Weeds are an unsightly nuisance in any garden. To keep these pesky plants at bay, consider installing a weed barrier. Also known as landscape fabric, weed barrier is a garden fabric usually made of woven or nonwoven polypropylene. Woven barriers are the most common; their mesh texture is thick enough to prevent weeds from infiltrating your garden bed while allowing water, fertilizer, and oxygen to seep through and nourish your plants.
The best weed barrier options can save you hours of time weeding your vegetable and ornamental gardens. They’re effective, reliable, and durable, providing long-lasting protection so you can spend less time pulling up weeds and more time enjoying your verdant outdoor space.
- BEST OVERALL: ECOgardener Premium 5oz Pro Garden Weed Barrier
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: GardenMate Woven Weed Control Fabric
- BEST PROFESSIONAL-GRADE: Dewitt P5 Weed-Barrier Woven Landscape Fabric
- BEST NATURAL: Burlapper Burlap Garden Fabric
- BEST HEAVY-DUTY: Dewitt 12-Year Weed Barrier Fabric 12YR450
- BEST FOR LARGE AREAS: AGTEK Landscape Fabric
- BEST FOR SUNNY AREAS: DeWitt SBLT4300 Sunbelt Ground Cover Weed Barrier
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Weed Barrier
Weed barriers are one of the most popular methods for preventing weeds without the use of chemicals. They’re a cost-effective way to keep weeds at bay, helping to improve the look of your garden and, in vegetable gardens, even leading to a better yield by reducing competition in your soil. A good pick will be effective and durable and made to reduce weeds for several years. When shopping for the best weed barrier for your garden, consider the barrier’s material, durability, size, and eco-friendliness.
Weed barriers come in woven and nonwoven materials. Most weed barriers are made from polypropylene or polyester.
Nonwoven weed barriers are a less-permeable option, excellent for long-term weed control. Since they aren’t naturally breathable or penetrable, they are less popular for garden beds. Instead, they are best for areas you don’t want any plants to grow, like pathways or in rock or gravel landscaping. Polypropylene and polyester are the most common materials for nonwoven barriers.
As their name suggests, woven barriers are made from woven materials to create a mesh-like weave. Woven weed barriers block sunlight, preventing weed growth. But unlike nonwoven options, they have tiny spaces that allow air and water to penetrate into the soil for plant growth, making them ideal for garden beds. Perforated weed barriers perform similarly to woven barriers, but instead of a weave, they have small pinprick holes that allow water and air through. Polypropylene and burlap are the most common materials used for woven barriers.
Durability and Lifespan
A quality weed barrier should last a minimum of 5 years and up to 20 years or more. The best weed barrier options are treated to last through wear and tear as well as through rainy and sunny conditions. This ensures that they don’t tear easily underfoot and won’t break down after a season of rainy weather or exposure to direct sunlight.
Weed barriers come in various materials and thickness levels, both of which contribute to their durability and lifespan. The thicker and more durable the material, the longer the barrier should last. For example, woven materials like woven polypropylene, burlap, and linen tend to break down faster than thick, nonwoven polypropylene, which can take decades to break down.
Be sure to consider the appropriate thickness for the job. For example, a thick barrier is a durable pick under a gravel pathway, but the same barrier may be too thick for a vegetable or flower garden. For the latter situation, a thinner, more permeable weed barrier may be a better pick, even if it is less durable.
Size of Roll
Most weed barriers come in convenient rolls that are easy to transport and use. A weed barrier roll should display the fabric size, which you can use to calculate how much ground a roll can cover. Make sure to account for roughly an 8-inch overlap for areas that require several pieces of weed barrier fabric.
Weed barrier rolls are typically 3 to 6 feet wide and can range from 50 to upward of 200 feet long. For large coverage areas, consider a wider roll to cover areas faster.
When comparing similar-sized barriers, a thicker and heavier roll tends to mean thicker and longer-lasting fabric. As is the case with most home products, professional-grade products tend to be costlier, but they can have added benefits like more durable materials or better UV resistance.
