How to Replace Landscape Fabric

Professionally landscaped yards and gardens have a layer of landscape fabric under the plant growth. After a few years of exposure to rain and frost, it will need replacement. This task takes a considerable amount of time, but the benefits to your garden are well worth the trouble.

Tools and Supplies Required

  • 9x9-foot tarpaulin
  • Point-end spade
  • Lightweight slim rake
  • Flat-edged shovel
  • Landscape fabric
  • Anchor pins for the fabric in metal or plastic
  • Weed killer

Step 1: Measure the Area to Be Recovered

Measure the area, and then buy sufficient landscaping fabric to recover the ground.

Step 2: Clear the Protective Ground Cover and Old Landscape Fabric

Place the tarp outside the area to be cleared. Shovel or gently rake the mulch or other ground cover onto it. Discard the ground cover off the tarp into the trash, as it should not be reused. Pull up the old landscape fabric and discard. Work it up gently over existing plants, or tear it away at the plant cut holes.

Step 3: Prepare the Garden Soil

Use a garden claw and rake to loosen and aerate the soil. Extract all remaining weeds, mulch bits and other plant debris. Spray an effective and safe weed killer—such as Preen—over the entire area.

Step 4: Lay Down the New Landscape Fabric

Spread the new fabric over the cleared area. Make cuts 6 inches in diameter over plants in the flowerbed. Overlap fabric by 6 inches when laying more than one sheet beside another.

Step 5: Settle and Anchor the Landscape Fabric

Reach through the cuts and gently pull plants through the landscape fabric. If the plant is too big, increase the size of the cut and slide fabric over the plant. Patch a second layer of fabric over the enlarged slit. Secure the landscape fabric with the plastic or metal anchors all the way around the flowerbed, including across any overlapped panels.

Step 6: Add Fresh Ground Cover

Pour a fresh layer of mulch or other ground cover onto the new landscape fabric. Cover to a depth of 1 inch so the landscape fabric is totally concealed. Taper the mulch layer near plant roots and tree trunks. Do not water if you have done so within 24 hours prior to replacing the fabric.

After replacing the landscape fabric, use a leaf blower in autumn to clear away plant debris and fallen leaves from the mulch. Also keep lawn shavings cleared away from the mulch and landscape fabric regularly. This debris is an ideal growth medium for weeds. They will not penetrate the soil under the weed control fabric, but they will make your garden look untidy, and will provide homes for insect pests.

Landscape fabric has many other uses including to help the soil around garden shrubs retain water and reduce weed growth. You can also use it when first transplanting cuttings, to help them grow strong and disease-free prior to planting in their designated flowerbed.