Return to the Landscape Design Forum | Post a Follow-Up

 o
Landscape fabric / weed barrier

Posted by lucky8926 5 (My Page) on
Tue, Aug 25, 09 at 17:24

We are re-landscaping a garden in our front yard and we put landscaping fabric down. We got some stuff that was heavy duty 20 year commercial use. We got this instead of the 5,10, or 15 year stuff cause we wanted to make sure we wouldn't have a weed issue. ANYWAY, we watered the flowers and noticed water was beading up on the fabric and even puddled up in a few places. This obviously has me a little worried because if it's not soaking through, the flowers aren't going to get enough wate and we will be dealing with puddles in low spots. My question is, will water soak through this stuff after it has been down a while????


Follow-Up Postings:

 o
RE: Landscape fabric / weed barrier

I don't think you will get many responses that will support your choice of laying down landscape fabric as weed control - too many of us have dealt with this personally or professionally with pretty unsatisfactory results. First, it doesn't work as well as one would hope, there is no opportunity for organic matter to replenish the soil, it is difficult to water or fertilize, it makes it very difficult to divide existing plants or add new plantings, groundcovers are impossible and it just doesn't look very good.....unless you cover it with mulch and weeds will eventually appear in mulch also. And it does breakdown with exposure to UV rays over time.

As to the water pooling or puddling -- the wholesale grower I used to work for used commercial grade landscape fabric to cover the can beds to keep weeds down. Even though the beds were canted to encourage drainage, with daily summer irrigation there was always standing water on the beds. In winter it was like a lake but the plants were then all undercover in greenhouses.


 o
RE: Landscape fabric / weed barrier

  • Posted by bboy USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA (My Page) on
    Wed, Aug 26, 09 at 0:23

The main problem is that once any organic material of sufficient age is present on top of the fabric, there is a substrate for weeds to grow. Old bark mulch will eventually support quite a nice assortment of weeds quite well. Even if you instead cover the fabric with cobbles any fallen leaves or other organic debris coming in from nearby trees and shrubs will eventually build up a base for weeds to grow in.


 o
RE: Landscape fabric / weed barrier

I know a lot of people don't like using weed barriers but I'm not asking opinions on whether or not I should use it. There was some already down in the beds when we moved into this house and it was virtually weed free so we decided to use it again.
My question was is it normal for water to bead/puddle up on this stuff when it's wet??
I don't want this to turn into a debate over weed barrier, there are already enough of them on here.


 o
RE: Landscape fabric / weed barrier

Well, you got your answer!


 o
RE: Landscape fabric / weed barrier

Not really.....


 o
RE: Landscape fabric / weed barrier

Is there any validity to the idea that landscape fabric can be "wetted in" when installed to break water surface tension?


 o
RE: Landscape fabric / weed barrier

As to the water pooling or puddling -- the wholesale grower I used to work for used commercial grade landscape fabric to cover the can beds to keep weeds down. Even though the beds were canted to encourage drainage, with daily summer irrigation there was always standing water on the beds. In winter it was like a lake but the plants were then all undercover in greenhouses.

Is there something about this statement you don't understand or is unclear?


 o
RE: Landscape fabric / weed barrier

  • Posted by bboy USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA (My Page) on
    Wed, Aug 26, 09 at 13:14

Actually one could wonder if inadequate drainage below the fabric was the problem in this case. If the grade of the site permitted water to collect on top of the fabric, it was possible for it to accumulate underneath it as well.

Unless there was a big depression in the middle of the fabric, resulting in the "lake". But I wouldn't expect it to be completely impervious anyway. Certainly not like black plastic sheeting.

I think

>We got this instead of the 5,10, or 15 year stuff cause we wanted to make sure we wouldn't have a weed issue<

makes my response perfectly relevant as well. You might start out hoping you are only going to hear what fits perfectly with your assumptions, but if there is a potential or definite flaw in one of them you really should be better off having someone point that out.

