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Homeowner concerned about following traditional landscaping advice seeks alternatives: 'I just really hate the idea'

"Will I regret it?"

"Will I regret it?"

Photo Credit: iStock

Gardening can sometimes seem like a giant puzzle since there's so much to learn and a lot of conflicting advice online. 

One of the most common questions for gardeners is whether to use landscape fabric, a material that helps stabilize soil and reduce weed growth. However, there are better long-term options since it's not biodegradable and creates a mess when it eventually disintegrates. 

A homeowner who planned on revamping their yard asked the r/landscaping Reddit community for advice on alternatives to the controversial material. 

"I've been doing some research on how best to install pea gravel into my side yard and almost everywhere says to use landscape fabric. I just really hate the idea of burying plastic in my yard. Would an inch of paver base under the gravel work just as well or will I regret it?" they inquired

Several commenters shared the OP's sentiments about landscape fabric, but most agreed with the traditional landscaping material. 

"If you want stone, you need fabric. Don't listen to anyone saying otherwise. It will be a nightmare without fabric," one person said, explaining that landscape fabric would keep the stones clean and prevent them from sinking in the dirt. 

The OP asked if the stones would still sink into the soil if they put a few inches of paver base — a popular landscaping material composed of crushed stones — beneath the gravel. 

"It will be slower, but will still happen. Why so insistent on doing so much work? Just level it out, lay thick fabric, then add + tamp your gravel," someone replied

Even though commenters vehemently supported using landscape fabric, gardening experts from The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign College of Agricultural, Consumer & Environmental Sciences advise against it because it doesn't allow water and air to move freely, preventing plants from getting nutrients. While you can cut holes in the fabric, it still suffocates the plant roots and soil microorganisms. 

Plus, landscape fabrics can cause ecosystem damage since they contain harmful chemicals derived from petroleum, and microplastics may leach into the soil over time, according to Treehugger

"Landscape fabric + pea gravel will end up like a slip and slide. IMO spray for weeds with some pre emergent, then just use decomposed granite (DG)," one commenter suggested

"I use fabric, but only for stone…never mulch. We get more rain than most other places in the US, and to put stone straight down on soil is idiotic; unless you want mud pushing up through the stone in a year," another shared

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