Landscape fabric and soil health

This year I’m trying something new, and using landscape fabric extensively. So far, it’s saving me a lot of work, once set up. I put down chicken manure and then put it around all my trees and vines and bushes, with just a slit to add water. We’re just starting the season, and it’s already saving me work on weeding and watering. The garlic I planted in the fall would’ve been impossible without it. I simply can’t keep up on the weeds here.
Something I started doingFor vegetables seems to be working very well. I place the fabric over a section of overgrown grass, it dies out in time, I lift the fabric and the soil is very easy to turn over and mix in fertilizer . Replace the fabric and cut slits for your seedlings. I can’t really add fertilizer very easily once the growing season starts , But that’s a small price to pay.
One question: with the dead weeds the soil was so loose I could actually dig seedling holes with a hand trowel before tilling the soil at all . I’m wondering if I could avoid turning over all the soil, and just sprinkle chicken manure on the top and then cover it over again with the weed fabric. Or would it have trouble absorbing into the soil this way? Is it necessary to aerate the soil by turning it over a foot down like I did my hand? I’ve heard of so-called “no till gardens“ where they claim it’s actually bad for the soil to till it. Mind you, I didn’t use a rotor tiller, I just turned it over the shovel and a rake. Not sure if there’s any consensus on these issues.
I related thing I will try is using non-breathable plastic just to kill the weeds and provide some room to grow watermelons in certain areas.

In my experience voles go and live under and dig under fabric and plastic really quick here. Make sure you check under it frequently.

It would be easier, if you used permeable fabric.

I lifted up some temporary plastic recently and discovered I had attracted slugs that ate the plants I was trying to protect

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I’m using a lot of woven ground cover (heavy duty landscape fabric) this year also. I used it in the past and it works great as long as you don’t try to hide it under mulch. With the mulch weed and tree seeds can take hold and root through the ground cover and they are a pain to pull out.


Thanks. Already had a serious infestation of malls before any ground cover. After a year of trying I finally caught one a while ago.
I Remember watching videos on no till gardening with plastic covers, but there wasn’t any consensus and it was quite complicated the variety of things people were doing.
Obviously I can’t till around fruit trees anyway. Only in my vegetable garden section. I’ve heard people had trouble with roots unaturally growing close to the surface. Others had issue with adding supplements later in the season, or not enough water evenly distributing during rainfall.

There’s a heavy duty landscape fabric from CostCo and it is inexpensive compared to Home Depot.

I have a different reason for using the fabric. I use it to prevent the mulch or decorative stones or gravel from sinking into the soil. The weeds or seedling that grow on the mulch on top of the fabric are very easy to pull out if you pull them out early. I can rake them off easily too. The fabric and mulch help control weeds and also help conserve moisture.

I use water soluble fertilizer that is pumped through my drip lines so adding fertilizer has never been a problem. I improve my soil properties by also adding soluble humic and fulvic acids on the drip lines.

If you catch them early the weeds will come up easily but if you miss any and they break through the fabric you’ll see what I mean. The landscape frabrc is not as attractive as mulch or stone but it stops the weeds and I can lift it up and spread compost and minerals around my plants then sit it back down. It works great for me.

Joe real, that sounds like a nice no care high tech system you got there.
If landscape fabric is such a miracle answer, why is it not used more extensively in vegetable and fruit gardens ? Is it just the expense and initial hassle ?
By the way, I also used it underneath modified crushed gravel around the house to provide drained walking areas. The gravel doesn’t sink into the mud as quickly. It works well and the weeds are pretty easy to pull out of that as they can’t get a good foothold.

Current no till gardening recommends a thick layer of arborist wood chips as a mulch and discourages landscape fabric. I’m not a fan of landscape fabric as it quickly becomes hydrophobic and you’ll see the water beading off it and running to the side. That being said, I do use it for my pepper plants which appreciate the warmer soil created by the exposed black fabric. In order to warm up the soil here in the north east I lay the landscape fabric on the surface and cut slits to plant out the seedlings. This year I’m going to try just woodchips and see if there is an appreciable difference in the plants vigor and fruit production. I’m still tilling my veggie garden, but moving toward a no till approach.

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Ya, I had the same problem about water runoff. In some cases I found this to be a benefit. By forming the underlying soil into a trough for bowl I could direct water to the planting.
The heat seems to have benefited my garlic over the winter, but I’m concerned from now until harvest if they’re going to cook under that black sheet.

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i agee. i dump 3in. of chips on every spring and fall. you dig down 6in . and its a nice black soil , full of worms! stopped using fabric awhile back . i use black plastic to kill any weeds and establish a bed , then pull it off and mulch . works good. my father leaves the plastic on for plants like cukes but he preps his soil so he doesn’t have to fertilize and he controls the water they get. keeps the weeds out and the cukes clean. could do that initially for trees and bushes until they’re established then remove and mulch just make sure you water well under the plastic.

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