Can You Use a Tarpaulin under Gravel? How to Use It?

Can You Use a Tarpaulin under Gravel? How to Use It?

Here is a detailed guide to show you how to use a tarpaulin to control weeds if you have no idea of using a tarpaulin under gravel.

When constructed properly, rock beds require little to no maintenance, though they never require any at all. To construct a rock bed properly, a barrier must be put between the rocks and your soil. Heavy-duty landscape fabric is typically the material of choice for barriers, but tarps or other types of plastic can occasionally serve as a suitable alternative.

Here are some things to take into account before laying a tarpaulin beneath the gravel.

Can You Use a Tarpaulin under Gravel?

In the soil, landscape fabric offers excellent defense against weeds, insects, fungi, and other undesirable issues. While some prefer these tarp-like fabrics for organizational purposes, many use them to encourage root growth. This fabric can be very helpful whether you’re replacing an existing layer of gravel or just adding some new.

The use of landscape fabric beneath gravel is recommended because it stops weeds and other plants from penetrating the surface. To improve filtration and hydration for your plants, you can also lay a layer of landscape fabric beneath pea gravel. Maintain the fabric three inches or so below the surface.

Factors to Consider When Using a Tarpaulin Under Gravel

Before you purchase a tarpaulin to use as landscaping fabric, make sure you’ve considered the pros and cons. Tarps don’t always help in the way you are planning unless you’ve taken the time to research the right tarpaulin for the job.

Draw a Rough Sketch First

Make a sketch of the landscaped garden you desire before you take any further action. To mark the boundaries, measure the area in your yard and erect stakes. If necessary, you can mark the edges with spray paint. Map out what you want in the landscaped area and where it will go. This serves as a guide for positioning the landscaping weed barrier and all of the plants.

The Tarpaulin Should Let Water Through

Can You Use a Tarpaulin under Gravel? How to Use It?

The majority of the time, you need landscaping fabric that enables water from the rain or irrigation system to permeate through the tarpaulin and into the soil beneath. The plants will go without water and nutrients if you don’t make sure water can seep through. Weeds can get through holes if you make a lot of them. The tarpaulin should not have any holes or slits, if at all possible.

Having said that, there is one way to use landscaping fabric with a waterproof tarp. Put it wherever you don’t have any plants. You want to place it around the plants in a manner that prevents the need to cut or poke holes.

Consider laying the tarpaulin around a line of azalea bushes as an example. Lay one tarpaulin on the front of the bushes and the other on the back. The beds in front of and behind the bushes are weed-free, but water is seeping into the bushes through the spaces between the two tarps. To keep the tarps in place, cover them with mulch or crushed stone.

Weeds will pass through any holes you add. If you place the tarps around the plants, you might need to weed the area around the plants but not the rest of the garden bed.

Newspaper sheets should be soaked, and layered around the plant, and the edges should be tucked under the tarpaulin if you absolutely must add holes or cut slits. Because the wet newspaper is malleable, it is simple to shape it to fit around plants and tree trunks. Those wet newspaper sheets help you avoid weeds.

The Tarpaulin’s Color is Important

Pick a black plastic tarpaulin if you want to cover your landscape weed fabric barriers with it. The best color to keep out the sun and stop weed growth is black. What if you can’t get the tarpaulin you want in black? Choose a color that is as dark as you can. Additional choices include dark gray, dark brown, and dark green.

Purchase the Correct Size

Can You Use a Tarpaulin under Gravel? How to Use It?

Make sure the tarpaulin you order is the appropriate size. You need a landscaping tarpaulin that is just a little bit larger if you’re planning a landscaped area that is 15 by 30 prime. In contrast to finish size, tarps are sold by tarpaulin specialists like Chicago Canvas & Supply in cut sizes. It takes about three inches per side to add the seams and hems.

If you order a tarpaulin that is 15×30′ and doesn’t realize the measurements are cut size, the tarpaulin you end up receiving will be around 14.5×29.5′. There will be some frustration because it is a little too small.

Be Adventurous When Landscaping

Be adventurous when landscaping your yard. Weed-blocking fabric is one option, but you could explore the use of a vinyl tarpaulin and building a water garden instead of a traditional garden. Purchase a solar-powered pump, then install rocks and waterfalls. Fish is a natural repellent for mosquitoes. Water lilies and other water plants add bursts of color.

