When it comes to weeds and what to do with weeds landscaping fabric can be useful.  But does landscaping fabric really work?  Landscaping fabric is often used in shrub or tree beds to prevent weeds from growing. Landscaping fabric is popular in xeriscaping and we talk about that in how to xeriscape your garden.  There are many landscaping fabric options on the market but many of them are practically useless when it comes from preventing weed growth.  Landscaping fabric does reduce weeds substantially but it will not totally eliminate your weeds.

Remove weeds and roots before applying landscaping fabric

It is very important to completely remove weeds and their root systems before you apply a landscaping fabric.  Tearing off the top of the weeds will not be sufficient if you want to totally stop the particular weed from growing.  Roots and spores lurk below the surface of the soil somethings they can be as deep or deeper than one foot. If you don’t remove these weeds many of them will find their way through the fabric.  The most evasive and persistent weed is quack grass.  It can poke through even the tightest weaved landscaping fabric and spread to other areas of your garden beds.

Persistent unwanted perennials can be a problem

Perennials can be a fantastic addition to your garden bed but if you don’t want them there anymore they can be very difficult to totally eliminate.  Landscaping fabric will help slow down your perennials but if you don’t fully remove the perennial and the root system you may see them return to your garden.  Many homeowners or landscapers in Calgary assume that simply removing perennials from the surface of the soil will get rid of them for good.  Perennials often have extensive root systems, root spores and tubers that will continue germinating and coming back again and again.  The best way to insure your perennials won’t return is to remove all the soil to a depth of 12″ and replace the soil with a high quality, clean garden mix.

Herbicides greatly reduce weed regrowth

If you are not opposed to using herbicides then this can be a very effective way to eliminate your weeds.  Round up used to be know as a safe product that did not have any health effects on humans.  Now, there seems to be conflicting studies and reports that it may be a carcinogen.  If you plan to use Round up or a herbicide that is similar be sure to only spray it on a wind free day.  Any drift will kill your surrounding shrubs and grass.  Also, follow safety precautions and wear protective clothing.  Make sure none of the herbicide contacts your skin and keep children and pets away from the sprayed areas for several weeks,.  Products like Round up are a systemic herbicide.  When you spray it on the leaves the plant takes the herbicide in as it grows and the herbicide will totally kill the weed or perennial within 1-2 weeks.  If you need to eliminate weeds and perennials then spray Round up a few weeks before you plant your new garden,  The weeds and perennials will fully die and you can remove them and their roots from the soil.

Choose the highest quality fabric

It is very important to choose highest quality fabric for your garden beds.  Big box stores typically sell very low end fabric that you can tear with your hand.  This will not work at all to stop or slow down weeds.  Don’t waste your money on this fabric.  Instead purchase a high grade fabric that is as thick as possible.  This thick fabric will help stop and slow down weed growth.  Many professional garden centres and landscape suppliers sell this high quality landscaping fabric.  IT is well worth spending the extra money for good fabric if you want to reduce weed growth in your garden beds.

Don’t expect 100% weed reduction

Once you apply a landscaping fabric you may assume that your garden will be zero maintenance and there will be no need for weeding in the future.  Unfortunately this is not true.  If you have installed your landscaping fabric around trees or shrubs then you there will always be a some bare soil around the base of your plantings,  Weeds will germinate and grow in these areas so you will need to hand pull the weeds that arise here.  Also, weed seeds from grass cuttings, neighbouring properties or parks often blow in to your property and the weed can actually germinate on to of the fabric.  Especially if there is a wood mulch over the landscaping fabric.  The weed roots will then make their way through the fabric and get moisture and nutrients from the soil.  If you have properly removed weeds and roots from the soil before applying the landscaping fabric then you will likely see about a 75% reduction in weeds.  This is significant but it still means hand weeding will be a necessity.  So, the answer to does landscaping fabric really work? is Yes but it does have its limitations.