Using a weed mat is one of the easiest and most efficient ways to keep weeds away from your lawn or garden.
But laying them can be a bit of a process, and many people wonder whether they are worthwhile.
This guide outlines how to use weed mats, the pros and cons, and some weed mat alternatives.
What is a weed mat?
A weed mat is a fabric barrier designed to prevent weeds from growing and spreading.
It’s an alternative to herbicides and other chemical-based weed control products, as well as a popular option for those seeking sustainable solutions for weed control.
Here’s how it works: the fabric blocks sunlight from reaching the ground, which prevents weeds from growing.
How do weed mats work?
Weed mats work by blocking sunlight, smothering and preventing weed seeds from growing.
If you use a weed mat product correctly, it can reduce weeds by up to 90%.
A weed mat is an excellent addition to any outdoor space, including vegetable gardens, flower beds, garden paths and driveways, retaining walls and around trees.
They’re also useful for under pavers or other surfaces where it might be hard to reach for weeding.
What are the different types of weed mats?
There are a few different types of weed mats on the market, and it can sometimes be confusing to know the difference between them. Here are the most common:
Weed mat, also known as landscape fabric, is made from plastic or cotton. It’s designed to control weeds while still allowing water and air through.
Weed mat stops weeds from growing through, but it does let water and air through because it is porous.
Biodegradable Weed Mat
There are also environmentally-friendly weed fabrics that can be laid under turf or in garden beds.
Over time, this material decomposes, returning nutrients to the soil. However, by this stage, your turf or garden will hopefully have established itself enough to naturally resist weeds.
Biodegradable weed mats have the benefit of being non-toxic and are usually made from renewable resources.
Plastic sheeting for weed control is impermeable and therefore works particularly well in blocking weeds.
Black plastic tends to work best for killing and blocking weeds because it blocks out both sunlight and moisture.
However, this is to the detriment of all other organic matter underneath the plastic, including your soil.
How to lay a weed mat
- Ensure you have a weed-free surface. This is one of the most important steps in any weed control project and it requires some planning and diligence to make sure that you don’t create more work for yourself in the future. Existing weeds can be removed by pulling them out manually or with a herbicide.
- Cut the weed mat to size. A little bit of extra material never hurts, but you should balance waste against making sure that you have enough material to do what you want. Cutting too big is a lot easier to fix than cutting too small!
- Staple the weed mat down. Secure your weed mat using metal or plastic pegs and a hammer. Your weed mat should be flush with the ground and cover the entire area.
- Cut holes for plants. If you want to plant anything on top of the weed mat, cut the holes that are the same width as the base of the plant.
- Cover with mulch. Spread your mulch out evenly across the weed mat. Make sure you use adequate protection when laying mulch.
Are there biodegradable weed mats?
The last thing you want to do in your garden is to damage the environment unnecessarily.
That’s why many gardeners now prefer biodegradable weed mats, which will break down and disappear over time, instead of remaining in the soil.
Biodegradable simply means that the material will decompose naturally and harmlessly into its component parts over a period of months or years.
A biodegradable weed mat will therefore eventually turn back into harmless organic matter once it has finished doing its job in your garden, leaving no trace behind.
While this has the benefit of not leaving plastic in the ground, if you want to keep weeds away from a certain area for good, a non-biodegradable option might be your best bet (this will depend on your specific requirements).
Weed mat alternatives
If you don’t want to use a weed mat, there are a number of other items that will do the job:
- black plastic
- grass clippings
Do Bunnings sell weed mats?
Yes, Bunnings sells a range of weed mat products including plastic weed mats and eco-friendly alternatives made from vegetable by-products.
Weed Mat FAQs
What is a weed mat?
Weed mats are generally heavy-duty sheets of material that are used to prevent weeds from growing in garden beds and other outdoor areas. Many weed mats also allow water and nutrients through, so they don’t suffocate the ground or impede your plants’ growth.
Do weed mats work?
Weed mats prevent weeds from growing by blocking out sunlight and air flow—two essential things required for plants to grow. They also kill existing weeds that they’re placed over by preventing them from getting sunlight and air. So they don’t just keep the weeds down, but more importantly, they stop new ones from coming up!
Do you need a weed mat under pebbles?
We recommend it! Some people choose not to put a weed barrier under their pebbles because they think the open space between them will provide good drainage for excess water runoff. However, leaving this space open creates a great opportunity for weeds to grow underneath your walkway or driveway once again, defeating the purpose of using decorative stones in the first place!