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Removing Old Landscape Fabric from Garden Soil: Easy Steps

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Landscape fabric is an effective way to stop unwanted and invasive weed growth. However, if not replaced or removed on time, landscape fabrics can cause some problems. 

Removing old landscape fabric can be done by firstly removing all mulch substrates from on top the fabric, this will include weeds, dead plants and soil. The area should then be sectioned out with a scissors or knife. Old fabric can then be pulled out from the soil and from around plants, shaken off and discarded.

The old fabric can be replaced with new high-quality fabric and mulch. The new fabric should be secured properly so that there are no kinks and bulges.

Further in this article, we will explain in detail how to properly remove landscape fabric from garden soil with extra steps and give cost-effective solutions when doing so.

I use this landscaping fabric in my garden. It is both affordable and durable, and, boy, does it prevent those pesky weeds from growing.

ECOgardener Premium landscape fabric

How To Remove The Old Fabric From The Soil?

Removing old landscape fabric

Removing old landscape fabric is not an easy task. The rock or mulch must move to get to the fabric under it. It is easier to do this in sections. 

Older garden fabrics are often overrunned by weeds and soil and this causes it to be buried to some degree, into the soil. 

If the fabric is still visible above ground then removal could just be cutting the fabric into sections (make sure not to damage the plants, if any) then start pulling away from the soil.

Removing old mulch can be done by:

Note: Plants can be left in place, but it will be much harder to remove fabric from around the plant without damaging their roots.

  1. If there is mulch on top of the fabric, remove it and place it in a clean space for reuse.
  2. Mark out sections of the garden plot
  3. Using a shovel or a garden hoe, start removing the top layer of soil until the fabric is exposed
  4. Remove as much soil as possible from the entire section
  5. Once the fabric is revealed, start cutting it into sections with a scissors or knife (quarters will be ok)
  6. Start removing the old fabric and any entangled root with it.

Note: For complete removalTill into the soil 2 – 3 inches where the fabric was. This unearths any broken down fabric. Remove tilled soil and replace with new soil.

A quick shake off would remove any heavy soil from the old fabric which would make it easy for disposal.

See our related posts on Gardening soil:
How to prevent mulch from washing away
The benefits of mixing mulch into soil
Glass in Garden Soil

Why Should The Old Fabric Be Removed From Garden Soil?

Landscaping fabrics, mainly used in greenhouses, nurseries, and gardens, are used to prevent the development of weeds. 

Moreover, these fabrics also aid plants in preventing excessive soil moisture, saving irrigation water, reducing maintenance demands, and extending growing seasons.

Its applications are multiple, but within agricultural parameters, it can be used for different types of cultivation: both closed (greenhouses) and outdoors (nurseries and orchards).

However, landscape fabrics are not a once in lifetime investment. After a certain time, you must replace the old landscape fabric with a new one. Why?

There are several reasons to ditch old landscape fabric or even avoid using it altogether. 

Rot over time

Over time, the fabric of the garden can deteriorate, leaving holes through which weeds can grow. 

Ripped bits and wrinkles of weathered landscape fabric can make even a freshly mulched bed look shabby.

In addition to decay from mulch, plant debris and other materials blowing into garden beds can form a layer of compost on top of the weed block fabric. 


Weeds can take root in this layer of compost, and as they grow, these roots can penetrate through the fabric to reach the soil.

Some garden fabric can even easily be torn when it is first installed. As you can imagine, torn fabric won’t be very effective against strong weeds that dig into the ground and then into the fabric. 

Thick “landscape contractor weed block weave” is much more effective in preventing weeds from breaking through. 

However, this high-quality garden fabric is expensive and sediment still develops after a while.

Plastic Algae Block

If you have a plastic garden algae block, you should remove it as soon as possible. While the plastic garden fabric kills the weeds below, it also kills the soil and any other beneficial insects or worms by literally suffocating them. 

The soil needs oxygen to properly absorb and drain water. What little water can do under the plastic grass block will usually build up from the lack of air pockets in the compacted soil below. 

