We love gardening, but there’s one job we hate: weeding. You can take the strain out of this back-breaking chore by investing in a weed resistant fabric. But how do you know which one to pick?
Here we check out seven of the best weed barriers to help keep your garden looking great. And our buying guide has everything you need to know before you make your final choice.
The Best Weed Barrier of 2020
1. ECOgardener Premium 5oz Pro Garden Weed Barrier Landscape Fabric (Our Top Recommended)
This landscape fabric from ECOgardener claims to provide unparalleled weed control. So how does it measure up?
Well, it’s a durable fabric that won’t rip easily if confronted with sharp stones or tenacious plant roots. That makes it a good choice if you’re planning to cover it in gravel or decorative aggregates.
At the same time, it’s light enough to make it simple to work with. You won’t need bulging muscles to carry the fabric roll, and it’s easy to cut and fit into awkward spaces. And if you’re using fabric staples to hold it in place, they’ll slide through easily.
If you need straight lines – say, to edge a path – the lines printed on the fabric provide a useful guide. The thick backing is also great to avoid the sides fraying when they’re cut.
One of the major selling points of this fabric is its eco-friendly credentials. This is where it provides a major advantage over just sticking black plastic sacks over your soil.
The woven fabric will allow both water and air to get through to the ground. So your plants will still be able to get the moisture and nutrients they need.
ECOgardener says that their product will cope with all seasons as a result of its two-layered, needle-punched construction. In most climates, they’re probably right – but there are some limitations.
If you’re in an area prone to very high temperatures, don’t leave it uncovered for too long. There’s some evidence that prolonged exposure to very strong sunlight can cause it to degrade. Cover it up promptly with whatever your final surface will be, and you shouldn’t have any problems.
This is available in widths of either three or four feet, with a choice of 50, 100 or 250-foot lengths. So however large the space you have to cover, there’s an option to suit.
- Permeable to water and air, allowing nutrients to reach your plants
- Won’t tear easily, so a good choice to lay under gravel
- Printed guides make it simple to cut straight lines
- May degrade if left uncovered in very hot temperatures
2. Agfabric Landscape Ground Cover Weed Barrier, 3ft X 50ft
This polypropylene based landscape cover has more of a plastic finish than the fabric-like product from ECOGardener. It’s designed to be very durable, and you can even clean it off with water to further prolong its life.
The fibers here are laid flat, with gaps between the yarns to allow water and air to permeate. That will keep the soil quality healthy. The plastic will also inhibit microbes from passing through and damaging plant roots.
This is another cover that’s printed with straight lines to make laying easier. It’s particularly helpful if you want to cut regular holes for vegetable rows, or to use in a greenhouse. (Agfabric also makes versions complete with ready-cut planting holes.)
This is a heavy-duty cover, and it’s not that easy to get staples through it and into the ground. Once it’s in place, though, it won’t move or tear. And it’s still light enough to move easily around your garden when you’re installing it.
It’s tough enough to keep out all weeds. We haven’t found anyone yet who’s had an issue with shoots appearing where they didn’t want them! If you’re placing potted plants on top, their roots won’t manage to work their way through to the soil either.
The only real weak point here are the edges. Once cut, the fabric can be prone to fraying. One way to deal with this is to fold over the edge before you staple it in place. It’s a little extra work, but it’s worth doing for a neat and durable finish.
There are loads of choices available with this fabric. Pick from different weights – 2.3, 3 or 3.2 ounces. Widths vary from 3 feet all the way up to 16 feet. And you can get a roll anywhere from 50 to 330 feet long. So whatever you have in mind, there’s a weight and size that will work.
- Heavy duty polypropylene construction will block all weeds
- Range of fabric weights and sizes to suit all purposes
- Not the easiest to cut or staple
- Edges can fray if left exposed
3. Easy Gardener 15-Year Weedshield Landscape Weed Barrier, 3ft X 100ft
This landscape fabric from Easy Gardener boasts a 15-year lifespan. But don’t be misled. That doesn’t mean that once you’ve laid it, you’ll be weed-free for 15 years. Let us explain…
Whatever landscape fabric you lay, you’ll still be battling Mother Nature – and she’s a wily operator. However good the product, over time soil will blow on top. If you’ve got gravel or some other surface sitting on the weed barrier, that soil will collect largely unseen. And that will provide a new bed for weeds.
An effective landscape fabric will mean that it’s only grains of soil introduced later that provide a seed bed. The young weeds won’t have much earth to root in, so will be easy to remove. And you can always brush off the landscape fabric to remove blown-in dirt.
So with Easy Gardener, what you’re getting is a product that will stay in good condition for 15 years. That means it will keep providing an effective barrier between the soil and the air. What you get won’t be “no weeds ever”, but far fewer weeds that are much easier to remove.
That 15-year lifespan is partly because this cover is UV-resistant. That means it won’t degrade if left uncovered in the sunshine. And if you have higher temperatures in your garden, it’s a good option.