The most common weed barriers you can buy at the store are made from materials like polypropylene and polyester, which are not particularly eco-friendly. Barriers made from natural fibers like burlap or linen can be a more eco-friendly option since they break down faster than plastics. Regardless of the material, by choosing a durable option, using the barrier for as long as possible, and disposing of it correctly, you can reduce your ecological footprint.
For the most eco-friendly option, consider natural barriers like mulch, straw, peat moss, or other organic materials. Using natural barriers requires more work, but since these materials are biodegradable, they are the most environmentally conscious option.
UV light is the enemy of any outdoor fabric and will eventually cause all exposed weed barriers to degrade. There are several qualities that can help a weed barrier resist UV damage.
While some high-quality weed barriers are not advertised as UV resistant, they are still made from durable materials that can last 5 years or more in a garden. To improve UV durability, consider covering the weed barrier with mulch, gravel, rocks, or other organic coverings. This decreases the barrier’s exposure to UV rays and can help it last longer.
When it comes to UV resistance, there are two options. Some materials are innately resistant to UV and are usually labeled as UV resistant. Others are UV stabilized, which means they are treated with a UV barrier to better withstand UV degradation.
How to Install a Weed Barrier
Installing a weed barrier is relatively straightforward. First, measure the area where you intend to lay the weed barrier in order to calculate the number of rolls you need—and as with most home projects, it doesn’t hurt to buy a little extra. Make sure to choose a weed barrier that is suitable for your intended use; for example, choose a thicker and impermeable barrier for under pathways compared to a thinner, permeable barrier for a garden bed. Once you’ve purchased your weed barrier, preparation is an important step. To prepare the area and install the weed barrier, follow these steps:
- Clear the area of weeds, grass, and other vegetation for the most effective coverage (aside from any plants you intend to keep, of course!).
- If applicable, add any chosen soil amendments (like compost manure or peat moss) to nurture the soil under the barrier—it is less effective to add them after the weed barrier is placed.
- Level the soil with a rake; remove sharp objects, rocks, and roots; and lay down the weed barrier according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Use pegs or garden staples every few feet to pin the barrier in place for a sturdy hold, reliable protection, and a more seamless look. Sandbags or rocks are another option.
- Optionally, spread a layer of mulch, rocks, or gravel over the barrier. This decorative layer can improve your garden’s appearance, cut down on UV damage on the barrier, retain soil moisture, and further block weed growth.
Our Top Picks
Weed barriers are a top pick for gardeners who want to reduce weeding maintenance while also reducing or nixing the need for herbicides. The best weed barriers reliably inhibit weed growth and help retain moisture and soil health. Plus, they are made to withstand the outdoors, so you won’t need to replace them for several seasons.
High strength and high permeability make this weed barrier from ECOgardener an excellent pick. It’s tough enough to handle outdoor conditions while also letting vital nutrients through to your precious plants.
A dual-layer polypropylene design features a woven layer and a needle-punched perforated layer. The two layers give it superior durability, effectively block light to prevent weed growth, and help to conserve water and soil moisture.
This versatile barrier aims to bring the best of both worlds: It’s heavy enough to stifle weed growth, but it’s a relatively lightweight option compared to thicker barriers. It’s easy to roll out and cut for a hassle-free setup. Plus, the weed barrier is striped for simple plant alignment. This roll measures 4 feet wide by 50 feet long, but various other sizes are available.
- Dimensions: 4 feet by 50 feet
- Material: Polypropylene
- Type: Woven and perforated
- Dual layers offer excellent durability and protection
- Stripes help with planting alignment
- Lightweight and easy to install
- Dual layering may make it less permeable than other options
For weed control on a budget, consider this weed barrier roll from GardenMate. Measuring 6 feet wide by 33 feet long, it’s a cost-friendly choice for garden beds, landscaping projects, pathways, and under outdoor fixtures.