The last time I worked in a nursery growing area weeds pulled out of pots and dumped onto the commercial grade mat were able to grow in the lumps of potting soil on top of the mat. When these were pulled later they often had taken root into the mat, from above. In a most environment it does not take much to support plant growth.


 o
RE: Landscape fabric / weed barrier

The whole bed has a slope to it,which has me worried that even if it will evenutaly allow water to soak through after it sits for a while, the slope won't allow the water to stay up top, instead it runs to the bottom of the bed...
gardengal48, as you mentioned one person you used to work for using one brand of landscape fabric thats an ok answer. I'm looking for someone that has used several types and brands of landscape fabric that knows whether it is or isn't normal for water to bead up and not soak through at first...


 o
RE: Landscape fabric / weed barrier

Lucky, perhaps your best route would be to contact either the company you bought this from or the manufacturer.

Rosie


 o
RE: Landscape fabric / weed barrier

The higher the grade/longer the estimated lifetime of the fabric, the denser the weave and therefore the more impervious the fabric is to water penetration. Actually, you'll likely get better water penetration with the cheaper stuff -- it just won't last as long or be as effective in weed control. The slope would be a concern. Even when no fabric is used, it is sometimes difficult for water to be properly absorbed over a sloped surface. And with the canted beds I referred to - peaked slightly in the center with a gradual slope to the sides - the water puddled along the lower edges

And I don't think poor drainage was an issue with the water puddling. In areas where no fabric was used the water drained away promptly.


 o
RE: Landscape fabric / weed barrier

I tried to contact the manufacturer but apparently they don't have a website. Yardworks is the brand. Yahoo, and google search came up with nothing. Even checked the packaging to see if it's actually a different company that owns or manufactures it. Nothing, only name is Yardworks...

I figured the better/longer lasting stuff would let less water through but didn't expect it to bead up!! LOL

I did a couple experiments. Used a small piece of it put it over a glass then used a rubberband to keep it in place. Then poured a lil water on top and left it to see if it soaked through. I got some really weird results. Not a drop of water in the glass, but instead a puddle AROUND the glass. It appears the fabric soaked up the water and leaked down to the corners of the fabric.......


 o
RE: Landscape fabric / weed barrier

How did you prepare the soil in your flower beds? Is it nice rich loamy soil? Not asking re: the fabric's own properties per se, but because of the idea that no more improvements are possible after application of the fabric, and slope/water absorption issues are in part affected by the quality of the soil as well as factors such as the degree of slope.


 o
RE: Landscape fabric / weed barrier

There were shrubs there that had been there for many years like probably at least 15. They were pulled out and left a BUNCH of roots. It was nit maintained at all because there were weeds and small trees galore. I spent several days pulling trees, and roots then plowed real deep as to cut any roots I couldn't see. The soil is very dark and rich looking so I'm not worried about the quality. We are putting rock, not mulch down since maintaining mulch is a PITA. I talked to a local landscaper that said everything should be fine, the fabric will help keep water in the soil so them getting water shouldn't be an issue.


 o
RE: Landscape fabric / weed barrier

I'm not sure your landscaper is giving you very good advice. Initially yes, the fabric/mulch combo (rocks are a mulch as well) will help to retain soil moisture but that's not going to last forever......depending on your climate, the frequency of rain, how you irrigate and how well any of this water will penetrate the fabric. Eventually the soil will dry out and the plants will suffer if they are unable to receive adquate moisture.

And most agree that maintaining a rock mulch is equally as time consuming, if not more so, than an organic mulch. Debris blows in, leaves fall and it's much harder to clean up and keep looking good. It just doesn't need to be replaced as frequently. Mulches are intended to accomplish a variety of tasks - suppressing weeds and looking good (or sorta good) are only two. You are missing out on a lot of other benefits you could realize were you to approach this differently. But it's your choice :-)


 o
RE: Landscape fabric / weed barrier

Ditto on the time needed to maintain rock mulch. Not a pro, but we had a dry creekbed installed to drain an area that always flooded in order to send that water down the hill and out to the woods. Works well, but we get lots of plant debris among the rocks and some weeds despite a thick underlayer below the rocks. I am dreading clearing it all by hand. May have to borrow a neighbor's blower. Should probably buy our own since this will be an on-going issue. Glad we have organic mulch everywhere else.


 o
RE: Landscape fabric / weed barrier

I asked another landscaper in town and he said pretty much the same thing. The plants will get water from the holes in the barrier and the roots will find water once they get established. The barrier will help keep it in too, especially with the rock down.

