Continue now for our guide to understanding and choosing between the wide array of available weed barriers, along with our top picks among the very best landscape fabric options today.
Often made of polypropylene or linen, woven landscape fabric is the most common weed barrier best suited for flower beds and in areas around trees and shrubs. Small holes in the fabric allow water, air, and nutrients to penetrate. For gravel gardens and pathways, consider the sturdier nonwoven option. While it allows some water movement, nonwoven fabric isn’t as porous as its woven and perforated counterparts, so it’s not the best choice for landscaped beds. Highly permeable perforated landscape fabric is lightweight and ideal for areas with less foot traffic, specifically vegetable gardens and raised beds.
Key Shopping Considerations for Landscape Fabric
Whether we like it or not, weeds are part of every landscape, competing with our trees, shrubs, and flowers for vital nutrients. At times it can seem like weeds are the one true constant in the yard—and in many ways that’s true. Thousands of weed seeds lie just beneath the surface of the soil, waiting for the sun to warm them so they can burst forth and grow faster than any other plants on your property.
Choosing the best landscape fabric for weed control is not a tough decision, but choices vary based on the size of the job, the amount of foot traffic you expect in the areas, whether or not you will cover the fabric, and the intended use of the area you’re protecting.
Exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays has damaging effects on many surfaces, including landscape fabric. For this reason, these barriers often require spreading a layer of mulch or gravel over the fabric to decrease exposure to UV light, thereby slowing the breakdown of the material. Many barriers are labeled UV resistant or UV stabilized. “Resistant” implies that the fabric has innate qualities that make it less susceptible to damaging sunlight. Those labeled “UV stabilized” have been chemically coated to repel ultraviolet light. If chemicals are out of the question, like around edible plantings, choose the UV-resistant option.
Weeds just love the open, sunny spaces between garden plants. Plant vegetables, flowers and shrubs at the closest recommended spacing. Consider using block spacing instead of growing in rows to eliminate the open areas weeds tend to pop up in.
Weeds compete with grass and garden plants for space, light, water and soil nutrients. Not only do they look bad and have the ability to take over quickly, they’re also the perfect hosts for disease and insects. Before you know it, one weed can turn into many little thieves robbing your plants of their health.
The best way to prevent weeds from spreading throughout your garden is to stop them before they take root. Knowing how to prevent weeds means understanding the task is not a one-time job, but rather a continual garden chore. But even those who pull weeds begrudgingly do so knowing that preventing weeds as they appear, or quickly after they’ve sprouted, takes a lot less time than removing an established weed infestation. Consider taking the following steps for a weed free gardening experience.
How to Prevent Weeds
If you water the entire garden, open spaces will become the perfect breeding ground for weeds. Deprive weeds of water by using a soaker hose to add moisture just where it’s needed – at the base of garden plants. By only watering these areas, you narrow down where weeds may pop up.
When’s the best time to pull a weed? Yesterday. When’s the second best time? Now.
It’s an old joke, but there’s actually a lot of truth to it – the earlier you eliminate a weed, the less of a chance there is for it to multiply and take over the entire garden.
It can seem endless, but consistently weeding your garden will pay off. For every weed remove before it goes to seed, you effectively eliminate hundreds of its offspring. Commit to a weeding schedule and stick to it. The perfect time for weeding is while the soil is moist and plants are young. Gently pull weeds at their base (disturbing as little soil as possible) and discard away from the garden. If you encounter difficult roots, insert a sharp knife or Cape Cod weeder into the ground to sever the weed from its roots without disturbing the ground or mulch around it.
If you’re looking for how to stop weeds from growing in the first place, consider a chemical option. Pre-emergent herbicides stop weed seeds from germinating. They’re tailored to target specific combinations of weeds or weed families. Simply apply the pre-emergent to your garden before the weed seeds begin to germinate – in early spring or after cultivating. Pre-emergent is activated by water, so after treating the area, be sure to give it a good soak with Gilmour’s EZ Click Control Watering Nozzle set on the garden setting. The water application draws the herbicide down to the seed level for the best results.