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Homeowner raises questions about using controversial landscaping product in garden: 'I would never intentionally put it down'

"It's not good."

"It's not good."

Photo Credit: iStock

A gardener took to Reddit to settle an internal conflict about landscape fabric — a seemingly controversial gardening tool. 

"I decided to get new mulch this year for our garden in [the] front yard," the Redditor explained in their post made to r/landscaping. "I thought might as well get landscape fabric to keep the weeds at bay under the mulch." 

"However, I'm having second doubts on whether it was [a] good decision or not to go with fabric," they continued. "If I'm going to regret having this fabric later on then I might as well chalk it up and remove the fabric now. What do you guys suggest I do? Is there no good reason to use the fabric?"

Landscape fabric is made of tightly woven fibers or solid sheets, and serves as a barrier to prevent weeds from growing while still letting water in. But many at-home landscapers, including those in this particular Reddit thread, take issue with the material. 

"I have spent hours of back breaking work digging it out of the yard in the house I bought," one user said. "I would never intentionally put it down. Bad for plants and impossible to plant anything new!"

"Landscape fabric interferes with water movement and disrupts soil/mulch contact, which is the interface where a lot of biologic activity happens," said another. 

"It's not good for earthworms — they can't reach the surface. Which makes sense if you've ever seen earthworms coming up during a heavy rain," one Redditor added.  

According to Meyer Landscape, organic gardening requires compost, and once you put down landscape fabric, it will be impossible to add amendments to the soil. Further, many weeds will still grow on top of the fabric where things like dust, grass clippings, and decomposed mulch collect. 

Additionally, according to Treehugger, landscape fabrics are primarily derived from fossil fuels. Over time, microplastic particles and harmful compounds can break off and enter the environment. This is especially concerning around edible plants. 

After laying out the many cons of landscape fabric, many Redditors were also quick to offer suggestions and alternatives — though the environmental concerns still remain. 

"I've used it mostly under decorative stone and gravel," said one user. "In those cases it can be helpful if you need to keep the stone looking tidy (stuff blows in and builds up all the time)."

"Another cheaper option is [to] use old newspaper or cardboard," added another. "It is easier to plant through in my opinion."

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