Does Landscape Fabric Help Prevent Weeds?

One question we get asked a lot is whether it’s worthwhile to lay landscape fabric beneath mulch for weed prevention. While using landscape fabric sounds like a good idea, it’s typically a short-term fix that will eventually run its course. To explain why this is, let’s look at the different kinds of mulch and how they perform in your landscape.

Organic Mulch

Organic mulch consists of any type of material spread or laid over the surface of soil that will naturally decompose over time, so think about materials like bark, compost, shredded leaves, etc. These kinds of mulch have the added benefit of improving the fertility of the soil as decomposition occurs. When landscape fabric is laid beneath organic mulch, it will have two undesirable effects:

  • First, it creates a barrier that prevents the decomposing material from contributing their nutrients into the soil for plants in that area.
  • Second, this decomposed organic material will then become a layer of soil-like matter that rests on top of the fabric, thus providing an ideal environment for weeds to grow.

So, in this instance, while initially the landscape fabric was helping to prevent weeds, it ended up contributing to an environment conducive to their germination.

Inorganic Mulch

Inorganic mulch, sometimes referred to as synthetic mulch, would include other materials such as gravel and stone, both of which work well in landscape beds and have great aesthetic appeal. Landscape fabric under this type of material has better long-term results because these inorganic materials don’t decompose; however, it is important to note that if you choose to use landscape fabric beneath rock, it still won’t be 100% effective against weed prevention. This is because soil and organic matter from the surrounding areas will get blown in or washed in by drainage from other areas, allowing for weeds to germinate above the matting.

Long-Term Weed Prevention

So, the question is: are you looking for a short-term fix or a long-term solution to weeds in your landscape?

Landscape fabric will help reduce weeds in the short term while the mulch is fresh and there isn’t organic matter settled on top of it, but give it a couple years and you’ll have weeds again. So, when we think long term, the best way to prevent weeds is to use pre-emergent annually and to keep up with seasonal treatment applications.

Need Help With Your Weeds?

Our team is here to help! With over 20 years of experience, our team has the knowledge and expertise to help you manage the weeds in your lawn and landscape. Our approach to a healthy lawn and landscape incorporates a balance of fertilization and weed treatments that aim to improve the health of your property, therefore leaving less room for weeds. We don’t blanket chemicals; rather, we use pre-emergent as prevention for weed seeds and then spot treat for other weeds that have already emerged, as needed. Want to get control of weeds growing in your lawn or landscape? Give us a shout today!