How not to use landscape fabric


IMG_2860 And to be clear, this is a FRONT YARD and this planting technique continues across the entire property.  (House not shown, to protect the guilty.)

But wait, maybe this isn't landscape fabric after all, but sheets of black plastic – how creative! 

Addendum:  This is how it's looked for months now.  No lie.


  1. Perhaps, perhaps?, they have a masterplan that we’re not seeing. A month from now, it will be a weedless vision to behold, and they’ll be laughing up their landscape cloth sleeve?

    Or perhaps not.

  2. wow! Maybe the owner is emulating Christo? And what are those lonely little plants? Looks like a motley collection.
    I want to see the rest of the black yard! You can photoshop out the identifying features, Susan–

  3. This looks like a project in process. They probably are adding plants daily. Some of my projects would not stand scrutiny during construction either. (And sometimes not afterwards either. 🙂 )

  4. I hope that they are trying to kill the grass/weeds with the black fabric and will pull it up in a matter of days.

    I did a job a couple weeks ago where someone had put landscape fabric around everything in a border. Trees, hostas, hydrangeas, viburnum, etc. I don’t know how many years it had been down, but it was girdling the trees, the hostas were growing on top of it, and weeds were everywhere in the inch of soil on top of the fabric.

    Landscape fabric doesn’t work! It’s more pain than it’s worth!It will strangle your plants as they grow and weeds will grow on it once the mulch breaks down. We used it years ago in our yard, and we’re still dealing with the consequences. Put down newspaper or cardboard and then cover with mulch. Believe me, it works so much better and costs much less!

  5. I hear you on the landscape fabric. I was going to divide some daylilies at a high end home. They were growing on top of the fabric. It was cheaper to cut a big hole dig out (they are in my yard now!) and replace with new ones.

    Put I had a potential client who dumped all sorts of nasty chemical to kill her grass. She wanted to spread brown tarps on top and place benches & pots all around. I passed on the job. She also wanted to kill all the grass in the back yard and bark mulch the entire thing-no plantings and only accessible with a wheelbarrow!

  6. I am intrigued by the little pile of dirt and leaves on the concrete driveway. Were they sweeping the black plastic to keep it looking fresh and new and not have common dirt and leaves mix in with the dyed black mulch around the plants?

  7. Looks like a minimalist art/performance art installation by an artist intent on frying plants slowly over time. I bet if you look close you’ll find cameras on the plants for the future video installation of plants, shown in reverse, rising from death to full life in plant hell. With a Koyaanisqatsi-esque Philip Glass theme.

  8. Maybe you could have a Project Runway like fashion contest that everyone has too make an outfit out of landscaepe fabric and have the best ones photoshoped into this landscape for fun. Problem is we all know who will be the winner…. Jim Martin!

  9. Wouldn’t it be great if we all could afford to do our projects in one big swoop regardless if we were smart enough to know the advantages and disadvantages of weed block fabric ?
    Have you heard the news lately, we’re sort of in a economic downturn.

  10. I’m so sorry to read that that yard has been like that for months. I’d have a hard time living with it that way.

    tropaeolum dislikes landscape fabric aka weedcloth, and has had bad experiences with it. In my Santa Cruz home, after the crushed white rock was removed, healthy dirt was found. The roses were planted, the drip system laid out THEN the weed cloth and the gorilla hair mulch on top. After a couple of years, weed and other seeds would land on top of the mulch and be easily removed. The roses were quite healthy: they had their own little depressions and just-enough drip water.

    I haven’t managed to get it installed here yet, but I may have to hire someone not my current gardener, as he seems highly resistant to my scheme. I miss my old gardener, but he won’t come the extra distance to work for me on the other side of the “hill”.

  11. It will look better once the plants grow a bit and more are added. Perhaps they intend to put mulch on top of the plastic. Black plastic is usually cheaper than landscape fabric, may last longer and in this economy who isn’t pinching pennies. Well, they tried and it’s step in the right direction.

  12. Sheets of plastic – huh ? Are they trying to cook the roots ?? At least topped with mulch, there’s a chance of insulating the roots against the summer sun. Here’s hoping it’s just a plan that got stalled by the poor economy.

    Perhaps I should send you a photo of this “yard” in my neighborhood – the homeowner has completely covered the soil in concrete. Front yard & back, fence to fence. Not only that, but it’s in bands of pink alternating with tan-ish yellow. Egad.

  13. Huh. Too bad the neighbors who have complained about various people growing vegetables (horrors!) in their front yards elsewhere in North America can’t see this. Would they prefer something like this to look at? Perhaps they would take a new view of a few modest wooden raised beds. Or how about the bozo who complained about the guy in Lanzville, BC, who transformed his 2.5 acre gravel pit into an organic farm? Acres of landscape fabric, anyone?

  14. Perhaps they are trying to solarize to rid themselves of lawn without chemicals.

    At least up here in the north it takes an entire growing season.

  15. I hope this isn’t an example of how Google street view is going to be used by people: creating a virtual homeowner’s association, where someone’s yard can be scrutinized and critiqued out of context, and unbeknownst to the homeowner?

  16. Ailsa – not actual hair from actual gorillas, though thinking about how that would collected brings forth both amusing & horrifying scenarios. It’s a brown, fibrous, shredded cedar mulch. Looks like gorilla hair, but it’s wood.

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