Consider creating a Zen garden in a section of your yard. Set down the weed-blocking tarpaulin and cover it with sand that is evened out into a layer that’s several inches thick. Sand, boulders, potted bonsais, and large vases can also be added. Using gardening tools, make the sand patterns after placing the rocks and other objects.

Choose the Right Type of Tarpaulin

Finally, start thinking about the type of tarpaulin that best suits your needs based on your landscaping plans. A tarpaulin that allows water to drain is essential for creating a Japanese sand garden; otherwise, you risk having a soggy mess.

Here are the main types of tarpaulins:

For water gardens, the ideal tarpaulin is one that is 100 percent waterproof. Most tarps will work for traditional gardens, but you must cover them with stones or mulch for aesthetics and drainage.

How to Use a Tarpaulin to Control Weeds?

Can You Use a Tarpaulin under Gravel? How to Use It?

A plastic tarpaulin can act as an effective and inexpensive weed barrier in gardens. Similar to landscaping fabric, the tarpaulin can be used as a permanent soil cover or as a temporary aid when fumigating soil to control weeds. When using a tarpaulin as a permanent barrier, use a black plastic tarp.

Permanent Use

  1. On top of the ground, spread out the tarp. Make sure it is level and completely covers the ground.
  2. Mulch should be spread 2 to 3 inches thick on top of the plastic tarp. The best materials are wood chips, sand, or small gravel.
  3. Remove the mulch from the areas you intend to plant. With scissors, make a hole in the tarpaulin that is 1 to 2 inches wider than the root ball of the plant.
  4. A small garden shovel can be used to remove the soil that is visible through the tarp’s holes. Make the holes about half an inch deeper than the height of the root ball.
  5. Then, surround the root balls with soil after inserting the plants into the holes. Clear off any excess soil from the top of the tarpaulin to inhibit weed growth on the surface.
  6. Replace the mulch around the plants, leaving 1 to 2 inches around the stems to allow water to properly permeate the exposed soil beneath. Water will permeate the soil, but the plastic tarpaulin prevents weeds from growing in the area between the plants.

Temporary Use

Can You Use a Tarpaulin under Gravel? How to Use It?
  1. In accordance with the product’s instructions, apply a soil fumigant, such as dazomet, to the soil. To combine the fumigant with the soil, use a rototiller to till the ground 2 to 3 inches deep.
  2. Water all the soil thoroughly.
  3. The tarpaulin should be placed over the wet soil, and the edges should be weighted down with rocks or wood. This will prevent the tarpaulin from blowing away and aid in retaining the moisture of the soil.
  4. After one week, take the tarpaulin off. Use a rototiller on the soil to a depth of 2 inches. You shouldn’t till any deeper because doing so could bring dormant weed seeds to the surface and encourage new weed growth.
  5. Wait 14 to 20 days before planting in the soil to ensure new plants are not killed by fumigant residue.

Some Practical Considerations

Choose tarps or other plastic materials with built-in UV protection if you decide to forgo traditional landscaping fabric. Otherwise, after a few years in the ground, it will simply decompose, requiring you to dig it up and start over.

Additionally, your approach should change depending on whether your rock landscaping will include plants. If so, leave a ring around each plant that is free of plastic and roughly equal to the size of the root ball that the plant is anticipated to have when it is mature.

So, the roots can get access to water and nutrients. To combat the tarp’s propensity to decrease fertility, it’s also crucial to loosen and enrich the soil that lies beneath the covering.

Keeping It Weed-Free

A fresh layer of soil gradually forms between, beneath, and around your rocks as a result of blown-in dust, leaves, and other organic material. You must have a strategy in place for dealing with weeds because they will unavoidably sprout in that new soil.

One option is to take your rock feature apart once or twice a decade and use a hose to wash the dirt from the area around the rocks, but this takes time and money. Learn How to Clean Tarpaulin.

Can You Use a Tarpaulin under Gravel? How to Use It?

The simplest and “greenest” option is to spend time pulling weeds and seedlings as they appear, especially early in the year when they’re not yet well-established and haven’t been seeded.

If that’s more work than you’re up for, you can reduce weeds by spraying your rock feature with a preemergent herbicide, which stops weed seeds from sprouting. Read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully before using the product, and avoid using it in any area that could drain into your garden beds.

What Do You Put under Landscape Gravel?

To stop landscape gravel from settling into the ground, encouraging weed growth, or draining unevenly, place fabric underneath it. With some assistance, landscape fabric installation can be completed in a few hours. It’s also a fantastic option for those who want to use Xeriscaping to lessen their carbon footprint.

