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Homeowner finds how wrong they were with ‘slow way to kill a tree’ landscaping decision: ‘You’ll hate it later’

“Am I doing it right?”

"Am I doing it right?"

Photo Credit: iStock

One new homeowner was trying to right a wrong carried out by a landscaper, but sometimes even the best intentions can have disastrous results.

“New homeowner trying to improve my garden,” they wrote, along with a couple of photos they posted in the r/landscaping forum on Reddit. “Landscaper rolled sod up to and over the trees’ root flares, which I think is bad.” 

While that may not be an ideal situation for the base of a tree, what the Redditor did next was worse. 

“I have dug a circle around a tree, to let the tree breathe, and laid a plastic edge to have a clear separation between tree and lawn. I have laid landscaping fabric underneath and I’m going to put mulch on top,” they wrote.

The two pictures show the base of the tree. In one, the plastic landscaping fabric surrounds the base, while the second shows the base after the homeowner filled in the area with mulch.

"Am I doing it right?"
Photo Credit: Reddit
"Am I doing it right?"
Photo Credit: Reddit

“Am I doing it right?” they asked fellow landscaping enthusiasts on Reddit. While their intentions were good and they were seeking feedback, the simple answer is no, they are not doing it right, and their fellow Redditors were very quick to let them know just how not right it was. 

“Don’t waste your time with the fabric… you’ll hate it later,” one Redditor said.

“Don’t add fabric. The mulch is intended to break down and nourish the tree roots over time and it cannot do that with the fabric underneath. The sod would let the tree breathe better than fabric,” a Redditor responded, while another added, “I can’t stress this enough!” 

A fourth commenter warned, “This is a slow way to kill a tree. Roots need air and ventilation.”

There are numerous reasons why landscaping fabric is a terrible idea, the biggest being that it is a completely unnecessary use of plastic and typically causes more problems than it solves. 

Landscaping fabrics are often used to prevent weeds from growing but rarely actually work. One gardening expert has posted multiple videos on TikTok pleading with people not to use the toxic material. 

“I steer people away from landscape fabric when I get asked,” she captioned one video. “There is this idea out there that it really works to prevent weeds from growing. It doesn’t and I think it’s a waste of time and money.” 

One commenter gave the original poster some pretty solid advice: “Stop complicating it. Pull out the plastic … Maintain a woodchip ring around the base of the tree.” 

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