A gardener took to Reddit over the summer to get advice on how to fix a landscaping problem.
“What’s the easiest way to remove weed fabric?” they asked the r/gardening subreddit. “Is there an alternative to shoveling the few inches of dirt off it, pulling it, then redistributing the dirt? Pregnant lady looking for an easy way out that’s not hiring someone.”
Answers rolled in, and the consensus seemed to involve pulling it up ASAP.
“If it still has enough integrity, sometimes you can carefully pull it up a few inches at a time and peel away the adhering dirt,” one user wrote. “But it’s always hard, frustrating work and someone should be helping you – it’s much easier with two pairs of hands.”
Another Redditor echoed that answer and advised using a box cutter to cut the landscaping fabric as well.
Others, however, said it would be fine for the poster to leave the material and plant their shrubs, native perennials, and zinnias and other annuals atop it. The bushes would require X’s to be cut into the fabric so their roots could penetrate deeply.
That was likely to cause a bigger headache down the line, though.
Landscaping fabric doesn’t prevent weeds from germinating, and it can be a hassle to manage even in the best circumstances. You may end up needing lawn maintenance equipment anyway, and the soil could be harmed by a lack of interaction with a topcoat of decomposing mulch.
Moreover, the textile is usually petroleum-based — it doesn’t break down, and it can leach toxins into the ecosystem. Because of that, it’s especially important to avoid if you’re growing your own food.
Popular alternatives include cardboard, newspaper, and mulch. Even if you’re thinking of putting the fabric down in an area away from plants — say, under rocks or sand — the resulting mess and subsequent undoing work can dash all the hopes present at the start of the project.
“Absolutely do not do that,” one user stated, urging the poster to not focus on the easy way out or trying to save “a lot of work.”
“It’s only going to get harder to rip out. Just do it,” the commenter continued. “I was tearing out weed paper when I was 40 weeks pregnant. It was very hard but in my opinion worth it.”
The prescient commenter poured out information, writing this among other gems: “The fabric will always be an impediment to the ecosystem of the soil.
“When I finally ripped out my weed fabric, I was so shocked at how much happier my plants became, even plants that had some distance from the fabric.”
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