How to Use Geotextile Fabric

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Geotextiles are manufactured landscape fabrics usually made of polyester. Placed beneath the surface of the soil they allow water to pass through but also serve two other purposes. They keep fine particles of soil from migrating up into a layer of stone aggregate, which is the base of all concrete and stone walkways or patios. They also keep the soil beneath them from washing away, thereby providing erosion control. A side benefit: they also serve as a barrier to weeds.

Things You'll Need

  • Geotextile fabric
  • Stone or seashell aggregate
  • Mechanical compactor
  • Topsoil
  • Landscaping plants
  • Stone or concrete surface material
  • Mulch of shredded bark or small rocks or gravel

Site Preparation

  • Remove large rocks that could pierce the geotextile fabric, tree roots and any other debris from the site.

  • Level the soil in the site. Even out larger mounds or hills and fill in low spots. Try to achieve a relatively level area before putting down the geotextile. It is not necessary to remove vegetation unless removal is needed to get the correct final grade of the site.

  • Roll out the geotextile over the site, beginning at the point most advantageous for construction. If the subsoil is of varying stability, begin at the point where the subsoil is the most stable and firm. If the site is larger than the width of the geotextile, overlap the edges by at least two feet. Install anchor pins in the areas where the overlap occurs for increased stability and reduced incidence of fine soil particles migrating up into the aggregate.

Erosion Control

  • Lay down the topsoil. At least 6 inches and up to 12 inches of topsoil should be applied over the geotextile. Rake the soil smooth and even. Apply a slightly thicker layer of soil--up to 4 inches thicker than needed as the soil will compact over time.

  • Plant landscaping plants or groundcover plants directly into soil on top of the geotextile.

  • Apply a 4 to 6 inch layer of mulch to the areas around the plantings. If you're not planting anything in the area where the geotextile is installed, apply mulch anyway. A 4 to 6 inch layer of rocks or gravel will serve the same purpose of keeping the surface soil from washing away and the geotextile will keep the remaining subsoil from washing away.

Walkways, Driveways and Patios

  • Lay down the aggregate material. It may be necessary to rent a lawn-size bulldozer if it is a large job, otherwise spread the aggregate material by the shovelful, up to the recommended thickness of the manufacturer of the final surface material.

  • Compact the aggregate material. Use either a heavy-equipment-type of roller compactor or the type that is hand-operated. Compact the aggregate to the extent recommended by the manufacturer of the final surface material and the supplier of the aggregate material.

  • Install the final surface material. In the case of driveways, sidewalks or patios, you will most likely be installing concrete or stonework on top of the layer of stone, gravel or seashell aggregate.

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