Best Weed Membrane – 17 Fabric and Heavy Duty Versions

What is a Weed Control Membrane?

There is nothing rocket science about  a weed control membrane. It’s just a sheet of material that covers bare soil whilst letting water and nutrients pass through which inhibits the growth of unwanted weeds without the need for weed killer & harsh chemicals.

Plants can be then planted through slits made with a sharp knife or covered with mulch of gravel or bark.

Easily cut with pair of scissors (just don’t use your best ones) and held down with plastic or metal pegs, a weed control membrane is great at preventing unwanted weeds, giving an enjoyable, easy to maintain garden.

All weeds start off as a seed and are normally blown into your yard with the wind. Seeds can also lay dormant in  earth for years only to appear as weeds, jump into growth and smother your plants once the ground has been cultivated. A decent  weed control fabric will go along way to help control weeds.

Our Recommended Best Weed Membranes for Preventing Weeds

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The Different Types available  to Prevent Weed Growth

For home owners, gardeners and landscapers there are two different types of weed barrier available. Fabric and woven geotextile. Woven geotextile being the more robust, and durable of either . Both types allow water and nutrients to permeate through and effective at stopping weeds from growing .

best weed membrane fabricLandscape fabric membranes for weeds

Weed control fabric is the most economical of the two types. Made from fabric that feels like felt, often described as ‘non-woven’.

The thickness of the barrier is sold referring to its gsm. The heavier the gsm the better it will be at suppressing weeds.

Beware of cheap membranes. They often offer no weather resistance and tear quite easily.

This type has a shorter life span and  not as durable as the geotextile landscaping barriers .

In our experience, depending on the quality expect between 3-5 years before the fabric needs replacing. Listed below are our best  weed control fabrics on our list of best membranes.


best heavy duty weed membrane

WOVEN POLYPROPYLENE WEED MEMBRANES

If your budget allows and you want the best weed control membrane for the garden then we recommend a woven geotextile membrane, often referred to as woven polypropylene, woven mesh or Geotextile.

Like the previous version, these heavyweight alternatives allow rain water and nutrients to permeate through but block all light from the earth below to stop weeds growing. 


 

How To Lay Membrane Properly

Installation is simple enough for anyone to perform in the garden without calling in the professionals. Either type of permeable membrane can be bought folded or on a roll. Different lengths and widths available.

Correct Site Preparation.

Simply clear the soil, proposed path or under new decking of all existing weeds and sharp stones.

It is important to level the soil as much as possible in preparation for the weed control membrane as bumps and lumps will show though the topping of your choice.

Laying it out for installation.

To lay weed control fabric simply unroll the membrane over the bare soil to be covered . With a sharp pair of scissors or sharp knife cut the membrane to the length and width necessary .

Printed lines on woven versions make this easy to keep straight lines when cutting an edge. If using one that does not have lines then a long straight edge can be handy if used at the same time with a stanley knife.

It is best to pull the weed membrane taught as you go and secure the weed membrane by overlapping the edges by 10cm with pegs. Pulling the weed membrane will keep it close to the ground making them more effective.

Planting through the weed membrane.

It doesn’t take much effort , planting through a weed control fabric is a simple enough task. Cut an X, slightly larger than the diameter of the plant pot with a Stanley knife, fold back edges and plant in the space made. 

It is a good idea to have a trug to hand to place the excavated soil from the planting hole whilst putting in the plants. Leaving soil on top of the

A  weed membrane is better suited for a shrub border and under gravel, decking, paths and front gardens to prevent weeds.

What To Put On-Top of Weed Membrane to Make it More Attractive

It is best practice once you have installed your garden weed membrane and held it down securely with membrane pegs to put a generous layer of landscaping bark , gravel or slate chippings on top of the membrane (not the soil).

This added weight keeps the weed membrane held firmly down. This stops it lifting in high winds and protects it from direct & strong sunlight.

This makes the garden look attractive, showing the planting off to its best in borders and raised beds.

What to look for when buying

It is really important to ensure it allows water and nutrients to pass through. All listed above do just that. I have seen some that are just a heavy sheet of black plastic sheeting. Keep away! This will just lead to garden flooding.

GSM stands for grams per square metre. The higher the gsm number, the more durable membrane it will be. A thick membrane is far better than a thin one. The best weed membranes tend be have a gsm over 100

If not top dressing the weed membrane with a mulch then look for a version that is UV Resistant if exposed to direct sunlight. Constant exposure to UV rays will shorth the life of the landscape fabric, making it less effective in stopping weed growth. Choose one that offers UV protection

What weeds will it stop from growing?

Having the best weed control fabric will be effective in suppressing nearly all garden weeds with the exception of Japanese Knotweed & Horsetail. These 2 weeds will make light work of poking up through woven membranes.

Seek professional guidance when trying to eliminate these unwanted visitors, you could end up making the problem worse.

The Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Permanent solution for keeping weeds controlled
  • Chemical free alternative – Eliminate the need for harsh chemicals
  • Stops surface soil erosion
  • Can be planted into and used on vegetable patches & flower beds
  • Makes for a smart garden with a layer of mulch on the surface. Ornamental bark or gravel look great for this
  • Can be used under decking ,block paving, artificial grass, acting as a separation layer between the sand and hardcore base

Cons

  • Made from a polypropylene material
  • Can lift up and look unsightly if not properly secured with pegs
  • If using on a garden border, digging in manure will not be possible once installed. A liquid plant feed will be necessary.
  • Long term use can damage the soils structure – earthworms avoid areas under weed membranes

Do I need a woven or landscape fabric under gravel?

In short. YES! A weed control membrane is essential for stopping the gravel disappearing into the soil and ground below.

Ensure securing pegs are used when using under gravel. If not used, over time, the weed membrane can appear through gravel and look unsightly.

The recommended minimum depth of gravel should be 50mm (5cm) placed over a heavy duty membrane. Any less depth and the membrane will be noticeable.

If using on a drive way then the heaviest duty, woven fabric is essential.

Can I lay weed membrane over grass?

Yes! However if looking to kill the grass in the quickest time I would recommend using a tarpaulin or heavy, solid plastic sheet.

Weed control membranes allow air and water pass through which will lengthen the time taken to kill off the plant growth, however it will work over time.

Does weed membrane allow water though?

Yes. If either, weed control fabric or woven membranes are used they will offer good drainage, allowing water and nutrients to pass through to the ground whilst suppressing weeds.

Do I need to use one under bark and wood chips?

Not necessarily. If wanting to mulch with bark and wood chips then a generous layer (7 – 10cm deep) placed directly on the ground will control and suppress weeds in the flower bed without the need for weed control membranes.

It is not as effective as using weed membranes but will reduce unwanted visitors (weeds) considerably.

Which is the best to use with artificial grass?

It is best to use a weed control fabric rather than a woven version for use under astroturf.

Which weed barrier is best to use with plants?

Both are great when used in borders and flower beds, however a heavy duty fabric is my preferred choice. They allow a greater amount of air to flow to the ground below, essential for your plants to thrive.#

Both versions cut well but woven versions tend to fray around the edges which could look unsightly if not properly covered with a mulch.

How to lay directly underneath gravel?

It is fairly straight forward when laying directly underneath gravelled areas. For best results follow our guide to laying under slate chippings