Last updated on August 11th, 2023
Our site is reader supported, this means we may earn a small commission from Amazon and other affiliates when you buy through links on our site.
Over the years, I’ve installed thousands of square meters of weed control fabric, mostly in our family nursery inside the large polytunnels and greenhouses. However, I’ve also installed it under the gravel paths and driveways for clients over the years as part of the landscaping part of our family’s business.
I can tell you that the key to a long-lasting surface that prevents weeds is using the best weed control fabric. Two of my favourites are this non-woven polypropylene weed control fabric by GardenMate or this GroundMaster Heavy Duty Weed Control Fabric. This, combined with fitting the fabric properly and good preparation, which I also discuss further down is key.
Firstly, you need to clear the area weeds or kill them before covering the ground with weed control fabric. Now I’ve reviewed many tools for removing weeds, including weed pullers which are great for large deep-rooted weeds.
One of the best ways to clear the area of weeds is to treat it with a strong weedkiller a few weeks before you plan on laying the membrane down. I use Gallup Glyphosate Weed Killer, which is the strongest weedkiller available for domestic use.
However, it’s as strong as professional weedkillers, and we use it around the nursery. Ideally, you then remove the dead weeds, level the surface if needed and lay the weed control fabric. If you have very tall weeds, try to plan ahead and trim the weeds down with a good strimmer. Let the weeds grow again for a few weeks and then blast them with weedkiller onto the fresh growth.
If you have brambles, use a brush cutter then a strong weedkiller. Planning is key!
When it comes to choosing the best weed control fabric, you have woven fabrics and un-woven fabrics. Both are good choices. What you really need to consider more is the gsm rating which stands for grams per square metre which is the weight of the fabric. In general, you want the fabric to be at least 100gsm. This will be durable, strong, rip-resistant and up to the job. If you see weed control fabric in discount stores, check this rating, it’s usually only 50gsm which won’t last two minutes. Don’t waste your money!
First, I had to mention this non-woven polypropylene weed control fabric by GardenMate. It’s 150 gsm, so it’s very durable, and it’s UV treated. Basiclly, it’s without a doubt the best weed control fabric. It’s a little more expensive per square meter, but I think it’s worth every penny. For gravel driveways, this is the only fabric I recommend as it can handle the weight of cars without wearing through under the gravel. However, it’s still a great choice for all types of landscaping jobs as it is also easy to work with a shape. Do it right, do it once!
If you want a slightly more affordable alturnative or are using it inside a polytunnel or greenhouse. This GroundMaster Heavy Duty Weed Control Fabric is rated at 100 gsm and is well worth considering. We’ve used this in some of our tunnels a few years back in the nursery because it drains quickly and is still durable enough to take heavy walking on without being covered. It’s also easy to brush and clean up too. However, it’s also an excellent choice for under paths, gravel patios, and before installing a shed base. Again it’s very durable at 150gsm and UV protected. If you want to use it inside a greenhouse to walk on uncovered, maybe also consider this Lita Weed Control Fabric, as it has a slightly stronger 120gsm rating. For most other uses, this GroundMaster fabric is ideal.
When it comes to preparation, you need to get the ground as level as possible. This is especially important for paths and driveways before you cover the fabric with gravel or bark chips. This will not only save you money as you won’t be filling holes and dips with expensive decorative gravel like harvest gold. You want to get a nice, even surface. It can be sloped; you don’t want it to be all uneven if you have an area that sometimes pools after heavy rain. It’s well worth using a garden fork to create drainage holes and help improve drainage. A spiked scarifier is also suitable for this and is much faster.
Just remember, even after installing weed control fabric. Although the weeds will be suppressed if installed correctly. Seeds will still blow onto the surface of the covered area, germinate and grow on top of the fabric. When you start to see seedlings, I use a knapsack garden sprayer and treat them with weedkiller. A pet friendly weedkiller will do the job. This will control these weeds before they establish and keep the area clear of weeds.
