The Proper Way to Install Landscaping Fabric

The Proper Way to Install Landscaping Fabric

Laying down a landscaping fabric is the easiest and most common and effective way to prevent weed growth in your garden beds. Indeed, landscape fabric prevents weed growth and its seed from germinating in the soil. It is also made to be “breathable” and let water, air, and nutrients get in the soil to feed the plants.

When laying down landscaping fabric, roll it out on the entire area where you want to prevent weed growth. Once laid down, cut off the excess fabric using a utility knife or scissors. Make sure to leave an allowance around the edges of the garden bed. If you’ll be using more than one sheet of landscape fabric, make sure that each section overlaps by 6 to 12 inches. 

In this article, we will discuss how to properly install landscape fabric in a garden, on a slope, in a tree, and with edging. We will also tell you what may happen if you install the landscape fabric incorrectly.


How to Install Landscape Fabric

Landscape fabric is widely used by professionals, amateur landscapers, and gardeners to control invasive and annoying weeds affecting the growth of the plants in our gardens. Landscape fabric is made from woven fibers with perforated holes to allow water to soak through the lawns and gardens.

There are different types and brands of landscaping fabric on the market. If you want a landscape fabric that lasts long, choose a professional-grade one. A professional-grade fabric has a thicker and heavier material, making it less prone to tearing. Meanwhile, inexpensive and thin landscape fabric is prone to tearing, creating an opening for weeds to invade your plants.

Most landscape materials are made of permeable woven fabric that stifle weed while allowing water to reach the plant and its roots. However, there are few drawbacks to landscape fabric, damaging your garden soil being one of the most common ones. Luckily, with proper installation, you can avoid this problem.

Before jumping in, here are some tools and materials you’ll need to install a landscape fabric:

  • Tape measure
  • Garden hoe
  • Landscape staples
  • Plants
  • Mulch
  • Bow rake
  • Utility knife or scissors
  • Rubber mallet or hammer

Once you’ve chosen your landscape fabric and prepared the tools and materials you will use, it is time to move forward with the installation process. Here is how to properly install landscape fabric.

Step 1: Measure the Area

The first step in the landscape fabric installation consists of measuring the area where you plan on putting it. Doing so will make it easier for you to know how much fabric and how many landscape staples to buy.

Step 2: Remove the Weeds

Using a garden hoe, dig up the unwanted weeds growing where you will be putting the landscape fabric. Make sure to remove them entirely, including their roots.

You could also use herbicides for a faster process. However, if you choose this option, let the product sit for a few days before laying down the landscape fabric. Using herbicide will ensure that all existing weeds get killed.

Step 3: Clear and Level the Soil’s Surface

Using a rake, eliminate all the uprooted weeds, rocks, twigs, and other materials that could rip the landscape fabric. Rake the soil to make it as smooth, flat, and leveled as possible

Step 4: Add Soil Amendments

Once you’ll install the landscape fabric, you will no longer have access to the soil. So, if you want your soil to be in the best conditions, you can add compost, manure, fertilizer, and other plant food before laying the fabric.

Step 5: Lay the Landscaping Fabric

Now, it’s time to install your landscape fabric. Roll it out on the entire area where you want to prevent weed growth. Once laid down, cut off the excess fabric using a utility knife or scissors. Make sure to leave an allowance around the edges of the garden bed.

If you’re using more than one sheet of landscape fabric, make sure that each section overlaps by 6 to 12 inches. No overlap or insufficient overlap can allow the weeds to go through the seams of the fabric.

If you have purchased a landscape fabric, an instructional manual comes along with it. Read it carefully to figure out which side goes face down in the soil. Most of the time, it will be the fuzzy side.

Step 6: Secure the Landscape Fabric

Use a landscape staple to secure the fabric. Tamp the staples down into the soil using a rubber mallet or hammer. Avoid skimping on the landscape staples if you want the fabric to stay in place for years. Staple every 8 to 12 inches along all edges of the fabric and seams where separate sections meet.

Step 7: Plants your Shrubs, Vegetables, or Flowers

When planting vegetables, shrubs, or flowers in a garden with landscape fabric, cut an X shape using a utility knife or scissors. Make sure to cut big enough incisions to dig a hole for the plants.

Pull back the triangular flaps of the landscape fabric to dig your hole and insert the plant inside of it. Fill the hole with soil and pack it around the roots to prevent air pockets. Once you’re done planting, secure the landscape fabric flaps snugly around the base of the plant. Make sure it is secure so that weeds can’t break through it.

Step 8: Add Mulch

Add 2 to 3 layers of mulch on top of the landscaping fabric. This will help your fabric look clean and protect it against harmful ultraviolet rays. Mulch can also help retain the moisture of the soil underneath the landscape fabric.

With the landscape fabric in place, you can use the organic or inorganic mulch of your choice, including wood chips, bark, river rocks, gravel, and rubber.

Step 9: Maintain your Garden Bed

Installing a landscape fabric doesn’t guarantee that weed will not grow and invade your garden. Weed seeds can germinate on the top of the fabric through decomposed organic mulch or blow-in dirt as soil.

