inspect your fabric for any signs of weed growth. Your efforts will pay off in the long run, leaving you with a low-maintenance and weed-free outdoor space.
Using Post-Emergent Herbicides on Existing Weeds
If you’re dealing with stubborn weeds that have already managed to break through your landscape fabric, using post-emergent herbicides can be an effective way to tackle the problem. These herbicides are specifically designed to target and kill existing weeds, helping you regain control of your garden or landscape.
Spot Treat with Glyphosate (RoundUp)
Glyphosate, commonly known by the brand name RoundUp, is one of the most popular and effective post-emergent herbicides available. It is a non-selective herbicide, meaning it will kill any plant it comes into contact with.
When using glyphosate, it’s important to spot treat the weeds rather than spraying the entire area. This will minimize the risk of damaging desirable plants and reduce the amount of herbicide used.
Pro tip: When applying glyphosate, make sure to follow the instructions on the label carefully. It’s best to apply the herbicide on a calm day to avoid drift and to wear protective clothing to prevent any contact with the skin.
Consider Pre-Emergent + Post-Emergent Mixes
In some cases, using a combination of pre-emergent and post-emergent herbicides can provide even better results. Pre-emergent herbicides are applied before weeds have a chance to germinate, creating a barrier that prevents weed growth.
By combining pre-emergent herbicides with post-emergent ones, you can tackle both existing weeds and prevent new ones from sprouting.
Did you know? Some pre-emergent herbicides can remain active in the soil for several months, providing long-term weed control.
Avoid Spraying Entire Area
When using post-emergent herbicides, it’s important to avoid spraying the entire area unless absolutely necessary. Spraying the entire area can lead to the destruction of desirable plants and can be harmful to the environment.
Instead, focus on spot treating the weeds and applying the herbicide directly to their foliage or roots.
Remember: Always read and follow the instructions on the herbicide label. Different herbicides have different application rates and recommended usage guidelines.
Landscape fabric can be a useful tool for suppressing weed growth, but it takes careful product selection, proper installation, and vigilant maintenance to truly stop weeds from poking through. By following the recommendations in this guide, you can win the battle against pesky weeds and enjoy the benefits that landscape fabric provides.
With a rigorous prevention plan and targeted controls for any weeds that do emerge, you’ll have pristine garden beds and walkways all season long.