With that out of the way, here are the detailed reviews of my recommendations.
6 Best Weed Control Fabric Reviews
1. GardenMate 2m x 15m Weed Control Fabric – 150gsm
For me, you can’t really beat this non-woven type polypropylene fabric by GardenMate, and straight off I will say I think it’s well worth the extra cost. It’s on another level when compared to woven fabrics, which the majority of weed control fabrics are made from. The only exception when I wouldn’t use this is when it’s not covered. For me, this is on the floor of polytunnels and greenhouses. The reason for this is that it drains much more slowly and does tend to pool. However, it does drain away just not as quickly as woven fabrics. We notice this in polytunnels because the water sprinklers produce a lot of water when watering, but outdoors under normal weather conditions, you wouldn’t notice this.
When this GardenMate weed control fabric really comes into its own is when used under gravel and just outdoors in general. This could include gravel paths, driveways, underneith shed bases, and flower beds. Basically, it’s the heavier 150gsm rating and proven durability that makes it probably the best weed control membrane, and this is because it is unwoven. This means it’s much harder for weeds to push through, but it’s also less likely to wear under gravel and heavy traffic. This is why it’s also the best choice for under gravel driveways or paths that are heavily used.
Basically, if you are looking for a good quality strong membrane that won’t rip under the stone floor, or you are looking for more heavy-duty fabric for under driveways (for example) that will last, then this is well worth using.
Whether you want to use it for decking or flowerbeds, under a gravel driveway or path, this UV-stable membrane is probably the best choice.
As I briefly mentioned, it is a breathable and water-permeable fabric, allowing water and other nutrients to get to the soil, obviously crucial for flowerbeds, rockeries or vegetable patches. There are a complete set of instructions provided to help you lay the membrane to help you achieve the best results.
- One of the best weed control membranes for under gravel and stone.
- It is made from durable but, more importantly, ‘un-woven’ 150gsm polypropylene so is very strong and long-lasting.
- It is breathable and water-permeable.
- Light enough for easier manoeuvrability while still being heavy-duty.
- Easy to use while cutting as it does not fray.
This GardenMate Weed Control Fabric is a premium quality product that performs well and for most jobs, this is what I would use. This is what we have used for clients over the years as it lasts and is very effective.
If you have gravel paths and, more importantly, gravel driveways, this is the best option. Even for flowerbeds and gravel paths, I always recommend going for the best quality to avoid problems further down the line.
What makes this membrane a little more remarkable is that it is made from non-woven fabric, and that is why it doesn’t fray when cut, and the 150 gsm rating ensures it does not easily rip either.
Overall, if I had to recommend just one weed control fabric, this would have to be it. The only exception to this is if used inside a polytunnel or greenhouse. For this, your best going with 100gsm GroundMaster Heavy Duty Weed Control Fabric as it’s more permeable and lets the water pass through more quickly to avoid pooling.
2. GroundMaster Heavy Duty Weed Control Fabric (100gsm) – choice for sizes
Suppose I’m not using my favourite, the durable Gardenmate 150gsm non-woven underlay fabric, and need something that is more permeable as non-woven fabrics have very slow permeability. In that case, this GroundMaster Heavy Duty Weed Control Fabric (100gsm) is what I would go for. The only other material I think is worth considering is probably the Lita weed control fabric, as it is 125 gsm.
However, in the real world, there is not much in it. GroundMaster has a good reputation in the horticultural industry. We have personally used it for the floors of our polytunnels and greenhouses on the nursery and can confidently say it last for years, even in heavy-traffic areas. We, and by we, I mean on our family nursery, use it as the floor laid over the top of a level bed of sand. It drains freely, so we don’t get the pools of water like the non-woven fabrics.
