12 Alternatives to Landscape Fabric for a More Sustainable Garden

When it comes to creating a sustainable garden, there are many different factors to consider. One of the most important is choosing the right materials.

Landscape fabric is a popular choice for gardeners, but there are many alternatives that are just as effective and much more sustainable. In this blog post, we will discuss five alternative materials that you can use in your garden!

What is Landscape Fabric?

Landscape fabric is a type of product made from non-degradable plastics which are designed to be used in landscaping, lawn care & gardening applications.

Landscape fabrics can be used as weed barriers and erosion control mats for slope stabilization projects such as hillsides or embankments where soil retention may be necessary due to lack of vegetation growth.

Landscape fabrics are also commonly used under mulch to prevent weeds from growing through the material. Landscape fabric is usually made out of polyethylene plastic which can last up to 100 years in soil before breaking down completely!

Pros of using landscape fabrics

There are many pros to using landscape fabrics in your garden. They are effective at preventing weeds from growing, they can help stabilize slopes, and they last a long time.

Landscape fabrics are an easy way to keep your garden looking neat and tidy without having to worry about pesky weeds sprouting up everywhere!

However, landscape fabric also has many cons associated with it. Landscape fabrics can be expensive and they don’t break down in the soil, which means that they are not environmentally friendly!

Landscape fabrics also do not allow water or nutrients to reach plants’ roots because of their impermeable nature so your plants will need more watering than usual if you want them to survive in this type of garden.

Landscape fabric can also make it difficult for new plants to grow since they cannot break through the barrier as easily, making gardening more challenging if you want a diverse ecosystem.

Cons of using landscape fabrics

There are also several cons to using landscape fabrics in your garden. They can be expensive, they don’t break down in the soil, and they can prevent water and nutrients from reaching plants’ roots.

Landscape fabric can also make it difficult for new plants to grow, making gardening more challenging if you want a diverse ecosystem. Additionally, since landscape fabrics are not biodegradable, they will be around for generations to come.

Landscape fabrics also make removing weeds more difficult because they can’t just be pulled up by hand like traditional mulching methods would allow!

Related: 19 Mulch Alternatives for a Beautiful and Sustainable Garden

What are Landscape Fabric Alternatives?

There are many Landscape Fabric alternatives that will do just as good of a job or better than Landscape Fabric at keeping weeds from growing. Some of these alternatives are Organic Mulches, Rocks, and Soil.

1. Bark mulch

Bark mulch is a Landscape Fabric alternative that will keep weeds from growing. Bark mulch can also help retain moisture in soil by blocking sunlight which would otherwise evaporate water faster than it could be absorbed into the ground. 

Landscape fabric has been used for years to control weeds and prevent them from growing, but many people are now using alternatives like bark mulch instead because it’s easier on the environment.

Bark mulch is a great Landscape Fabric alternative that comes from grinding up logs into small pieces. It is available in different colors, including black, and helps retain moisture in the soil while inhibiting weed growth.

Pros of using bark mulch:

– Bark mulch is a natural product that comes from trees.

– It helps the soil retain moisture, and it decomposes over time to improve the quality of the soil.

– bark mulch also provides some protection against weeds.

Cons of using bark mulch:

– It can be expensive, especially if you have a large garden.

– It can also be a fire hazard if it’s not used properly.

2. Burlap

Burlap is a good alternative to landscape fabric, especially if you’re looking for something that’s affordable and easy to work with. It also has some weed control properties, but it’s not as effective as bark mulch.

Pros of using Burlap:

– Inexpensive

– Can be easily obtained

– Biodegradable

– Does not require any special tools or equipment to install

Cons of using Burlap:

– Needs to be replaced more often than some other alternatives

– Can be difficult to work with, especially if the soil is wet

3. Cardboard

Source

One alternative to using landscape fabric is cardboard. Cardboard is a biodegradable material that can be used as a weed blocker and mulch. It is also effective in suppressing soil erosion.

To use cardboard as a weed blocker, first wet the area where you will be placing the cardboard. Then, place the cardboard on top of the soil and cover it with mulch. Be sure to overlap the cardboard pieces so that no weeds can grow through. You can also use cardboard as a mulch by cutting it into small pieces and placing it around plants.

Pros of using Cardboard:

– Inexpensive

– Recyclable

Cons of using Cardboard:

– Needs to be replaced more often than some other alternatives

– Can be difficult to work with, especially if the soil is wet

4. Compost

Compost is a great alternative to landscape fabric. Landscape fabrics are designed to help reduce the amount of weeds in your garden, but compost does that and more!

Compost contains microorganisms that not only suppress weed growth, but also improve plant health by improving soil structure and providing nutrients for plants.

Landscape fabrics limit drainage since they don’t allow water to pass through and can also cause root rot in plants. Compost allows for drainage while adding organic matter to the soil, which improves soil structure, drainage and water retention.

Landscape fabrics are a once-and-done type of product that has to be replaced every few years, but compost is a living material that continually breaks down and adds nutrients to the soil.

Landscape fabrics are made from non-renewable materials like fossil fuels, but compost is a renewable resource that can be created at home with your food scraps!