However, you can use a pre-emergent weed control product to prevent new weeds from sprouting. Put this to your mulch at the beginning of every growing season. Also, make sure to remove and replace your organic mulch every time it breaks down.

If you are using inorganic mulch such as river rocks or rubbers, the only maintenance you’ll have to do is remove and spray it with water if dirt and debris are starting to build up. As long as you maintain the mulch on the landscape fabric and use weed prevention products, you’ll have clean and weed-free garden beds.


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How to Install Landscape Fabric in Vegetable Garden

As you already know, landscape fabric isn’t the best option to prevent weed growth in your garden beds, especially for annual vegetable gardens. You are likely to tear the fabric when you dig up the plants at the end of the growing season.

Newspapers and cardboard are ideal options for a vegetable garden as they eventually break down into the soil and add nutrients. Plus, they are either cheap or free, so money isn’t a problem, even though you will have to replace them yearly.

For vegetable gardens, you can just use landscape fabric beneath the soil. When installing the landscape fabric beneath the garden soil, use one unbroken sheet for each bed. Anchor the fabric using landscape staples, and then, shove the soil for your vegetables over it.


How to Install Landscape Fabric in Trees

When installing a landscape fabric around fully grown trees, you will have to overlap several pieces of fabric around the base of the tree’s trunk. Secure the fabric using landscape staples.

If you are laying down a landscaping fabric for a tree seedling, use 4×4 or 6×6-square-foot landscaping fabric. Cut a hole at the center of the square, where the seedling is. After you’ve placed the fabric around the seedling, dig a trench 3 to 6 inches deep around the seedlings’ edges. Then, tuck the landscape fabric into the trench and cover it with soil to secure and hold it in place.


How to Install Landscape Fabric on a Slope

When installing a landscape fabric on a slope, you’ll need to carve “shelves” or “steps” into it and fill them with gravel or large rocks. The rocks will act as a support and stable base for the landscape fabric to sit on.

Also, when you lay the landscape fabric over the stones, ensure a separate piece of fabric overlaps in the downhill direction. In this way, the organic mulch that slides down will not slip under the seams, thus loosening the fabric. This will also prevent water from getting under the fabric as it drains down from the top of the slope.


How to Install Landscape Fabric with Edging

Installing landscape fabric and landscaping edging is easy to do. All you have to do is lay the fabric and leave a few inches at the edge of the garden bed. Before laying down the fabric, you must first have to dig a trench for it. Wrap the extra fabric around the bottom of the edging material before securing it into the trench. The edging will help keep the landscape fabric secure on the garden bed.

If you want to install landscape fabric but already have a garden bed with an edging, simply tuck the extra fabric securely between the soil and edging material.


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What Happens if You Install Your Landscape Fabric the Wrong Way?

Installing a landscape fabric requires a lot of planning and preparation, so getting it done for the first time is a great achievement. Landscaping fabrics are designed based on the manufacturer, and some are designed to be used with one specific side facing up.

However, installing landscape fabric incorrectly could harm and ruin your beloved garden. It would hinder the moisture transfer and speed up the fabric deterioration. Here’s what will happen if you incorrectly laid down your landscape fabric.

Moisture Build Up

With some designs and types of landscaping fabric, the shiny side faces up and the matte and felted side faces down. The landscape fabric is made to stick to the soil, preventing it from sliding down. The felted side helps the water freely move through the landscape fabric and down to the soil.

If you lay the fabric upside down, the moisture will still penetrate the fabric, but at a slower rate than if it had been laid down properly. However, not all landscape fabrics come with a shiny side. If you have purchased one with two identical sides, it doesn’t matter which side faces down.

Weeds and Seeds

Landscape fabric helps prevent weeds from growing and seeds from germinating. However, it doesn’t make the garden weed-proof. Seeds floats are just around landing in the mulch. If you have purchased landscape fabric with a shiny side, lay the shiny side up to prevent weeds from growing down through the fabric and getting in the soil.

Weeds are hard to pull once they lodge into the fabric and their roots start to tear it. Make sure to pull the weeds as soon as you see them to prolong the life of the landscape fabric.

Upside Down

Steep slopes can bring some challenges like mulch sliding down and pooling at the bottom. When laying landscape fabric on a hill, lay it upside down; the felted side must be laid up to hold up the mulch in place. Also, it is best to use shredded mulch instead of wood chips if you are working on a steep slope.



Keeping your garden weed free is one of the challenges that you will face as a garden owner. You can simply allot some time everyday to remove them, but this is not a good solution for the problem in the long run. There are a lot of ways to prevent weeds from growing in your garden and one of them is using landscape fabric.

Landscape fabric may not be the best option to prevent weed growth in your garden beds, but many prefer to use it anyway due to its long lifespan and ease of installation. If you choose to make use of this weed deterrent, make sure to follow the steps shared above to install your landscape fabric correctly. Otherwise, it will not function as a weed barrier. If you don’t have experience in installing landscape fabric, you can call a friend or hire a professional landscaper to install it for you.

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