While this GroundMaster fabric isn’t quite as thick as some of the other choices in my review, it’s certainly strong enough at 100gsm for most jobs in the garden. Something important, especially if left uncovered, as we have done on the nursery, is that it has a UV coating on the fabric that prevents it from becoming brittle from sunlight. This is still an important consideration, even if you plan on covering the fabric with wood chips or gravel. You want the fabric to remain supple and strong for the most durability, which this fabric does.
Evenly spaced-lines are marked across the fabric. These help you to cut the fabric straight and in regular shapes. They also help you to lay the fabric down with even overlays. As this is a tear-resistant but woven material, you must cut it with scissors as it will fray slightly, as all woven weed membranes do. I fold over the cut side before pinning it with staples to give a clean edge.
This brand of weed control fabric is also available in many other sizes, including 1m by 5m and 5m by 10m (with 50 pegs) and every size in between.
- Thick 100gsm weed control fabric of woven polypropylene is available in many lengths and widths.
- Ideal for using uncovered, such as in polytunnels and covers under gravel or bark on paths and flower beds.
- UV stabilised so it won’t become brittle in the sun, making it ideal to use uncovered.
- Ideal for many uses, from pathways, driveways, plant beds, decking, and rough ground.
- Lines across the fabric assist in cutting the fabric straight and placing it evenly.
- Permeable to water so the rain or nutrients passes through to the ground beneath and doesn’t puddle up.
- It can be ordered with pegs if needed.
This GroundMaster Heavy Duty Weed Control Fabric (100gsm) is what I would use if not using the Gardenmate 150gsm non-woven underlay fabric. If you’re taking price into consideration, for larger areas, you will also find it saves you some money, as it’s more affordable. What I do like about this over the more expensive non-woven fabrics is that water can drain through it quickly. This makes it great for use on floors of polytunnels as it doesn’t pool after the sprinklers have been on.
Overall, it’s excellent if you have just the regular run-of-the-mill weeds in your garden and need some decent fabric to lay before covering it with gravel or bark, especially on paths where you need that extra durability. You can get away with something a little more lightweight on flower beds if you want to save some money. I always recommend going for the best weed control fabric within your budget, as some of the cheaper alternatives might only last 18 months, think fabrics from B&M and cheap pound stores. It’s not worth it! This fabric will be good for you if laid properly.
3. GardenGloss Weed Control Membrane (100gsm)
This GardenGloss 100gsm Weed Control Membrane is an excellent alternative to the GroundMaster fabric I reviewed earlier. To be honest, it’s tough to tell them apart. It’s, maybe, slightly less permeable than the GroundMaster fabric. I say this because the water seems to drain more slowly. However, nothing noticeable, especially once covered if used under stone or bark.
Like most fabrics, it is a woven polypropylene that lets water and nutrients through to the soil beneath. This means that there’s no puddling up of liquid on the surface of the fabric around the plants, or if it does, it soon drains away. If it doesn’t, and this goes for most weed control fabrics, then your ground could be too compact. If you know this beforehand, I always recommend putting a fork in the ground like you would aerate your lawn to help improve drainage before laying the fabric.
When it comes to UV protection, the material is also treated as protection from the harmful UV rays that make it age quickly and become brittle. This adds to the durability and long life of the material.
Just remember to have a sharp pair of sissors handy.
- Weed control fabric of woven polypropylene which is perfect for under flower beds and paths, as was a polytunnel and greenhouse floors.
- Thick materials rating of 100gsm means it is extra durable as well as UV protected.
- Available in many different widths and lengths
- Useful for rock gardens, vegetable beds, flower beds, under decking, driveways and so on.
- Tear-resistant for extra durability and longer life span.
- Has evenly spaced lines throughout the fabric to make it easy to measure and fold.
- Full refund within 30 days if not satisfied for complete peace of mind.
This GardenGloss 100gsm Weed Control Membrane is a great option for most jobs and another alturnative to the GroundMaster fabric I reviewed earlier. Use it under paths, driveways and decks or to keep the weeds down in flowers or polytunnels. At 100gsm, it’s not the heaviest weed control material. However, it does the job and is reasonably good quality.