5. Ground cover plants

One alternative to using landscape fabric is to use ground cover plants. Ground cover plants are low-growing plants that spread out over the ground and form a dense layer of vegetation.

This can be an effective way to prevent weeds from growing, and many types of ground cover plants also provide erosion control. Some good choices for ground cover plants include:

creeping fig

ivy

– Boston fern

– lady fern

– vinca vine

Ground cover plants are a great alternative to landscape fabrics. Landscape fabrics work by preventing weed seeds from germinating, but ground cover plants do that and more!

Ground cover plants also help to prevent soil erosion, keep the soil cool in the summer and warm in the winter, and improve water infiltration. Landscape fabrics can cause problems like root rot, but ground cover plants actually help to protect plant roots from disease.

Landscape fabrics need to be replaced every few years, but most ground cover plants will last for many years with proper care. Landscape fabrics are made from non-renewable materials like fossil fuels, but ground cover plants are a renewable resource that can be grown in your garden!

If you’re looking for a more sustainable option, try using ground cover plants instead of landscape fabric. They provide the same benefits, but are better for the environment.

6. Herbicides

Herbicides are a great alternative to using landscape fabric in your garden. They can be used to control weeds and keep them from growing back.

There are many different herbicide options available, so you can find the one that fits your needs. Herbicides work well for large areas, and they can help reduce the amount of time you spend weeding your garden.

Landscape fabric is a good option if you don’t want to use chemicals in your yard, but it may not always be practical because of cost and availability.

Herbicides are an effective way to kill unwanted plants in your garden.

Herbicides kill all plants including harmful ones like poison ivy while leaving desirable plants unharmed. Landscape fabrics limit drainage since they don’t allow water to pass through and can also cause root rot in plants, but herbicides have no effect on soil drainage or plant health.

Landscape fabrics are a once-and-done type of product that has to be replaced every few years, but herbicides can be reapplied as needed. Landscape fabrics are made from non-renewable materials like fossil fuels, but herbicides are a renewable resource that can be made at home with common ingredients!

7. Landscaping timbers

Landscaping timbers are a great alternative to landscape fabric. They are made of natural materials, such as wood or bamboo, so they decompose over time and don’t release harmful chemicals into the soil.

Landscaping timbers also help to retain moisture in the soil, which can be beneficial for plants that need consistent watering. Finally, landscaping timbers can be used to create borders or dividers in a garden, which can add visual interest.

Landscaping timbers can help prevent soil erosion while also creating a barrier for plants in your garden. Landscape fabrics limit drainage since they don’t allow water to pass through and can also cause root rot in plants, but landscaping timbers have no effect on soil drainage or plant health.

Landscape fabrics are a once-and-done type of product that has to be replaced every few years, but landscaping timbers can last for many years with proper care. Landscape fabrics are made from non-renewable materials like fossil fuels, but landscaping timbers are a renewable resource that can be made from recycled materials!

8. Newspaper

Newspaper is a great way to suppress weeds and help retain moisture in the soil. It’s also biodegradable, so it won’t end up in a landfill for hundreds of years like landscape fabric can.

To use newspaper as mulch, simply cover the desired area with several layers, wetting each layer as you cover it.

Landscape fabric is meant to be a permanent solution, but newspaper will decompose within six months or so, which means that you’ll need to replace it every year.

Landscape fabrics limit drainage since they don’t allow water to pass through and can also cause root rot in plants, but newspaper is porous which allows for proper drainage while also helping to insulate the soil.

Landscape fabrics are made from non-renewable materials like fossil fuels, but newspaper is a renewable resource that can be recycled after use!

9. Pine Needles

Landscape fabric is often used in gardens to suppress weeds and direct water flow, but there are alternatives that can be more sustainable. One option is pine needles.

A layer of pine needles about four inches deep will do a good job of suppressing weeds and holding moisture in the soil. In addition, as the needles decompose, they add organic matter to the soil.

Landscape fabric can be used under pine needles if you want a longer-lasting mulch, but it is often not necessary.

Pine needles are generally inexpensive and easy to obtain from local tree trimming services or other DIYers who regularly prune their trees.

Pine straw needs to be replenished every year or two, which can add to the expense. Landscape fabric lasts much longer, but it is usually a more expensive initial investment.

In many cases pine needles are better for water retention than landscape fabric. Landscape fabric allows some moisture to pass through it, but not as much as soil would without the barrier. This can be a problem in areas with high water tables or during periods of heavy rainfall. Pine needles, on the other hand, will help to keep the soil moist by slowing down the evaporation of water.

Pine needles also have the added benefit of being a natural weed barrier. Weeds that do manage to grow through the needles will be easy to pull out because the needles make the soil surface soft. Landscape fabric does not allow any sunlight through, so weed growth is much more likely to become a problem.

So, if you are looking for an environmentally friendly alternative to landscape fabric, pine needles may be a good option for you. They suppress weeds, retain moisture, and improve the soil as they decompose.

Landscape fabric may be more convenient for some people, but if you are looking for a more sustainable alternative to plastic in your garden consider adding pine needles instead of landscape fabric.