The Pros and Cons of Landscape Fabric

Pros of using landscape fabricCons of using landscape fabric
Saves you money from garden maintenanceSome weeds can still sprout through mulch used to cover the fabric
Saves time cleaning unwanted weedsPrevents organic matter like fallen leaves from replenishing nutrients in the soil
Prevents soil erosionDiscourages Earthworms
Adds beauty and aesthetics to the gardenBreaks Down over time
Helps retain Soil MoistureCan be expensive
Prevents weeds from sproutingCan be very hard to remove as time passes
Keeps inorganic mulches from settling into the soil
Reduces the use of herbicides
Prevents burrowing pests like wireworms

How Long Does Landscaping Fabric Last?

At present, there is a wide range of anti-weeds fabrics, which differ in terms of the quality of the material or the porosity of its surface. 

But it’s important to know how long it will stay in the garden before its deterioration due to solar light and heat, or other environmental factors, force its replacement.

Whenever you plan to use a landscaping fabric in your garden to get rid of the weeds. Keep in mind that you have to replace or remove the fabric over time. 

It is because with time, it will damage the fertility of the soil under the fabric and can also let weeds to come out of the fabric. 

The landscaping fabrics will work best for 2 -3 years and after that, you have to remove them. The period can be increased if the maintenance of the fabric is good. 

The quality of the landscaping fabric that you are using in your garden also affects the time after which you have to remove it. 

What are the Downsides of Using a Landscaping Fabric?

The main objective here is to see wh disadvantages derived from using this product in crops so that you have more information when deciding if its purchase and installation is convenient for you.

  • Installation of the landscape fabrics in your garden is an expensive and time taking process. 

You have to spend a lot of money on buying good quality landscape fabrics and the pins to hold them. Their maintenance throughout the year will also cost you a lot of money. 

  • A point against the anti-weed fabric is represented by the fact that it can hinder the natural aeration of the soil, since a landscaping fabric can prevent the passage of tunneling creatures.

Worms, when moving through the soil, allow better air penetration and water in the soil layers, in addition to facilitating the accommodation of more microbes capable of degrading pesticides and fertilizers.

  • There are people to whom it can be unsightly.
  • The more resistant and aggressive weeds, such as grass, horsetail, or bindweed, can pass through some landscaping fabrics, so if this is a problem, it is recommended to acquire a high-end anti-weed fabric, which is made of material geotextile.
  • You must have heard that using chemicals around plants negatively affects the plant’s health. 

The landscape fabrics contain some dangerous chemicals and petroleum in them which can halt your plant growth. 

This is one of the reasons why most gardeners advise not to use landscape fabrics in your gardens.

  • If the gardener ever wants to change the location of the plant it will become a headache if the landscape fabric is present in the garden. 

Dividing the plant is necessary for the healthy growth of the plant when it grows and in the presence of landscape fabric, it will become a time-consuming chore. 

  • To see when your plants are re-seeding themselves is a joy of gardening. But when you use landscape fabrics in your garden, it will not allow the plants to reseed themselves.
  • Last but not least, landscape fabrics can prevent the passing of nutrients from soil toward plants.

Which Type of Landscape Fabric Lasts Longer?

Buying a landscape fabric for your garden is a big investment so you need to do some research before going for it. There are plenty of options for landscape fabrics available in the market. 

You just need to know which type and quality will work best for your garden. Let us discuss some of the best options for landscape fabrics. 

1. Woven Fabric

It is the most commonly used type of landscape fabric because of its durability and semi-permeable material. 

Woven landscape fabrics are made from linen fibers that are the best material to create a semipermeable way to sip the nutrients and water through the earth. 

Another best thing about woven landscape fabrics is that it also provides the resistance for UV rays. Similar to humans, some UV rays can also damage soil quality. 

The woven landscape fabrics are most commonly used around trees, shrubs, and flower beds.

2. Non-woven Fabric

Non-woven landscape fabrics are used where the rocks or gravel are being used in the gardens. 

Non-woven landscape fabrics are less permeable than woven landscape fabrics. Due to this water and nutrients do not easily reach the soil below it. 

Polyester is used to make non-woven landscape fabrics. Both woven and non-woven landscape fabrics have their pros and cons. It all depends on your preference.

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