4. Lita 10m x 1m Weed Control Fabric Membrane – 125gsm
The Lita Weed Control Fabric is a good choice and a good alternative to the GroundMaster Heavy Duty Weed Control Fabric for preventing weed growth. It is slightly thicker at 120gsm but not really that noticeable. However, it is a good choice for most jobs and is often what professionals would choose as it’s not too expensive but is still durable with a good 125gsm rating. This puts it in between the GardenMate 150gsm fabric and the GroundMaster 100gsm fabric in terms of quality. This is what we have also used in some of the polytunnels and greenhouses because it’s affordable and can handle heavy foot traffic. This also made it easy to brush the tunnels clean, and it lasted for many years. I don’t remember having to replace it anyway, but I can say the same about the GroundMaster fabric too.
As you would expect, this membrane has been UV treated to remain indestructible in the sun for up to 5 years. This means if you do intend to use it as a floor and not covered (meaning it’s exposed to the sun) this is a good choice.
It is made from polypropylene that has been punched with needles to allow water and air to pass through; this way, the soil stays moisturised. Like most membranes, it has lines to help with cutting, and it does not fray, thus suitable for gardens, underneath artificial grass, underneath gravel driveways, and on paths—pretty much all jobs.
- It is made from heavy-duty polypropylene and used by professionals.
- A good combination of quality and affordability makes it a good choice for large areas.
- The fabric is UV stable for up to 5 years.
- Needle punched to allow water and air through to the soil.
- Easy to use.
If you do not want to purchase a whole roll of weed membrane and are looking for a professional-grade membrane, then this Lita 10m x 1m Weed Control Fabric is well worth considering.
It comes already pre-cut to the prescribed size, and all you need to do is lay it down and cut it as you require. This membrane is designed for professional use; hence you can expect it to be hardwearing and UV-stabilised for at least five years. It is an affordable option for those who want a quality membrane that will last.
5. Novout 2m x 10m Weed Control Fabric – 100gsm
The Novout 2m x 10m Weed Control Fabric is light but durable and similar to the other woven weed control fabrics reviewed above. It is made from UV stable polypropylene, so it can withstand the elements and is reasonably good quality with a 100gsm rating. The woven fabric has lines that make it easy to cut straight lines, which is handy if you are looking for a neater result.
It is water permeable and breathable; you can be sure that your plants will remain healthy, and you will have no issues with pooling or water running off and not penetrating through.
You can use this weed control fabric on your paths and flowerbeds, among other surfaces. However, it wouldn’t be my first choice for underneath a gravel driveway because the constant weight can cause it to rip over time. For pathways though, it’s more than good enough. It is supplied with securing pegs to ensure that the fabric is well secured, which is also handy as not all membranes come with pegs, and these can be expensive to buy separately.
- It is made from durable, lightweight fabric.
- The polypropylene material used is light but durable at 100 gsm.
- Comes with printed lines for straight cuts.
- It allows water, air and other nutrients to get to the soil.
- Gives good value for money as it is supplied with securing pegs.
The Novout 2m x 10m Weed Control Fabric is a suitable option for those looking for mid-range quality fabric, not too thin but not the most heavy-duty, giving it an affordable price point. It is excellent for large jobs.
Overall, I found that it offers good value for money as it is durable enough to serve for many years, I would choose a higher gsm rating for driveways.
Read next: How to prevent weeds from growing
6. Ansio 2m x 15m Weed Control Membrane – 90gsm
Finally, I have included this Ansio 2m x 15m Weed Control Membrane. It is another affordable option for those looking for a light membrane. The 90 gsm polypropylene fabric is of good quality, and it is guaranteed to prevent weeds from coming through. I wouldn’t go any lighter than this, you can get 50gsm but it’s not recommended as its just too thin.
