Landscaping is equal parts art, science and therapy. A perfectly landscaped home does not happen overnight; it is a product of possessing the know-how, having the right resources, and also a bit of a green thumb. Part of the technical know-how is knowing what a geotextile landscape fabric is and how to use it.
What Is Geotextile Landscape Fabric?
Originally called “filter fabric”, geotextile landscape fabric is a permeable fabric usually made of polypropylene or polyester. Commonly referred to as just “geotextile”, it has many tiny openings that allow liquid or gas elements to pass through. According to Sonoran LanDesign, a company of Phoenix, AZ landscaping contractors, it serves a variety of important functions in landscaping such as weed abatement, filtration, drainage, reinforcement and protection.
Functions of Geotextile Landscape Fabric
The main principle behind geotextile landscape fabric is to keep unwanted elements, such as weeds, out while keeping the beneficial elements, such as water and other nutrients, in. Irrigation & Green Industry, an online business magazine dedicated to landscape, irrigation and maintenance contractors, lists the five primary functions of geotextile landscape fabric:
- Weed abatement: A huge gripe of both landscape hobbyists and professionals is the invasion of weeds, which not only make for unpleasant visuals, but could also rob plants and flowers of nutrients, causing damage and even death. In the past, landscapists and gardeners would use big garbage bags to keep the weeds out, but didn’t really do much good as they also kept water and nutrients out. In comparison, geotextile landscape fabric protects plants from weeds while allowing the vital elements to seep through.
- Filtration: Geotextile landscape fabric is commended for its filtration characteristics by allowing the passage of water through layers of soil while hindering the movement of aggregates and unwanted sediments. Some particles are trapped immediately on the fabric surface while some get filtered right through the layers between the fabric. This characteristic allows sediments to get filtered out without affecting the fabric’s permeability, thus still allowing proper water filtration over time.
- Drainage: Geotextile landscape fabric is designed to gather and release excess water as necessary. This measure ensures that just the right amount of water is retained and distributed.
- Reinforcement: The reinforcement function of the geotextile landscape fabric is remarkably useful not only in landscaping but also in other major infrastructure projects. It reinforces soil stability so as to make it resistant to friction and movement, to allow it to withstand heavy weight, and to be able to adapt to changes.
- Protection: Geotextile landscape fabric protects plants and soil from extreme weather, especially in summer when extreme heat can dry up nutrients, and in winter when the harsh cold can freeze plants and roots.
Cons of Geotextile Landscape Fabric
Although geotextile landscape fabric gets a lot of raves in the landscaping industry, Bob Vila, an online resource for home improvement, notes some downsides:
- The fabric successfully keeps the weeds out, but unfortunately it also blocks soil-enhancing earthworms. Earthworms are a huge help to maintaining a healthy and balanced underground environment.
- With the geotextile landscape fabric functioning as a barrier, natural organic mulch such as fallen leaves and fruits cannot be utilized to deliver nutrients to the soil as it naturally biodegrades. This could mean either a waste of natural mulch or routinely monitoring it and moving it to other locations where it could be of good use.
- The fabric can prevent weeds from sprouting from underground, but some types of geotextile landscape fabric cannot prevent new seeds from above ground from planting their roots on the fabric surface.
Maximizing the Use of Geotextile Landscape Fabric
If you have already decided to use geotextile landscape fabric, here are some valuable tips to help you maximize its lifespan and potential:
- Choose your geotextile landscape fabric wisely. It’s important to choose the type of fabric that is suitable to your landscaping needs. While it may seem prudent to go the cheaper route, a flimsy geotextile landscape fabric could rip easily, thereby resulting in inefficiency or waste.
- Add in healthful components such as manure and other organic mulch to your soil before installing the fabric. The addition of organic matter aids in creating a good ecological environment underground.
- Adequately secure your fabric with pins. Geotextile landscape fabric, when not effectively secured, could move around over time, which may require a re-installation.
- When clueless, don’t hesitate to ask for professional help. Landscape professionals obtained their professional status after much studying, trying and testing. While there are plenty of available resources on landscaping, nothing beats qualified and professional experience. If you have doubts about what you’re doing, it is always smart to seek help from experts rather than pay the price of regret later.