The Best Landscape Fabrics of 2023 - Top Picks by Bob Vila

By Heather Blackmore and Timothy Dale | Updated Jun 16, 2023 1:31 PM

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The Best Landscape Fabrics of 2023 - Top Picks by Bob Vila

Whether we like it or not, weeds are part of every landscape, competing with your trees, shrubs, and flowers for vital nutrients. Landscape fabric could be your golden ticket to a weed-free landscape.

By acting as a physical barrier between the soil and the sun, landscape fabric prevents seeds from seeing the light of day while still allowing air and water to penetrate to the roots of the plants you do want. Here are some important features to consider when selecting the best landscape fabric, as well as our top weed barrier picks for your landscape.

In vegetable and flower gardens, gardeners frequently move or change plants, and access to the soil is vital to the health of the garden. Landscape fabric laid across the entire area would make amending the soil very difficult, if not impossible.

Instead, consider using it in the vegetable garden for weed suppression between rows. Soil that’s been covered with landscape fabric compacts over time as a result of the reduced earthworm population and poor aeration in these areas. Landscape fabric is best used beneath walkways or in areas with permanent trees and shrubs or no future planting plans.

Extensive research that covered more than 30 different landscaping fabric products helped form the basis for the selection of the best landscape fabrics. However, to properly assess each product, it was necessary to take into account the size, material, thickness, and overall quality of each landscape fabric.

The size of each landscape fabric product was crucial information to have because the size is the primary factor that influences the price. The larger the landscape fabric, the higher the price. Given that landscape fabrics are separated into three different types, the material was the next aspect to consider. Most products were made with woven fabric, though there were a few standout nonwoven fabric options as well.

The durability of the product often comes down to the thickness, so for more heavy-duty jobs, it is necessary to find a thick weed barrier landscape fabric that can hold the weight without tearing. Some preference was given to products that were made for specific jobs, like increasing stability on a gravel path or serving as an underlay for artificial grass.

The right weed barrier landscape fabric makes keeping weeds in check much easier. Here are a few to consider if you’ve decided a weed control barrier is necessary for your landscape.

If the goal is to find a durable, nonwoven fabric for any landscape situation, the Hoople garden weed barrier fits the bill. Because it is two to three times thicker (at 5 ounces per square yard) than some other landscape fabrics, it tends to drain more slowly than those thinner options in heavy rainfall.

Still, the fabric remains highly permeable in average precipitation. The nonwoven fabric is durable enough to withstand the pressure of brick pavers and heavy stone, though it can also be used under gravel or mulch to add attractive layers to the landscape.

Whether the landscaping fabric is covered with mulch or not, ultraviolet (UV) stabilizers prevent it from rotting when exposed to direct sunlight, so you can rely on this landscape fabric to prevent weed growth for years. This roll measures 180 feet long by 32 inches wide, though it comes in other widths and lengths.

Get the Hoople landscape fabric at Amazon.

Those who need a budget-friendly weed barrier fabric can rely on this heavy-duty option from Petgrow. This fabric provides ample irrigation for plants and flowers with its needle-punched design and is made with chemical-free and corrosion-resistant polypropylene.

For users’ convenience, this UV-stabilized landscape fabric is 100 feet long by 3 feet wide but comes in many other sizes depending on the amount of land and garden space that needs to be covered. Plus, this weed barrier fabric has a 3.8-ounce thickness for weed control. Finally, this fabric is made with UV-stabilized materials to prevent any burning and sun damage.

Get the Petgrow landscape fabric at Amazon.

The lightweight woven fabric of DeWitt weed barrier landscape fabric is impressively durable with a guaranteed lifespan of up to 12 years before it needs to be removed and replaced. This landscape fabric roll measures 50 feet long by 4 feet wide, which is an excellent size for small garden beds, while the thickness of 1.5 ounces per square yard is suitable for low-traffic areas.

Despite the UV-resistant coating, this landscape fabric requires a layer of mulch after installation to protect it from direct sun exposure. Unlike other weed barriers prone to unraveling, DeWitt weed barrier fabric won’t fray when cut and has had hydrophilic treatment to allow for maximum water, air, and nutrient penetration. The fabric minimizes light penetration, which helps suppress weed growth.

Get the DeWitt landscape fabric at Amazon.