You can use it for small jobs, and it’s slightly more durable than the cheap alternatives you find at discount stores which I always stay away from.
- It is made from good quality polypropylene fabric.
- Tough but easy to cut.
- It is UV-treated to enhance durability.
- Offers good value for money.
The Ansio 2m x 15m Weed Control Membrane is a lightweight fabric you can purchase to care for different landscaping and gardening needs.
For a light material, it performs well in keeping weeds from seeping through. You may avoid cutting through the fabric too much as it frays. Overall, it’s a budget-friendly option.
Buyer’s Guide to choosing weed control fabric
The best weed control fabric is typically made from polypropylene because it is an affordable material that is moisture resistant. This material can be woven or non-woven, depending on what you are looking for. There are other factors to look for when shopping for the best weed membranes available, that I will discuss these below.
The density of the fabric
The density of the fabric will affect its durability and is probably the most crucial consideration. The denser the fabric, the more it is likely to survive the sun, not be penetrated by gravel or stone, and last longer.
Thicker membranes also give weeds a hard time piercing through the surface. Lightweight membranes are suitable too; it’s just that they don’t last as long as the thicker membranes. For example, my Best Pick by GardenMate has a dense fabric of 150gsm and so is designed to last, a lay it only once type of product.
Do you have plants within the area, or are you setting up a driveway? You want a fabric with good water permeability to prevent water from pooling on the surface and allow the soil to get some nutrients. Non-woven membranes are preferred over woven ones because they are more water permeable. If you are buying membranes for gardening, then high water permeability is recommended
You want to prevent the weeds from growing, but you don’t want to stifle the soil of its air and nutrients. You need a breathable fabric that will allow the soil to breathe and the plants to get their nutrients through the water coming in.
The durability of the fabric
Although many of the weed membranes on the market are UV stable, some are more durable than others. There are manufacturers whose products are guaranteed to remain UV stable for a long time.
A good example is the Lita 10m x 1m Weed Control Fabric Membrane that can serve up to 5 years without considerable sun damage. Select a weed membrane that is of good quality so that it can serve you for longer.
You want to consider the size of the area you want to cover. If you are working with a large area, buying a roll is easier as it is friendlier to your budget. If you are working in a small area, a membrane that has already been cut will serve you well, and all you need to do is purchase what you need. We always recommend going for the same width as the covered area. So if your area is 2 metres wide, choose a 2m wide fabric and not two 1m wide fabrics.
Ease of cut
We have heard many customers complain of weed membranes that fray so badly that they are unusable. To avoid this, you either work with the non-woven membranes that do not fray or, you work with sharp scissors to create seams. The seams can be folded over slightly and secured to the ground with pegs to avoid further fraying.
Guiding lines are useful when working with woven weed membranes because they act as a guide to produce straight lines and avoid messes.
Are thicker membranes better than thinner membranes?
In aspects of durability, yes, they are. However, in terms of water permeability, thinner membranes are more suitable, although even the thickest membranes have good permeability. It all depends on what you are using the membranes for and the thickness that would work accordingly.
Why is it recommended to use mulch?
Mulch is recommended while working with thin membranes as it helps preserve the weed membrane. The sun can hit the mulch. Hence the membrane is not in direct contact with the sun. This helps in elongating the service life of the membrane.
Does the ground need to be prepared before laying the weed membrane?
Yes. This is very important in preventing the weeds from re-growing and piercing the membrane. There are various steps to take when preparing the area, depending on the soil type you have. Some manufacturers send instructions on preparing the ground before commencing to lay the membrane properly. Basically, lay your membrane on sand if possible, and when using on flowerbeds, ensure there are no sharp stones underneath.
Are weed membranes environmentally friendly?
Yes, they are. They contain few production chemicals, and they are not bad for the environment. They beat the use of pesticides and herbicides that pollute the environment when used regularly to keep weeds at bay.
Last update on 2023-11-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API