10. Plastic sheets

Plastic sheets can be a great alternative to landscape fabrics. Landscape fabrics work by preventing weed seeds from germinating, but plastic sheets do that and more!

Landscape fabrics limit drainage since they don’t allow water to pass through and can also cause root rot in plants, but plastic sheets have no effect on soil drainage or plant health.

Landscape fabrics are a once-and-done type of product that has to be replaced every few years, but plastic sheets can last for many years before they break down and become compost!

Landscape fabrics are made from non-renewable materials like fossil fuels, but plastic sheets are a renewable resource that can be recycled after use!

11. Shredded leaves

I like to use shredded leaves as a way of suppressing weeds in my garden. I just mow the lawn on a dry day and spread the clippings over any area that needs protection from weeds. Not only does this save me money, it is also good for the environment because you are recycling waste materials back into the garden.

The only downside is that it can be a bit messy to work with, and it does take a while for the leaves to break down and provide weed control. But overall I think it’s a great alternative to landscape fabric.

Landscape fabrics are a once-and-done type of product that has to be replaced every few years, but shredded leaves can last for many years before they break down and become compost!

Landscape fabrics are made from non-renewable materials like fossil fuels, but shredded leaves are a renewable resource that can be found in your backyard!

12. Wood chips

Most gardeners, landscape architects and professional landscapers will tell you that wood chips are the best material to use under plants, trees and shrubbery. Landscape fabric doesn’t allow any air, water or nutrients through which can cause a rotting of the roots.

Wood chips however decompose in time and add nutrients back into the soil. They are also a great way to control erosion on hillsides and banks.

A word of caution: don’t use fresh wood chips as they can mat down and become an impenetrable layer. Let them decompose for at least six months before using them in your garden.

FAQs about Landscape fabric alternatives

Can I use plastic instead of landscape fabric?

There are a number of reasons why you might choose to use plastic instead of landscape fabric. Perhaps you don’t have easy access to wood chips or perhaps you want to avoid using organic materials that will decompose and add nutrients back into the soil.

Plastic is also great for controlling erosion on hillsides and banks. It can be difficult to get the plastic secured and in place though so it won’t rip or tear. Landscape fabric alternatives like plastic are not recommended for use under plants, trees and shrubbery as they do not rot or decompose over time.

Can I use gravel instead of landscape fabric?

Gravel is a great alternative to landscape fabric. Landscape fabric alternatives like gravel have the added benefit of looking more attractive than landscape fabric plus it can be used for other purposes in your garden such as a pathway or patio.

It’s important to make sure you use weed control cloth under the gravel so that weeds don’t grow through and ruin everything though. Landscape fabric alternatives like gravel are a great way to keep your garden looking neat and tidy.

Can worms get through landscape fabric?

While landscape fabric is effective at keeping weeds from growing, it can also be a challenge for worms to penetrate. If you’re looking for an alternative that will still allow worms to do their job of cycling nutrients in the soil, try using organic mulch instead. Freshly chopped leaves or grass clippings are great options, and they’ll also add some much needed nitrogen to the soil as they decompose.

Is landscape fabric necessary under rock?

While landscape fabric is not necessarily required under rock, it can be a good idea in certain circumstances. Landscape fabric will help keep weeds from growing, which means you won’t have to weed as often or pull out any that do pop up through your mulch. Landscape fabric also retains moisture better than bare soil does so plants underneath the rocks will be less likely to dry out.

Do you put soil on top of landscape fabric?

Some gardeners choose to put a thin layer of soil over landscape fabric to help it blend in with the surrounding area, but this is not necessary. Landscape fabric will last for years without any additional soil covering it.

Can you plant through landscape fabric?

Yes, you can plant through landscape fabric although it might be a little more difficult than planting through bare soil. Landscape fabric will not prevent seeds from germinating, and it won’t hinder the growth of plants that have already sprouted.

Landscapers often place small holes in the fabric where they want to plant new shrubs or flowers so their roots can easily grow down into the soil without having any issues with drainage or aeration. Landscapers will also often use landscape staples to secure the fabric around plants if necessary.

Can you put mulch over landscape fabric?

Yes, you can lay mulch or other organic materials on top of landscape fabric without any issues. Landscape fabric is designed specifically for this purpose, so it should not deteriorate when it’s covered with mulch.

Landscape fabric can help keep weeds from growing through your mulch and provide a barrier between the soil and any organic materials or landscaping rocks that might be on top of it, which helps prevent erosion problems in areas prone to heavy rains.

What is black landscape fabric made of?

Black Landscape Fabric is made from polypropylene and can be woven in different weights depending on how thick or thin you want it.

Landscape fabric helps prevent weeds from growing by keeping them out of direct contact with soil; this means that if any seeds do sprout through there will only be one small root system instead of an entire plant’s worth of roots competing with your other plants for nutrients.

Landscape fabric also helps retain moisture in soil by blocking sunlight which would otherwise evaporate water faster than it could be absorbed into the ground.

Conclusion

While landscape fabric may be a popular option for weed control, there are several alternatives that can provide the same results.

By using one of these methods, you can avoid the potential environmental and health risks associated with using landscape fabric. Have you tried any of these methods to control weeds in your garden?