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Landscape Fabric Sucks


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I think landscape fabric sucks.  I didn’t realize this until recently though.


Whether you call it weed cloth, landscape fabric or geotextile I am pretty sure it’s all terrible.   From rock beds to my beloved raised beds, I’m done with it.  I didn’t fully appreciate how much it can suck until a few weeks ago.  I recently wrote about harvesting my growing medium out of the raised beds.  In the process ran into the landscape fabric we had put down.

At the time it seemed sound to sequester the growing medium from the crappy soil below.  Fast forward two years and I see a couple issues.  Despite having glorious, fluffy, rich growing medium I found no worms.  In a bed full of beautiful fluff I would have expected worms, but of course, it was my fault for blocking their access.  Whoops.

Empty Bed

Once I removed the fill and reached the landscape material I realized we had used two types in different places, one plastic and one fabric.  Both had suffered issues.   The plastic had deep chive roots growing through so it had basically stopped working.  Instead of keeping stuff where it should have been it became a tangled mass, bound to the ground by roots.  Removing it meant digging deep, like 8 inches,  and then trying to untangled and free the plastic bits from the roots and dirt below.

The fabric looked normal upon first glance, but trying to pull it up revealed it had deteriorated to the point where trying to remove it left tatters and chunks everywhere. Essentially, I had turned the bottom of the beds into a garbage pit. It took a lot of sifting to remove the pieces and in the end I left a lot of the edges in the beds.  I’m still finding chunks of it blowing around the backyard.  I am guessing/hoping it will eventually decompose into bits.

In addition to making a giant mess, the soil underneath the fabrics was still total crap.  While I am sure nutrients had filtered through, the landscape fabric had served to keep the fluffy stuff away from the soil below.  This was totally my intention in the beginning, but years later I feel like that was short-sighted.  I could have been improving the soil at a much deeper level without the need for long-term separation.  The layer underneath was tightly compacted and possibly worse off  in texture than when I started.

Since I am convinced landscape fabric sucks I will never use it again.  I’ll probably start with layers of cardboard or newspaper to give an area a good start.  This will eventually let the soil below co-mingle with my fortified mix once the paper degrades and it will all be one down the road.  Worms will be free to roam.  It will also allow the deep soil in an area to improve in time instead of just relying on mix.

Gardening is definitely a learn as you go thing and this is one lesson I won’t forget.