As for the maintenance, at our old house we had 4 flower beds. 2 had mulch and the other had river rock. The mulch ones were a major pain to maintain,especially in the fall with all the leaves. The rock ones....not a bit. cyna427 ur right, thats exactaly what I did took my leaf blower to it and got out all the debris in no time flat. Try doing that to a mulch bed and ur gonna have a mulch filled yard!! LOL


 o
RE: Landscape fabric / weed barrier

I am surprised you didn't go with your local landscapers advice in the first place as he seems to have given you the answer you were looking for.


 o
RE: Landscape fabric / weed barrier

I didn't talk to a landscaper until yesterday, and the second today when I was buying my rock......


 o
RE: Landscape fabric / weed barrier disaster

You were buying your rock today, against advice you received here and then happened upon a 'landscaper' .. sorry I am lost why did you ask people here for advice again?


 o
RE: Landscape fabric / weed barrier

Oh, let it go. I think there are obviously different styles of "gardening" and what is considered a PITA vs easy. I am in the hate-rocks-around-plants group, except perhaps in specific garden styles such as alpine or minimalist or maybe some SW styles, and then it has to be a certain look in rock or gravel and only certain plant forms. I hate blowing leaves but also admit that if you have a very loose mulch, you can't rake leaves off it well. So this even brings up the concept that all organic mulches, or mulching processes, are not alike and can't be used interchangably in all gardening situations. I like "tending" the soil and recycling the organic debris from my yard into the gardens when I can, and I divide and dig plants and change my mind and make mistakes, so I need access to dirt, and I (once upon a time) had to learn how landscape fabric did not allow me to do that--it did not meet my goals for my gardens and my gardening experience. But for other people, this works for them.


 o
RE: Landscape fabric / weed barrier

Ughhhhhhh..... inkignito, here is the deal. I didn't come here and ask whether or not people like landscape fabric and wanted their opinion on it. I knew from the very start I wanted to use it. MY QUESTION was has anyone ever seen water bead up/pool on it. I wanted to know if this was normal. One person actually discussed this, everyne else talked about how much they don't like landscape fabric. I asked one landscaper, then asked another. Once they both said it will be ok, THEN I decided to buy the rock.........


 o
RE: Landscape fabric / weed barrier

I am more concerned about the watering issue than I am about mulch choices or lack thereof. I doubt these landscapers have had all that much experience with commercial grade fabric - it is far too expensive for them to use for most applications. And I know from my own experience it is much too tightly woven for water to penetrate easily and even less inclined to if used on a slope AND covered with rock, which has NO ability to absorb and retain moisture.

But the OP seems to have gotten the confirmation of his own opinions that he was looking for all along. All I can say is good luck!


 o
RE: Landscape fabric / weed barrier

Looks like you have chosen your plan and moved forward, but for others there are other options. I guees it may be easier to trust someone's opinion in person than over this media.

One great weed barrier for a slope is to cover it with shrubbery >3 feet tall. They will block out the sun for weeds. The only area needing any weeding may be near the outer edge if the shrubs get leggy.


 o
RE: Landscape fabric / weed barrier

  • Posted by catkim San Diego 10/24 (My Page) on
    Fri, Aug 28, 09 at 9:21

lucky, what's your annual rainfall? If you get enough at a time, it's conceivable the water could saturate the fabric and then pass through freely. Your water glass test doesn't factor in sustained rains. Where I live, we sometimes get as little as 5 inches a year, and that fabric would keep the dirt permanently dry, even with the allowable irrigation. (currently under water restrictions)


 o
RE: Landscape fabric / weed barrier

I'm really grateful for everyones input, but yes I have made up my mind. I am trusting the opinion of 2 people that own successful landscape businsses. It's not that I trust someone more because I talked to them in person, it's the fact that landscaping is what they do for a living so I assume they know what they're talkng about.
As for shrubs, that's outta the question. We just pulled 8 of them out to put in our flowers.
Rainfall.... Not sure about that either, I live in central IL if that helps.