This weed barrier is made of heavy-duty woven polypropylene, which is versatile and flexible for a range of projects. The tight weave blocks sunlight to prevent weed growth while maintaining permeability to let air, water, and nutrients pass through into your garden.
For long-lasting protection, this barrier fabric is UV stabilized to reduce sun degradation. Since it’s protected, it can be used in direct sunlight, in greenhouses, and anywhere outdoors without fear of it breaking down too quickly.
- Dimensions: 6 feet by 33 feet
- Material: Polypropylene
- Type: Woven
- Affordable cost per roll
- UV-stabilized coating slows sun degradation
- 6-foot width is great for covering larger areas
- More lightweight than some other options in this list
Designed for professional and commercial use, this weed barrier from Dewitt is a heavy-duty and effective option for serious gardeners. Used by landscape architects, government agencies, and professional contractors, this weed barrier is a sturdy and long-lasting choice.
Each roll measures 5 feet wide by 250 feet long and is made from woven polypropylene and needle-punched fabric. This fabric lets water, air, and nutrients through but is an effective weed block—and without the need for chemicals. This fabric won’t rot or mildew in damp areas, and it’s highly UV resistant to prevent it from degrading in sunny conditions. To assist in planting garden beds, it is striped every 12 inches to help with alignment.
- Dimensions: 5 feet by 250 feet
- Material: Polypropylene
- Type: Woven
- UV resistance prevents sun degradation
- Marked stripes help with planting alignment
- Designed for professional use
- Large roll size may be too much for some gardens
For eco-conscious shoppers, using plastic materials in the garden may be an environmental or health concern. Those looking for a natural weed covering option should consider this burlap garden fabric from the Burlapper Store. Made of 100 percent woven jute, this burlap fabric is naturally biodegradable and an eco-friendly alternative to polypropylene and other plastic fabrics.
Burlap is also naturally multipurpose, and this 40-inch by 30-foot sheet can also be used for wrapping trees and protecting bushes, shrubs, and other plants from harsh weather. It’s also an excellent option to protect grass seeds and control soil erosion. The mesh-like weave of this burlap barrier strikes a good balance between plant protection and water permeability and aeration for a healthier garden.
- Dimensions: 40 inches by 30 feet
- Material: Jute burlap
- Type: Woven
- Made from 100 percent woven jute
- Naturally biodegradable, eco-friendly option
- Multipurpose fabric for a range of gardening tasks
- More expensive per square foot than most plastic weed barriers
This heavy-duty weed fabric from Dewitt aims to control weeds before they start growing. Made of nonwoven fabric, it is an excellent heavy-duty choice for use in gardens, under pathways and decks, or under long-term landscapes.
The fabric is created using a spun-bond method, fusing together a three-ply layered weed barrier. Although it’s a nonwoven polypropylene material, it is treated with a hydrophilic treatment to encourage permeability and nutrient flow through the fabric and ensure your intended plants stay healthy. This nonwoven design also prevents the fabric from unraveling, making it easier to cut than woven options. Measuring 4 feet wide by 50 feet long, this heavy-duty fabric is also UV stabilized to help it last over a decade—up to 12 years, according to Dewitt.
- Dimensions: 4 feet by 50 feet
- Material: Hydrophilic treated polypropylene fabric
- Type: Nonwoven
- Impressive 12-year lifespan
- UV stabilized to protect from UV rays
- Won’t unravel when fabric is cut
- Nonwoven design may be less permeable than woven options
Laying down weed barrier over large areas is tedious work. This large landscaping fabric from AGTEK has the dimensions to get the job done faster and easier. Measuring a broad 8.2 feet wide by 25 feet long, its extended width cuts down on the time spent overlapping and layering rolls of landscape fabric.
