Fabric for Weed Control


Have you considered using fabric in your conservation tree planning but have some unanswered questions and/or concerns?  Below is a list of advantages, disadvantages and management practices prepared by the North Dakota Soil Conservation Districts.

Fabric Advantages

  • Installed once for several years of weed control.
  • Promotes quicker establishment of trees and shrubs.
  • Can increase survival rate from 20% to 80%.
  • Comparable in cost to other weed control methods when averaged over a 3 to 5 year period.
  • Reduces the amount of salinity leaching to the soil surface by reducing evaporation.
  • Retains moisture for tree use in dry years.

Fabric Disadvantages

  • Cost is upfront rather than spread over years.
  • Must be properly installed to prevent it from being blown loose in high winds.
  • Not recommended for suckering shrubs.
  • Must be annually inspected to prevent girdling of trees. (Holes around trees would need to be enlarged.)
  • Accumulated leaf litter and soil must be removed from fabric to remain effective.
  • Does not break down within the shade of trees and shrubs, so will eventually need to be removed.
  • Fabric can be destroyed if tangled in mowers or farm equipment.

It is important to inspect your weed barrier at least ANNUALLY

  • Ensure that the edges are firmly anchored and covered.
  • Remove soil and organic matter from surface of fabric.
  • Remove weeds that may establish in tree openings or on accumulated debris.
  • Enlarge fabric openings around trees to prevent girdling (strangling) of your trees.
  • Other weed control alternatives should be considered if you are trying to establish suckering shrubs or a dense thicket.