9 Simple Steps for Installing Landscape Fabric Under Decorative Stones
Congratulations! You have chosen to do your landscape stone project the right way by purchasing one of Online Stone Solutions bundles containing landscape fabric. Laying down landscape fabric is the easiest and often the most effective method for fighting weeds. It prevents weed seeds from germinating in the soil or from landing and taking root from above the soil. And because landscape fabric is "breathable," it allows water, air, and some nutrients to flow down to the soil to feed desirable plants. The fabric also separates the decorative stone from the soil, keeping the stones clean and prevents them from sinking into or mixing with the soil. You have been provided with a quality non-woven geotextile fabric, with a manufacturer's warranty of 12 years. You’ve invested in high end stones, now is not the time to cheap out on inferior woven or impermeable options which will not perform over the years.
Installing landscape fabric isn't much harder than spreading out a bed sheet. Here is what you’ll need:
Equipment / Tools
- Garden hoe
- Steel rake
- Utility knife
- Landscape fabric
- Landscape fabric staples
- OSS landscape Stone
- Plants (optional)
Remove All Vegetation
Dig out all weeds, grass, and other vegetation. Use a garden hoe, shovel, or other tool. Be sure to dig deep enough to get the roots otherwise many plant will grow back even if covered with landscape fabric.
Alternatively, you can kill the plants with a non-selective, or broad-spectrum, herbicide (such as Roundup). Apply the herbicide as directed by the manufacturer, and allow time for the plants to die completely. This method typically takes a week or two to completely kill the existing vegetation.
Determine Desired Grade and Depth
This is where you need to determine if you are going to change the drainage or slope of the area and how deep you will be installing the stones. As a general rule of thumb the depth of installed stone should be at least 1.5 times the diameter of the stone. If you are installing 3” diameter stone, then installed depth should be at least 4.5 inches. This works for the majority of ground cover areas where the point is just to visibly cover the landscape fabric 100%. Foot and vehicular traffic areas will need to be installed at greater depth. Be sure to see our handy blog article How to Calculate the Right Amount of Landscape Rock for a more detailed explanation.
- Excavate or Fill Your Space Accordingly
Migrating rocks can become a danger if they get into the path of a lawnmower. Lining the bed properly, installing the rock mulch correctly, and utilizing a quality border material will help minimize these concerns. Beyond the danger of airbourne stones, a well thought out and executed border reduces maintenance and visually defines various landscape areas of the yard.
5. Lay the Landscape Fabric
Roll out the landscape fabric so it is parallel to the long dimension of the area. Cut the material off of the roll, as needed, with a sharp utility knife (it helps to replace the blade frequently so it is always sharp). If desired, you can run the pieces long and trim them later; it's better to have too much fabric than too little. (This is why you’ve been provided with 150 Sqft roll of Fabric per pallet even though each pallet of stone will cover significantly less than this) If you need more than one row of fabric, overlap the pieces by at least 6 inches. You can temporarily weigh down the fabric, if necessary in windy conditions, with spare stones or other heavy objects.
6. Secure the Fabric With Staples
Confirm that the fabric is positioned properly, then secure it with landscape fabric staples using a hammer. Drive a staple every couple of feet, or so, along the edges and seams and as needed over the interior areas (keep in mind that your stones will be holding down the fabric once installed. We’ve included enough staples to cover approximately 100 sqft of area. Trim the fabric along the edges, if needed.
7. Plant Through the Landscape Fabric (optional)
If you're adding plants in the area, make an X-shaped incision in the landscape fabric for each plant, using scissors or a utility knife. Cut from the outside toward the center, and make the incisions just big enough for digging a hole for the root ball of the plant. The fewer and smaller the holes you put in the fabric the better. Pull the flaps aside to dig the hole, and dump the soil into a wheelbarrow or tub, rather than onto the surrounding fabric. Install the plant, back-fill around the root ball with soil, and lightly tamp the soil to eliminate air pockets. Lay the four flaps of fabric snugly against the base of the plant to cover the soil.
8. Add Stone
Cover the landscape fabric with your new stones. Spread and smooth the stones with a wide rake, being careful not to damage the fabric. Leave a few inches around the base of each plant bare so that the stones don’t impede growth. Rinse down your finished area to wash any dust, dirt, or rock fines of the surface of the stones.
9. Step Back and enjoy your handy work. WELL DONE!
Areas covered with landscape fabric require very little maintenance to remain weed-free over time. But do not neglect them completely as windblown soil and dust can accumulate on the top of the fabric and eventually support the germination of weed seeds. Catch them early and weeds are extremely easy to pull as their roots haven’t had time to establish and potentially grow down through the fabric. Read our guide on when to use landscape fabric and when not to here.