Applying Landscape Fabric Around Shrubs

Landscape fabric applied around shrubs provides a natural weed barrier that will last for years. This synthetic material is easy to install and can make backbreaking and difficult weeding in cramped spaces a thing of the past. Here's how to apply the fabric around shrubs.

Step 1: Measure

Measure the area where the landscaping fabric will be applied. The material is sold in rolls of varying widths and lengths, but the most common are:

  • 3x50-foot rolls
  • 3x100-foot rolls
  • 4x100-foot rolls
  • 3x250-foot rolls
  • 4x250-foot rolls
  • 6x250-foot rolls

Costs range from around $10 for the smallest size to about $76 for the largest rolls of landscaping fabric.

Step 2: Ensure Right Type and Size Mesh

Make sure that the landscape fabric is the right size mesh to meet the requirements around your shrubs. The mesh should be as small as possible to prevent weeds/lawn/rhizomes from growing through, but it must be large enough to permit necessary air and water to get through to nourish the shrubs.

Appropriate landscape fabric also permits fertilizer to make its way through to the shrubs. It is also permanent—as long as it is covered from sunlight—and it works to control unwanted soil erosion from rain and sprinklers.

The best type of landscaping fabric for around shrubs is thermally spunbonded. This is proven to be the most effective at controlling weeds, rather than the more loosely needle-punched or woven landscape fabrics.

Do not use plastic sheeting for the purpose of controlling weeds. While it will prevent weeds from growing, it will also make it impossible for air and water to permeate into the shrub.

Step #: Prepare Soil

Remove any weeds, grass or unwanted plants around the area of the shrubs. Then rake away any small rocks and pebbles that, if not removed, could eventually penetrate the landscape fabric and defeat the purpose by allowing weeds to grow through.

Step 4: Cut Notch to Accommodate Shrub

Lay out the landscape fabric in a straight line. When the fabric reaches the area of the shrub, cut out a notch large enough to accommodate the shrub’s base. Adjust the notch size so that the landscape fabric encompasses the base of the shrub.

Continue laying out the fabric, repeating the notching process with each shrub in the area.

Step 5: Secure Landscape Fabric

Once all the fabric has been laid, secure the material with the appropriate landscape pins, pegs or staples. Make sure to use sufficient number of fasteners at no less than 5 feet apart, and closer around shrubs.

Step 6: Cover Fabric With Protective Material

Since landscape fabric can not be left exposed, the last step is to cover it with some type of protective material. The best choices are tree bark, mulch or stones.

When spreading the mulch/bark/stones over the area, use caution to ensure the tines of the rake don’t penetrate the landscape fabric.