Landscaping Fabric

Happy Sunday All! 

I am hoping to gravel round a sizeable area of raised beds, currently on lawn, forming a network of paths. This is for aesthetics, security (the area is in front of two sets of french doors) and to provide definition between the husband's beloved 'formal (ahem) lawn' and my treasured veg patch! My question is, do I HAVE to use landscaping fabric underneath the gravel? I have been reading about it and it seems like horrible stuff. A lot of professional landscapers give it a really bad rep on line. I was thinking about using cardboard but my question is what happens when the cardboard breaks down - will my gravel disappear into the earth below? I don't mind weeding, I would certainly rather weed than wreck the soil below. Any thought or ideas would be mighty welcome! x


  • If all you ever want to do from now on is walk on these paths there is no reason why fabric is not a good option. Without it perennial weeds such as docks and dandelions will continue to appear and are deep rooted. Eventually your gravel and the soil will start to mix and you will have an unholy mess that you will find difficult to sort out. Fabric will not mean you are weed free but it will keep the situation manageable.

    Cardboard would delay the problem but only for a while.

    If you ever wanted to get rid of the paths in the future you could scoop up the gravel, remove the fabric and dig the soil over.

    You could use bark instead, over fabric.

  • DorcasDorcas Posts: 159

    I'd always go for a weed suppressant fabric underneath otherwise the gravel will quickly get muddy and dirty and you'll have to keep topping it up as it will sink into the soil.  There are various types of fabric so not sure which one the landscapers didn't like.  The one we used was a soft weave rather than the plastic looking one and it's been down about 20 years and still going strong.

    Cardboard will break down very quickly and can go slimy so I wouldn't go for that option.  Do put down a thick layer of gravel as this will prevent any annual weeds growing strongly and makes for very easy weeding.  Also, once a year I give ours a quick rake over just to bring it back to looking like new.

  • Most mulches are perfect seed beds for germinating weed seeds but, as Dorcas says, they pull out easily.

    Some of my plants, such as agapanthus and erigeron germinate in my gravel paths. I tease them out and pot them up.imageimage

  • DorcasDorcas Posts: 159

    So do I 'Woodgreen'.  It's a great way to increase stock!


  • Dave MorganDave Morgan Posts: 3,124

    If you are going to use it, edge it with gravel boards. You tuck the fabric under the edge of the boards to keep it in place then put the gravel on to it. At first it looks rubbish, but over a season it blends in as the grass comes up to the edges. It's better than having fabric flapping about. 

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