The thick, dual-layered, needle-punched fabric of the ECOgardener Premium weed barrier allows for optimal air and water circulation so that the plants in the garden can thrive while weed seeds are prevented from sprouting. Made of perforated woven polypropylene, this fabric is safe for the environment, ensuring that rain and snow runoff won’t release chemicals into the soil.

At just 5 pounds, the 50-foot-long by 3-foot-wide roll is lightweight and easy to install, though it’s still important to put landscape pins about once every foot to keep the landscape fabric secure. Because it’s untreated for sun exposure, it’s damaged easily by the sun, and anyone installing the weed barrier should cover the fabric with mulch immediately after installation. Leaving the fabric exposed to the sun will shorten its lifespan.

Get the ECOgardener landscape fabric at Amazon.

When the toughness of nonwoven fabrics is combined with the permeability of perforated landscape weed barriers, the result is an incredibly strong and versatile hybrid. Made of nonwoven polypropylene, the thick needle-punched fabric in Flarmor weed barrier is highly permeable and equally effective beneath rocks and landscape beds, with a thickness of 1.8 ounces per square yard.

This fabric is also a great choice for covering sloped areas for weed and erosion control. However, Flarmor weed blocker will degrade quickly under direct sunlight, so it requires a covering of mulch or rock right after installation. The product comes in a 300-foot-long by 3-foot-wide roll, which is best suited for big jobs to minimize leftovers. It is also available in a 50-foot-long by 3-foot-wide size as well as several additional sizes so you can choose the most suitable length based on the size of the project.

The nonwoven fabric should not fray when cut, which adds to its lifespan. However, reapply mulch or gravel if the fabric becomes exposed to sunlight or it can deteriorate quickly.

Get the Flarmor landscape fabric at Amazon.

Dinner leftovers might be good for lunch the next day, but too much unused landscape fabric from a small project is frustrating. Unlike most fabric rolls that come in minimum lengths of 50 feet or more, the Agtek landscape fabric gives users smaller options so they don’t have to buy more than needed.

The smallest choice comes in a two-pack of 8-foot-long by 4-foot-wide pieces, but this product is also sold in a two-pack of 12-foot-long by 4-foot-wide pieces for slightly larger patios, playgrounds, or gardens. The heavy-duty woven polypropylene fabric drains well and it’s UV stabilized for impressive sun resistance. This product’s thickness of 3.8 ounces per square yard is best for use beneath walkways, in playground areas, and on slopes to prevent erosion.

Get the Agtek landscape fabric at Amazon.

Gardens are meant to be enjoyed, but when it’s necessary to spend hours pulling weeds every week, a garden can soon seem like more work than it’s worth. Take back the garden and hardscape areas of the yard with this GDNaid weed barrier. It is made at a thickness of 1.8 ounces per square yard in a nonwoven polypropylene fabric.

The product comes in multiple sizes, though the most suitable for a large space is the 300-foot-long by 3-foot-wide option that allows you to protect up to 900 square feet of garden, path, or patio.

Many products require you to cover them with decorative mulch, gravel, or crushed stone to prevent damage from the sun, but it isn’t necessary with this landscape fabric due to the UV-stabilized polypropylene material. The nonwoven fabric is not as permeable as woven or perforated fabric, so it may not be the best choice for lush garden plants that need a lot of water.

Get the GDNaid landscape fabric at Amazon.

While most landscape fabrics are put to use in the garden to help prevent weeds from sprouting up among the vegetables or flowers, ArmorLay nonwoven landscape fabric is designed for use under gravel paths, patios, and driveways. It serves the usual purpose of landscape fabric by preventing the growth of weeds, but this product also improves the stability of the ground.

Installing this layer of landscape fabric under a gravel path can minimize the damage caused by falling rain, sleet, and snow, protecting the soil from erosion and preventing potholes from forming. It’s about 8 ounces per square yard thick and measures 60 feet long by 12.5 feet wide, though multiple sizes are available.

Just keep in mind that the nonwoven construction has low water permeability, so this product is not a great option for garden beds.

Get the ArmorLay landscape fabric at Amazon.

Choosing the best landscape fabric for weed control is not a tough decision, but choices can vary based on the size of the job, foot traffic, whether you will cover the fabric, and the intended use of the area you’re protecting.

