Landscape fabric is a versatile and inexpensive way to add curb appeal and protect landscape plants from the elements.
It’s easy to install, quite durable, and resistant to many environmental conditions.
Learn how you can easily add such a successful addition to your home in this blog post!
How to Install Landscape Fabric: What You’ll Need
There are numerous ways you can go about installing landscape fabric into your yard. Some use only a few basic items, whereas others may need more. Every installation will be different, and depends on what you plan to install. This post will cover the most basic of setups:
Installing Landscape Fabric Using Plastic Sheeting
For this basic setup, you’ll need:
- A piece of reflective plastic sheeting (such as plastic-coated polypropylene sheeting)
- Flat barbs (to secure the fabric to your landscaping)
- Cord ties (for attachment)
Landscape fabrics come in a variety of shapes and sizes. It’s recommended to select the size that best suits the area you’re working with.
Step 1- Measuring the Area
The first step is to measure the area where you intend to install your landscape fabric.
It’s important to note that landscape fabrics are not rigid; they will curl and bend in unexpected ways when subjected to strong winds, extreme temperatures, or heavy foot traffic.
Take your time and ensure your measurements are spot-on! You can also make adjustments later; landscape fabrics come in several widths (and even more lengths!).
Step 2 – Laying Out the Fabric
Once you’ve selected the appropriate length, measure out roughly 6 inches from one end of your fabric piece. This will leave a little “give” in your lawn, and allow for adjustments to be made later. If you’re planning to use the same fabric piece for more than one area of your yard, be sure to leave it long enough so you can cut multiple pieces.
If you’re planning to install landscape fabric around shrubs, take this opportunity to measure out the areas where you’ll need it. Angle each measurement so that each piece will overlap slightly (preferably by at least 2 inches).
Note that landscape fabrics are not 100% waterproof. They’re designed to shield your plants from wind, cold, and precipitation – but not everything! If you’re planting a vulnerable plant – such as a ground cover – within the area that will be covered by the fabric, it may need a little extra TLC.
Landscape fabrics don’t have to be used exclusively around trees and cedar hedges. In fact, they can easily be added to protect your yard from extreme temperatures. Simply measure out an area where you would like additional protection from cold or heat (such as along the north side of your home or around patio furniture).
Step 3 – Cut the Fabric
Finally, cut the fabric to the appropriate length. You can always trim it to size later, or even skip this step, if you don’t plan on adding any decorative elements.
In order to secure your plastic sheeting to your landscaping, you’ll need a flat barbs and a cord tie.
A flat barb is a stainless steel spring-less wire that has been coiled into a “V” shape. It has a flat end that will fit into the crevice of your landscaping material without damaging the surface (so long as it doesn’t stick out too far). The other end has an opening at one end (into which you’ll insert your cord tie).
It’s important to note that the length of the cord tie will vary from one garden to the next. In some cases, you may want it long enough to secure your sheeting along your entire length. In other cases, you might only need to secure a small section of your sheeting – such as around a flowerbed.
Step 4- Preparing the Landscape Fabric
The final step is to prepare your landscape fabric for installation. You’ll need to cut off the top of one side of your sheeting so that it will lie flat on the ground. The best way to do this is by cutting it with a pair of sharp scissors.
Alternatively, you can use a heavy duty knife or even a pair of wire cutters – but be sure not to damage any other edges or corners!
Ground Cover Installation
To begin, attach your barbs to landscape fabric using your cord tie. It’s best to work from the center of your sheeting outwards; lay down a row of barbs on top of the fabric (along the very first row), then secure them with your cord ties (make sure they do not stick out too far!). You can overlap each row by about 1-2 inches (this will give you some “wiggle room” for adjustments).
When you reach the end of your sheeting, simply secure your barbs together. You can even run your cord ties up the tree if you’re having difficulty pulling them back through the fabric!
You can also repeat this process along the inside perimeter of your sheeting if you’re trying to create an area that is more protected. This will help give it extra support, and will make it easier to attach any nearby plants (assuming they won’t be damaged by the barbs).
As with most landscaping projects, you’ll want to leave several inches of space between each row. This will allow for natural growth and for adjustments down the road.
Now that you’ve installed your landscape fabric, you won’t need to worry about watering it as often. This is because the channel of the fabric will prevent the water from evaporating as quickly as it would normally. In addition, your lawn will be protected from extreme temperatures and strong winds.
That’s all there is to it!
Your Questions about Landscape Fabric, Answered.
Can I put landscape fabric over weeds?
Many of us ask this question, and the answer is both “yes” and “no”. It all depends on what you want to do.
If you want to kill the weeds then we recommend that you don’t cover them up with landscape fabric. Weed killers and poisons will not be able to get through it and reach the roots of the weed. If your intention is to suppress zoysia from spreading, then landscape fabric may have a place in your yard by wrapping around planted areas with a few inches of clearance between each roll for weed growth. It is important to have a clear space of at least 3″ so the weeds do not have a head start from being flush to the ground and growth will be contained. Keep in mind that you must plant something else in that space otherwise it will simply become a mulch garden.
If you want to keep the weeds under control, then we recommend that you install landscape fabric over them. Use it as a trap or containment around existing plants to catch their roots. If they escape the fabric and grow through, they will be forced back into it and eventually die because of drying conditions.
Do you have to staple down landscape fabric?
Absolutely not! If you’re stapling the fabric to the ground, then it’s a form of erosion control.
You can use a pin or rope to hold it down instead. This will avoid holes in the ground and also save on materials since you won’t need as many staples. Pinning them with metal stakes is often used for windbreaks and noise barriers, but keep in mind that these posts take up more space than you might think!
For something like a windbreak, try laying two sheets of 1-inch thick poly-iso foam about 1 foot apart and securing them with stakes so they don’t move around during high winds.
Should landscape fabric go under gravel?
The answer depends on what you are trying to accomplish. If your intent is to prevent weed growth in a walkway, then you should place landscape fabric under the gravel. If the intent is to block weeds in a garden bed, then place it on top of the gravel so that it can be easily removed for weeding or for cultivating plants.
The reasoning behind having landscape fabric on top of the gravel for a garden bed is simple. If you lay it down under the gravel, when you need to weed it, you will be digging through the gravel and disturbing the soil.
If you have any earth-moving equipment at all, then landscape fabric is meant to be placed under the gravel. It will prevent soil erosion if there is heavy rain or if equipment is being moved around.