The heavy-duty weed mat is made from woven polypropylene, which makes it excellent for preventing weeds while allowing water and vital nutrients through. The woven design helps to maintain soil moisture and plant health. With a higher carbon black content, this fabric has excellent light-blocking capabilities to throttle weed growth. Plus, the weed barrier is UV stabilized to provide long-lasting weed protection, even in sunny gardens.
- Dimensions: 8.2 feet by 25 feet
- Material: Polypropylene
- Type: Woven
- Extra-wide 8.2 foot width for covering large areas
- High carbon black content for superior light blocking
- UV stabilized for long-term protection
- Although wide, rolls are 25 feet long—shorter than most rolls
Sunshine is the bane of most outdoor fabrics, causing it to fade and degrade before its time. For planting in sunny areas, consider using this sturdy weed barrier from Dewitt. As part of its Sunbelt line, this barrier is UV stabilized and boasts a 5-year guarantee, even when used in direct sunlight. It’s the ideal pick for sunny gardens, nurseries, greenhouses, and any outdoor display.
Made of woven polypropylene, this barrier resists weed growth while allowing air and water to penetrate for hassle-free irrigation. A roll measures 4 feet wide by 300 feet long, providing plenty of fabric for long garden beds and large yards. This barrier also features yellow guide striping to help gardeners align plants.
- Dimensions: 4 feet by 300 feet
- Material: Polypropylene
- Type: Woven
- 300-foot length is excellent for large gardens
- UV stabilized to last 5 years, even in direct sunlight
- Guide stripes help with planting alignment
- 300-foot length may be too much for home gardeners
The ECOgardener Premium Garden Weed Barrier features a sturdy, woven and perforated dual-layered design that is heavy enough to block weeds, but lightweight enough for easy installation for home gardeners. For those looking for a cost-friendly option, consider the GardenMate Woven Weed Control Fabric, which boasts UV stability and an effective woven design for a very affordable price.
How We Chose the Best Weed Barrier
There are several important features to consider when choosing a weed barrier, but most gardeners would narrow it down to a couple of features: effectiveness and durability. The weed barriers on this list are made from materials (like polypropylene) that do an excellent job of providing weed control. Durability is also important to home gardeners; no one wants to spend time installing a weed barrier just to have it tear or degrade after only one season. Based on thorough product research, brand reputation, materials, and online reviews, the weed barriers on this list are durable enough to last several seasons—and some even come with anywhere from 5 to 30 years of guaranteed weed protection. We also included a variety of sizing, barrier types, and UV-protected options on this list to better enable you to find a suitable choice for your garden.
Installing a weed barrier is an easy, effective, and affordable way to keep pesky weeds at bay. Once you’ve chosen and installed your weed barrier, it should provide year after year of weed reduction or elimination. Read on for some frequently asked questions and answers on installing and using your new weed barrier.
Q. Does weed barrier fabric let water through?
It depends on the type; nonwoven weed barrier fabrics tend to be less permeable, while woven barrier fabrics are made to let water through.
Q. What is the best weed barrier to use under rocks?
For rock landscaping, consider using a plastic, nonwoven weed barrier.
Q. Should I put a weed barrier under my raised beds?
You can put a weed barrier under a raised garden bed, but keep in mind that it will not prevent weeds from growing in the soil above the barrier.
Q. Is landscape fabric safe for vegetable gardens?
Yes, landscape fabric is safe to use in vegetable gardens.
Q. What is the difference between landscape fabric and a weed barrier?
The terms “landscape fabric” and “weed barrier” are often used interchangeably and often refer to the same type of product: a fabric-like material used to hinder weed growth.
Q. Can I put landscape fabric over weeds?
Yes, you can put landscape fabric over weeds and still have a good result. However, it’s best to clear the area first. Weed barrier might not stop all weed growth and can be punctured by sharp rocks or roots, so it’s best to clear and level the area before placing landscape fabric.
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Jasmine Harding is a freelance writer and avid traveler. She is a DIY enthusiast with a keen interest in budget finds and sustainable living. In her free time, you can find her embroidering, researching her next home project, or watching nature documentaries.