**UPDATE**
We had rain lastnight and I just went out and checked under the fabric.... Nice wet soil everywhere I put my hand!!!!


 o
RE: Landscape fabric / weed barrier

lucky, what flowers have you planted?


 o
RE: Landscape fabric / weed barrier

it's the fact that landscaping is what they do for a living so I assume they know what they're talkng about.

So what about the professionals that responded here?? Are you assuming they are unable to interpret your situation and based on their years of experience, NOT offer valid opinions?

Sheesh!


 o
RE: Landscape fabric / weed barrier

It almost seems like some people on here are looking for an argument and get their feelings hurt if you take someone elses advice instead of theirs. As for "professinals" I wasn't aware that anyone on here was a professional lanscaper. I took the advice of 2 Professional landscapers bcause I know for a fact that this is what they do every day for a livng and have had a lot of experience with LSF, and not just used it once or twice and didn't like it. It's the difference between say if there is simethng wrong with your car, are you going to be more apt to listen to a real mechanic who works on cars for a living, or somene that tinkers around with them in their spare time???
Once again I do appreciate the input, but between some people not answering my question and others getting mad when I didn't listen to them this will probably be my last time visiting this forum.


 o
RE: Landscape fabric / weed barrier

  • Posted by bboy USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA (My Page) on
    Sat, Aug 29, 09 at 11:52

The specifics involved are always what determine how it is going to work out for you, not who said it and what their title or job is. It's the same as movie or restaurant reviews, you read the details presented in the review and decide for yourself whether or not it might appeal to you personally.

That someone is operating a business that is being presented as "professional landscaper" does not establish for me at all that all the methods they are currently using are automatically what I would consider to be good for me and my situation.

Or even that they are 100% reliable anywhere. There is still a lot of stuff going on in commercial horticulture that is not completely sound.


 o
RE: Landscape fabric / weed barrier

Gardengal did answer this question. There are different grades of weed barrier, the commercial grades have a closer weave than the consumer variety and are therefore less permeable. You could google 'de Witts rock cloth' to see how this compares with what you have.


Now a simple bit of science: the more permeable the geo-textile is the more water will pass through and more easily evaporate afterwords. A less permeable material will let less water through more slowly but retain more of it. If the material is completely impermeable and you cover the ground with it one evening when you lift it in the morning it will be wet underneath but this is condensation.


If you cover a close weave geo-textile with rocks similar in size to drainage rocks and to a reasonable depth the rocks will hold the water until it slowly seeps through.


 o
RE: Landscape fabric / weed barrier

Yeah, it's been months, but I thought I add my experience.

I am using 15 year landscape fabric that was installed 2 years ago. I too noticed that the water beaded up on it and mostly rolled off, depending on the slope. I figured that I had a lot of work to do and no one complained too badly about the stuff so continued with the installation. Over the fabric I put a few inches of rock, which is lots of work but I have hardly needed to revisit the beds at all. My perennial plants are all receiving sufficient water (they're growing and alive), there are no lakes forming, and everything is as expected. I admit that I was concerned initially about all the work that it took to prepare and complete the beds and that they might not receive any water... Though, not to worry friend, it'll be fine. Lay the stuff down, cut the X where the plant will poke through, and enjoy the minimal effort to maintain your beds. In the fall I do walk through with a vacuum/blower to remove as much organic material as I can. Takes only minutes and I'm sure it'll help keep the beds looking pristine. Enjoy!


 o
RE: Landscape fabric / weed barrier

I forgot to post a follow up!! Well I guess it was just an initial thing because water did eventually soak through, and our flowers all lived through the fall, and have since came up this spring. I guess maybe it's just something thats in the fabric that makes it bead up but once it gets wet a few times the water is allowed to soak through. Thanks for all the help everyone!!!


 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!


Return to the Landscape Design Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.


Learn more about in-text links on this page here