This is another landscape fabric designed to allow water and air to pass through to the soil. That’s important to keep your soil stocked with nutrients, as well as to avoid flooding.
This is a good value fabric for people with smaller gardens. It comes in only one width, three feet, with a choice of either 50 or 100-foot length rolls. It’s light and easy to use, but tough enough to keep weeds at bay. Secure it with fabric staples, place a mulch on top, and you’ll have great results.
Just remember that you’ll still need to carry out some maintenance for a perfect, weed-free surface over 15 years!
- Tough but easy to use
- 15-year lifespan
- Good value for money
- Better for smaller gardens – maximum roll length is 100 feet
4. Dewitt 12-Year Weed Barrier Fabric, 4ft X 50ft
A little more expensive than some fabrics on this list, this version from Dewitt promises to work for 12 years. As with all other brands that come with promises like this, remember that doesn’t mean you’ll never have to weed. But you will have to do it less often, and with less effort.
So is it worth the extra investment?
We think it is. This is a really thick, durable fabric. And it’s completely opaque, so it won’t let in a ray of light to help weeds grow. It’s easy to cut, and – unlike some other barriers on this list – the edges won’t unravel.
Those characteristics are the result of Dewitt’s innovative manufacturing method. This fabric is “spun-bond” rather than woven. Three layers are melted together, creating a tough finish with no gaps to let in the sunshine.
That could, of course, present a problem when it comes to allowing rainwater to reach the soil. DeWitt has dealt with this by using a water-loving coating. This will allow the water to pass through – but it can take some time.
For that reason, you’ll get the best results by spreading a layer of mulch over the fabric. Tree bark works well for this, as it’s nice and absorbent. The mulch will hold the water in place above the fabric until it has time to sink through. That means you won’t have to deal with run-off or flooding.
This is a great product for lining raised beds. Its hard-wearing nature means it also works well for do-it-yourself grow-bags. We’ve even heard of people using it as trellis to support cucumber plants!
The rolls come in a single size, 4 feet wide by 50 feet long. If you’ve got a large space to cover, look out for retailers that offer discounts on purchases of multiple rolls.
- Triple layer “spun-bond” construction makes this great at blocking out light
- Hard-wearing finish will stay in good condition for 12 years
- Easy to use and the edges don’t unravel
- Water will take time to drain through, so best used with a layer of mulch on top
- More expensive than other options.
5. DeWitt SBLT4300 Sunbelt Ground Cover Weed Barrier, 4ft X 300ft
The second weed barrier from DeWitt to make our list, the SBLT4300 is designed for gardens that experience high temperatures. If you’re planning to leave the fabric uncovered – say between rows of vegetables – it could be a good option. And it works well in greenhouses too.
The cover is made of polypropylene and it’s UV-stabilized, so it won’t degrade in direct sunlight. DeWitt is so confident of its credentials that they offer a five-year guarantee.
It will let water and nutrients reach the soil, but it isn’t the best choice if you’re growing thirsty plants. Water will drip through, but it takes time. If you use a garden sprinkler – if you’re growing soft fruit, for example – the water will collect on top.
There are a couple of ways of dealing with this problem. If you’re ready to make the investment, a drip irrigation system will work well. (It will use less water than a sprinkler too.) Cheaper and simpler, though, is to add a layer of mulch on top of the fabric. That will hold the water in place before it drains away.
When it comes to installation, this fabric is simple to use. A sharp knife or pair of scissors will cut through it easily enough as long as it’s held taut. And the printed guidelines make it easy to see that you’re laying it straight. They’re also good to keep things neat if you’re planting in rows.
This fabric is often used in commercial growing applications, and that’s reflected in the roll size. Each roll measures 4 feet wide by a generous 300 feet long.
- Guaranteed to stand up to direct sunlight for 5 years without degrading
- Printed guidelines make it easy to lay in straight lines
- Water will permeate – but it takes time.
6. Originline Weed Control Barrier Fabric Planting Holes, 3ft X 12ft
If you’re looking for a weed barrier for a small vegetable patch or flower bed, Originline’s fabric should make your shortlist.
This is another cover made from polypropylene, giving it more of a plastic than a fabric finish. It’s lightweight enough to be easy to use, but tough enough not to tear. And it’s UV-resistant too, so it won’t break down if you’re not planning to cover it with gravel or mulch.
But the most interesting feature of this weed barrier is the series of pre-cut planting holes. If you’re planting a cottage garden with organic curves and irregular borders, it won’t be for you. But if your design uses straight rows of plants, this will make life a whole lot easier.
Each 12ft roll comes with a series of round cut-outs, a few inches in diameter. They’re the right size for young plants, rather than seedlings. The cover is also printed with blue lines as an additional guide to keeping things straight.
We think this works particularly well for vegetable plots. You won’t have to measure out the space between planting holes. And you won’t risk treading on trailing leaves while you weed between rows. Water can get through easily too.
The manufacturers offer a no-quibble satisfaction guarantee. That offers some extra reassurance when you buy.
