Landscape fabric is often recommended in garden borders that use rockscape or gravel to cover them. But some gardeners may wonder whether landscaping fabric can be used over pre-existing gravel or rocks.
Landscaping fabric can be placed over rocks. Landscape fabric is typically placed underneath rocks or gravel but can be placed on top to prevent weeds or grass from growing. Mulch, gravel or more rock can then be placed on top.
Installing landscape fabric over rocks has to be done correctly to look right. Read on to learn more about putting landscape fabric over rocks and what you need to know before you do it.
If you’ve got a section of gravel or landscaping rocks in your garden that you want to cover up with landscaping fabric, you’ll be happy to know that you can place landscape fabric over the gravel.
Landscaping fabric can be a quick fix for covering up gravel in the garden or yard that you don’t want, but there are other reasons why gravel is sometimes placed under landscape fabric:
- Drainage: In areas with heavy or compacted soil, adding a layer of gravel before laying landscape fabric can help allow water to drain through the landscape fabric without clogging it.
- Aeration: Heavy soil that retains water may also cause problems with oxygen reaching the soil beneath the landscape fabric. Gravel can help aerate the soil and keep it healthy under the fabric.
- Leveling: In garden areas that are uneven, adding gravel and raking it level before placing landscape fabric can prevent the garden bed from sagging in some areas or hilling in others.
- Weed prevention: Adding a layer of gravel under a landscape fabric can help add an additional barrier against the growth of weeds in landscaping features.
Adding fine gravel to garden borders and beds can generally help make soil more friable and easy to turn when it comes time to add plants and other garden features.
Placing landscape fabric over rocks or gravel is similar to the process of placing landscape fabric underneath rocks, with some slight changes in method.
Follow these steps to put landscape fabric over existing rock or gravel:
- Remove any visible weeds. Leaving weeds under the landscape fabric can lead to mature weeds breaching the fabric and making it less sturdy over time.
- Rake the rocks level. Before you add the landscaping fabric, you’ll want the rocks in your garden bed or border to be flat and even. Use a rake to rake the rocks until they form a smooth surface to place your landscape fabric. (source: thespruce.com)
- Place the landscape fabric. Once the rocks or gravel are raked level, place the landscape fabric over the rock section, cutting it to size.
- Add mulch. Cover the landscape fabric mulch. It is recommended to use inorganic mulch over landscape fabric since organic mulches will eventually decompose and form another layer of soil above the landscape fabric.
Adding landscaping fabric is a quick way to reset a gravel garden border and change it over to either rubber mulch or a plantable bed.
Putting landscape fabric over rocks can be an easy way to cover up pre-existing gravel, but it helps to know a few tricks to make the job go more smoothly. Follow these tips for the best results when you put landscape fabric over rocks:
- Use the right kind of mulch. Landscape fabric is more compatible with rubber mulch since it will not decompose and create soil on top of the weed fabric.
- Measure twice and cut once. Take a careful measurement of your garden bed or border and cut the landscaping fabric to fit.
- Cut holes for plants. If you plan on adding plants to the same bed where you’re placing landscape fabric, place a hole at each point in the fabric where you plan to plant. This will allow the plant’s roots to reach down through the fabric to reach the soil below.
- Allow for overlap. Add enough landscape fabric that you have six to twelve inches of overlap at each point of intersection. If there are gaps, this may allow enough sunlight down into the soil to allow weed growth.
Taking a moment to plan ahead when laying landscape fabric in the garden can save you a lot of hassle and mistakes in the long run, so consider your bed or border carefully before you begin cutting and laying your fabric.
Can You Use Multiple Layers of Landscape Fabric Over Rocks?
It is not generally recommended to use multiple layers of landscape fabric since this can make the landscape fabric less permeable to oxygen and water.
In the long run, adding too much landscape fabric to your garden can have the following negative impacts:
- Flooding: If the landscape fabric isn’t thin enough to allow water to pass through, this can cause standing water in your garden beds. This excess water is enough to drown and kill many plants since their roots cannot receive oxygen this way.
- Oxygen exchange: Too many layers of landscape fabric can prevent efficient oxygen exchange in the topsoil and remove the beneficial microbes contained there.
It’s okay to have layers of landscape fabric overlap a little where you have multiple sections running down a border, but try to keep this overlap to a minimum to prevent drainage and aeration issues in the garden.
Even though landscape fabric can be placed over rocks and gravel in the garden, it’s far more common to find this fabric placed under a layer of rocks and gravel. (source: bhg.com)
When used as a barrier between the topsoil and a layer of rocks on the top of the garden border, landscape fabric can help prevent weeds and keep the garden looking tidy.
Whether you place landscape fabric under or over rocks and gravel in the garden, this fabric can prove to be a practical material for preventing weeds and supporting rock-based landscaping borders.