Is it OK to put landscape fabric around trees?

Answered by Robert Flynn

Is it OK to put landscape fabric around trees?

When it comes to using landscape fabric around trees, there are a few factors to consider. While landscape fabric can be beneficial in certain applications, it may not be the best choice for use around trees. Here’s why:

1. Water movement: Non-woven landscape fabric allows some water movement, but it is not as permeable as other types of landscape fabrics. This means that water may not be able to penetrate the fabric as easily, potentially leading to moisture issues for the tree. Trees require a good amount of water to thrive, and any restriction in water movement could negatively impact their health.

2. Root suffocation: Trees have extensive root systems that require oxygen for proper growth and development. If landscape fabric is placed around the base of a tree, it could restrict the flow of oxygen to the roots, leading to suffocation. This can ultimately hinder the tree’s ability to absorb nutrients and water, potentially causing long-term damage.

3. Weed control: One of the main reasons people use landscape fabric is to control weeds. However, around trees, it’s important to prioritize the health and well-being of the tree over weed control. Instead of relying on landscape fabric, consider using organic mulch around the base of the tree. Mulch helps suppress weed growth while also providing beneficial nutrients as it breaks down over time.

4. Tree growth: As trees grow, their roots expand and spread outwards. Placing landscape fabric around the base of a tree can restrict the natural growth and movement of the roots. This can lead to root girdling, where the roots wrap around themselves and potentially strangle the tree. It’s essential to allow trees the space they need to grow and thrive.

In my personal experience as a landscaper, I have seen cases where landscape fabric was used around trees, and it resulted in negative consequences. The trees struggled to receive enough water and nutrients, and in some cases, they even showed signs of stress and decline. It is crucial to prioritize the health of the tree above all else when making landscaping decisions.

While landscape fabric can be useful in certain applications, it may not be the best choice for use around trees. The risk of restricting water movement, suffocating roots, hindering tree growth, and potentially causing long-term damage outweighs any potential benefits. Instead, focus on using organic mulch to suppress weeds and promote a healthy environment for your trees.