Geotextiles are flexible fabrics made of chemically inert  plastics that are highly resistant to deterioration in the soil. They are used for a variety of purposes relating to site development and the foundations of buildings.

As described in the accompanying text, in earth reinforcement  or  soil reinforcement, a plastic mesh fabric or grid is used to support an earth embankment or retaining wall. The  same type of mesh may be utilized in layers to stabilize engineered fill beneath a shallow footing (Figure A), or to stabilize marginal soils under driveways, roads, and airport runways, acting very much as the roots of plants do in preventing the movement of soil particles.

Another geotextile that is introduced later in this chapter is drainage matting, an open matrix of plastic filaments with a feltlike filter fabric laminated onto one side to keep soil particles from entering the matrix. In addition to providing free drainage around foundation walls, drainage matting is often used beneath the soil in the bottoms of planter boxes and under heavy paving tiles on rooftop terraces, where it maintains free passage for the drainage of water above a waterproof membrane.


Synthetic filter fabrics are wrapped over and around subterranean crushed stone drainage layers such as the one frequently used around a foundation drain. In this position, they keep the stone and pipe from gradually
becoming clogged with fine soil particles carried by the groundwater. Similar fabrics are used at grade during construction, acting as temporary barriers to filter soil out of water that runs off a construction site, thus preventing contamination of lakes, streams, or stormwater systems.

Special geotextiles are manufactured to stake down on freshly cut slopes to prevent soil erosion and encour-age revegetation; some of these are designed to decay and disappear into the soil as plants take over the function of slope stabilization. Another type of geotextile is used for weed control in landscaped beds, where it allows rainwater to penetrate the soil but blocks sunlight, preventing weeds from sprouting.

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