We often receive the question “Should I put fabric under my mulch?”
Our answer – No.
We do not recommend putting landscape fabric underneath your mulch for the simple reason that it usually causes more problems than any benefit it provides. For one, the fabric blocks the transfer of beneficial microorganisms from passing through that layer of soil. Also, earthworms which are helpful in aerating the soil and keeping it from becoming compact and unhealthy need to be able to reach the surface to survive. Secondly, if you ever want to re-plant plants in the future, you’ll have to dig through the fabric and cut it out, causing unnecessary labor and frustration for future planting projects. Thirdly, it prevents the mulch from decomposing and integrating itself into the soil like it’s designed to do consequently depriving the ground underneath of composted soil and nutrients. Lastly, and perhaps most significantly, weeds will start to germinate and grow in the mulch layer as quickly as within a few months following installation, so after only a season or two the weeds will be back in your mulch growing above the fabric coming back as quickly as they came. For these reasons, we advise against this as san ineffective method of preventing the problem you’re trying to avoid.
HOWEVER, we do lay commercial-grade weed fabric underneath our river gravel products for projects like the one you see our team member, Valeska, working on here. In this type of application we do suggest the use of fabric specifically designed to prevent future weeds from invading your yard. Weeds are much less likely to germinate in the rocks and the preferiferral fabric stunts any weeds from growing and penetrating through. Just make sure that you leave plenty of space around your plants so that they can grow properly and promote the sustainability of earthworms and other beneficial organisms. Also, it’s a good idea to add some compost soil or garden soil to your beds before covering with fabric.Therefore, laying river gravel overtop a protective layer of fabric is an excellent and low maintenance solution to weed-prevention that enhances the natural beauty of your landscape environment!