Here are three reasons you should put landscape fabric under gravel:

  • Landscape fabric is good for gravel because it prevents weeds from growing. One of the main reasons people add landscape fabric under gravel, according to SF Gate, is that it prevents weeds and other invasive plants from growing through. Contrary to popular belief, weeds don’t always stop growing in gravel.
  • The fabric will keep the gravel level and even rather than allowing holes and dents. Nobody wants to deal with a shabby pile of gravel. The terrain will be uneven, with hills on one side, dips on the other, and a big mess in the center. The addition of a fabric layer prevents the gravel from sinking into the ground, especially when the soil is wet.
  • Installing landscape fabric can take less than a day. The process of adding a fabric layer doesn’t have to take weeks. In actuality, the majority of people can complete the task in as little as four hours. Ask a few friends to assist you so you can finish the task faster.
Can You Use a Tarpaulin under Gravel? How to Use It?

Why not add a layer of landscape fabric to keep your yard looking great as ever since owning gravel is much more environmentally friendly than having a lawn? Nevertheless, there are a few situations where it might not be the best decision.

Tarpaulins Vs. Landscape Fabric

In some instances, putting a tarpaulin or other type of thick plastic sheeting under the gravel instead of landscape fabric can be a desirable substitute. Plastic is available in relatively large sizes and may be less expensive than high-end fabric, for instance. With just one sheet, you could theoretically cover the entire area beneath your landscaping, ensuring that there are no gaps for weeds to grow through.

The drawback is that tarps and other types of plastic are totally water-proof. Any rain that falls on the area of your property covered in rocks simply runs off without penetrating the soil and being retained for use by the nearby plants or lawn.

Additionally, the impermeable material suffocates living things in the soil beneath the rock beds by preventing oxygen from reaching them. Between that and the weight of the rock, you can turn fertile topsoil into sterile, compressed “hardpan” in a surprisingly few years.

When Should You Not Use Landscape Fabric?

Use of landscape fabric is not advised if you plan to reseed the soil or if the fabric contains an excessive amount of synthetic chemicals. Chemicals present in a variety of fabrics have the potential to harm the soil and render it unfit for the growth of different plants.

Even though having gravel might not be a big deal, it’s not the best for all landscaping tasks.

Therefore, when should you avoid using landscaping fabric?

  1. If you don’t put the fabric about 3 to 4 inches below the surface, you could risk dealing with too many weeds. Remember that many invasive plants can root, grow, and spread in as little as a few inches. For your gravel plot, this scenario might be a nightmare.
  2. Your Green Pal explains some landscape fabrics contain harsh chemicals and compact the soil, making it very difficult to reseed. But if you have sod, it usually won’t be a big deal. This point has no bearing on your strategy if all you intend to use it for is gravel.
  3. Landscape fabric eventually has to be replaced. When it comes time to replace it, you must take out the entire layer of gravel, set it aside, rip out the fabric, and apply a fresh one. This demanding job can be overwhelming and expensive, and it takes up a lot of workspace.

Landscape fabric works almost always, aside from these issues. Your gravel, lawn, and garden will all be perfectly level after using it. In order to allow your plants to grow without harming them, many landscape fabrics are made to filter water and oxygen.

Conclusion: You Can Use a Tarpaulin under Gravel

You can use tarpaulin under gravel. Instead of using traditional landscaping fabric, consider using tarps or other plastic, but make sure it has UV protection. Otherwise, after a few years in the soil, it will simply decompose, necessitating a new excavation and start-over process.


Can Weeds Grow through Tarpaulin?

Arguably the most important benefit of tarps is suppressing weeds prior to planting a crop. No weeds can germinate and survive underneath an opaque tarp, and any emerged weeds prior to tarpaulin application are killed within three weeks due to light suppression.

What Should I Put Down before Laying Gravel?

It is a good idea to place a weed-suppressing membrane over the top to prevent weeds from breaking through the gravel. The final step is to simply spread the gravel on top in the desired pattern to create the desired look.

Can You Use a tarpaulin for Ground Cover?

Lay a tarpaulin over the area of soil you want to cover — you also can use landscape fabric. On top of the tarp, scatter rocks. Choose the locations of your plants, remove any mulch from these areas, and then dig holes large enough to fit each plant. Plants should be placed in the appropriate holes, and any gaps should be filled with soil.

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