The only drawback here is the length of the roll – just 12 feet. If you want to cover a large space, it won’t be the most practical choice.
- Pre-cut holes make planting in straight lines quick and easy
- Lets through water and air to keep plants healthy
- Easy to cut and install
- Short roll length won’t be practical for larger gardens
- Designed for straight planting schemes, not cottage gardens.
7. Scotts 25-Year Pro Fabric Weed Barrier, 3ft X 150ft
Scotts claim their weed barrier will last 25 years – so it had to make our list!
This one feels like fabric, rather than plastic, and it takes staples easily. There are no printed lines, so you’ll need to make your own guide if you need a straight edge.
It’s light enough to maneuver easily, and thin enough to cut into shape without much effort. The weight of the fabric, though, can be an issue in other ways. This isn’t the thickest barrier on our list, and if left exposed it’s liable to tear. Secure it firmly and cover it with gravel or mulch for the best results.
The woven surface will allow water to permeate, but as with other weed barriers, it doesn’t happen instantly. That’s another good reason to spread a layer of mulch on top. (It will look more attractive too.)
So what about that 25-year claim?
Well, we haven’t been able to find anyone who’s been using it for long enough to confirm or deny! This fabric isn’t designed to be UV-resistant, though, so you’d need to cover it to get that level of durability. Doing so will also give water time to seep through, and protect the barrier from tearing in the wind.
Remove the mulch or gravel every so often and brush off the fabric, and you’ll stay weed-free for longer. And will the fabric cope with 25 years of sweeping? Only time will tell!
- Lightweight fabric finish
- Works well with mulch or gravel covering
- Thinner than other weed barriers on this list
- Water will take some time to permeate.
So you’ve checked out our top buys, but you’re still not sure which is the best weed barrier for your garden. Never fear, we’re here to help! Our buying guide will take you through the questions to answer before you make your final choice.
How thirsty are the plants you’ll be growing?
All the covers on our list are designed to be permeable to water, but some are more permeable than others. Why does that matter? Well, if you’re growing plants that need a lot of water – like strawberries or lavender – you’ll need a cover that absorbs water fast.
If it doesn’t, you’ll be left with pools on top of the fabric. Unless you’ve covered it in mulch, you’ll find the water evaporates before it drains through. The result? Your plants won’t get enough water and will wilt or even die.
There’s a trade-off here. The most absorbent weed barriers are also those that are more prone to allowing through weeds. Basically, if the construction allows water to get through faster, it will also allow tiny seeds to do the same.
If you’re planting something that will tolerate drier conditions, don’t worry so much about the rate of water absorption. You can concentrate on weed suppression.
Check out customer reviews for candid feedback on how products perform. If you’re growing thirsty plants, concentrate on how fast the water is absorbed. And don’t be put off by the odd person who posts a photo of weeds growing through the surface!
How hot is your growing location?
Sunlight can do a lot of damage to weed barriers. Left uncovered in hot temperatures they can crack and break down.
In most cases, you can deal with this fairly easily by adding a layer of bark or gravel over the top. It will give you a more attractive finish too.
But if you’re in a particularly hot and dry climate, look for a weed barrier specifically designed for those conditions. Search out options that say they’re “UV-resistant”, or suitable for use in greenhouses. And check whether they come with any kind of guarantee.
How big is your plot?
Landscape fabrics are usually sold in rolls, so check the width and length available before you buy. If you want to avoid weeds popping up along a short stretch of path, a 30-foot roll may suffice.
But if you’re planning on covering a large area, look for broader widths and longer rolls. They’ll be much less hassle to install. And in most cases, they’ll be more economical too.
Straight lines or curves?
If you’re looking to suppress weeds around the curved edge of a lawn, plain landscape fabric will be fine. But if you need straight edges, a weed barrier printed with guidelines will make your task far easier. Look for options with lines printed in a bright color so they’re easy to see.
And if you want to avoid weeds around straight rows of plants, consider an option with pre-cut planting holes. Check the dimensions before you buy to make sure they’re suitable for the plants you want to grow. (And don’t forget to check the distance between the plants as well as the size of the planting holes.)
As long as the dimensions are right, pre-cut fabrics will save you a lot of time in measuring and cutting.
Ready to choose?
We hope you’ve enjoyed our guide to the best weed barriers out there. Make the right choice, and you’ll find you spend less time toiling in your garden, and more time enjoying it.
Before you buy, consider whether you need a barrier with pre-cut holes or printed guidelines. Check out the rate of water absorption. And consider whether you need something that’s UV-resistant.
Our top pick is ECOGardener’s heavyweight 5-ounce landscape fabric. It’s versatile, hard-wearing, and lets through moisture and nutrients fast. But if you want to leave your weed barrier uncovered, go for the superior UV-resistance of DeWitt’s Sunbelt.
Whatever option you choose, enjoy making weeds a thing of the past without harsh chemicals. Your garden will love you for it.