Often made of polypropylene or linen, woven landscaping fabric is the most common weed barrier best suited for flower beds and 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.

Generally, the thicker the landscape fabric, the more it costs. Choose thicker barriers in gravel areas like pathways where rocks can wear away thinner fabrics over time. Tough weeds also are worth considering, since some—like thistle—can grow through weak barriers.

Avoid heavy weed barriers around vegetables, herbs, and annuals because their roots can lie close to the surface and can be crushed beneath the weight. Choose thinner, perforated options for these applications.

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.

Avoid overbuying by estimating the amount of landscape fabric you’ll need to complete your project. Rolls usually are available in widths of 3 feet or more and in lengths of 50 to 300 feet. Based on the area you’re covering, determine the best length and width for the job. Factor in the 8-inch overlap recommended between layers in wider areas that require multiple pieces of fabric.

In a perfect world, laying landscape fabric would be a one-and-done job. It’s not hard to do, but it is time-consuming and difficult to repeat when aged landscape fabric needs to be replaced around an established landscape. Selecting the right weed barrier for the right application is key to getting the biggest bang for your buck.

Some weed barriers estimate how long you can expect the product to last in your landscape. Longevity depends on a number of factors, including temperature, application, exposure, and moisture specific to the area where it’s installed.

When you are adding landscaping fabric to a garden bed, it’s important to take the time to remove all weeds and mix in any compost or soil nutrients that you want to add to the soil before installing the landscaping fabric. Once you have pinned down landscape fabric, it is best not to pull it back up.

In addition, you should use a rake or hoe to properly smooth the soil so that the landscaping fabric lays completely flat. Otherwise, it can become difficult to fully cover the fabric with mulch or gravel due to peaks and folds in the fabric.

Landscaping fabric is typically secured with pins that pierce the fabric and hold it to the ground, like stakes for a tent. Install these pins once every foot or so to help ensure that the landscape fabric will not be pulled up by scavenging animals or washed out of place in heavy rain.

Landscape fabrics aren’t always easy to install, but these weed barriers help to protect flower beds and prevent weed growth. Keep reading to find the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about weed barrier landscape fabric.

Landscape fabric is typically separated based on the type of material used to make the product. These types include woven, perforated, and nonwoven landscaping fabric.

Each type has its own benefits depending on the application, so think about whether you are looking to protect a flower bed, vegetable garden, or a walkway when deciding on the best weed control solution for your next landscaping project.

Landscape fabric is designed to block out UV radiation as well as prevent weed seeds from growing, but this weed barrier fabric allows water and some air to pass through. This is possible due to the construction of the fabric.

Even thick and durable fabric is either woven or has perforated holes to allow water to seep into the ground, though it should be noted that some fabrics can greatly reduce the flow of water, leading to standing puddles after big rainstorms.

Filter fabric is a similar product to landscape fabric, but it’s usually thinner and doesn’t have the same UV resistance, leaving it susceptible to premature degradation. To protect your flower beds, invest in thick and durable fabric that will be able to block the weeds and stand up to the sun and rain.

In most cases, landscape fabric is laid down and secured over the soil in a garden or around the base of a tree or bush in the yard. After the installation, you can put mulch on top of the landscape fabric to protect the fabric from foot traffic and UV rays. You also can use gravel or crushed rock as the top layer.

The purpose of landscape fabric is to prevent weed growth. This is achieved by pulling all the weeds in the garden and then installing landscaping fabric directly over the soil. Some users also put sand or gravel underneath the landscaping fabric to help level the ground, though this isn’t necessary. This is especially true since mulch, gravel, and crushed stone are often spread over the top of the fabric.

Bob Vila has been America’s Handyman since 1979. As the host of beloved and groundbreaking TV series including “This Old House” and “Bob Vila’s Home Again,” he popularized and became synonymous with “do-it-yourself” home improvement.

Over the course of his decades-long career, Bob Vila has helped millions of people build, renovate, repair, and live better each day—a tradition that continues today with expert yet accessible home advice. The Bob Vila team distills need-to-know information into project tutorials, maintenance guides, tool 101s, and more. These home and garden experts then thoroughly research, vet, and recommend products that support homeowners, renters, DIYers, and professionals in their to-do lists.

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The Best Landscape Fabrics of 2023 - Top Picks by Bob Vila

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