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Know Your Garden Fabric

Here’s all that you need to know about garden fabric

Till some time recently, gardeners had a restricted choice when it came to getting their gardens rid of weeds. They would either do away with weeds using chemicals or they would need to get down on their knees and hands and do the de-weeding themselves. Nowadays, there is an eco friendly and easier option at their disposal in the form of garden fabric. Garden fabric or landscape fabric is available in various forms such as floating row covers, frost covers, shade netting, ground covers etc. Garden fabric helps to eliminate the weeds growing around your shrubs and trees and thereby saves your time and energy spent in de-weeding your garden. Garden fabrics are available either in woven, nonwoven or in spun bonded synthetic petroleum formats. It acts as a barrier against weeds and tree roots and keeps your garden clean and manageable. The standard barrier that is used for weed control is plastic mulch. It however prevents the roots from getting oxygen, water, and nutrients. It also keeps the root too wet which leads to an increase in root rotting diseases of the plants. Garden fabric is a better option compared to plastic as it allows the plants to breathe, allows water and air to permeate through it and does not adversely affect the health of your plants. According to nursery specialists, the best place to use garden fabrics is around shrubs and trees or under patios and decks where you do not want the weeds to grow. Nursery specialists do not recommend using them for perennial plants and flowers. They are also of the opinion that you should not have extremely high expectations that these fabrics will control all weeds.

How to use garden fabrics

When you plan to install garden fabric, first and foremost you need to clear the area of all existing weeds. It is advisable that you install them after planting so that you can fit it properly around the plants. Next, you anchor the garden fabric with the help of metal pins with at least six inches gap between each. Then you can cover it with mulch if you wish to. Nowadays, you get UV stabilized garden fabric which can easily last for more than five years even when it is exposed to direct sunlight. As per research, you should not have more than one inch depth of organic mulch over your garden fabric. If you apply organic mulch deeper than this, it will allow weed seeds to easily germinate in the mulch. This will then eventually tear apart the garden fabric when you pull them and allow more weeds to penetrate. Inorganic mulch is relatively less weedy and it also keeps your soil drier compared to other organic mulch. If for your particular area temperature and soil moisture is a concern, then you should choose a type of mulch that is appropriate for your type of soil.  

Selecting the best garden fabric

There are a wide variety of garden fabric brands available in the market these days. However, in general, the best brands to suppress weed growth are the one which have the smallest sized pores. These small pores do not allow weed or tree roots to penetrate and gain a strong foothold in the garden fabric. It is always recommended that you use commercial grade garden fabric. In case you wish to use weed barrier fabric, ensure that you put it down before you plant your seeds. It allows you to make holes of proper sizes and avoids damaging your plants during the application process. Place the garden fabric with the fuzzy side down, so that it allows water to flow and gets absorbed down through the fabric into the soil.

Selecting the land for placing your garden fabric

Always look for a clean surface and place your garden fabric on the smooth surface. If the surface isn’t flat, you should clean, level, and smoothen it before you apply the fabric to derive maximum benefit from it. If you decide to skip this step, some weeds which may be already present in the soil may grow through the uneven surface.

Fertilizing the soil well before you place your garden fabric

If you place your garden fabric before fertilizing the soil, you won’t be able to add compost or any other organic fertilizer to the soil. So you must ensure to fertilize the soil well as per the required level and then place the garden fabric over it. Garden fabric is usually of a permanent nature and hence it may not be suitable for plants that need additional attention. Once you lay down the fabric, it is next to impossible to fertilize the soil again with compost or other organic fertilizers every year.

Anchoring the garden fabric

You should always anchor your garden fabric with the help of U-shaped garden fabric pins to prevent it from becoming loose or flapping around due to wind. You must anchor the garden fabric at approximately every foot and apply the pins as per your requirement.

Edge Treatment

To get the best results of using garden fabric, the level of your garden beds should be a couple of inches lower than the edges of your pathway or garden. Edging enables you to fold the garden fabric a little extra around the edges of your garden. If you have a wide garden, you would need to use fabric that covers the entire area and overlap the edges with a minimum of around one foot of the garden fabric.

Apply mulch after installing the garden fabric

After you have finished applying the garden fabric, spread around 3 inches of mulch across the garden area. The mulch covers the fabric and protects it against adverse weather conditions and also prevents the soil from getting over heated. It also keeps the seedling from receiving sunlight and thus prevents them from making holes in the garden fabric with their roots.

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