10 Alternatives to Landscape Fabric [For a Weed-Free Garden]

Landscape fabric is a good weed barrier as it prevents weeds from growing through it. However, this barrier has several downsides that can make it detrimental to your garden. 

One of the most prominent downsides to landscape fabric is the high cost of buying it. If you’d rather not spend a lot on landscape fabric, there are great alternatives that require a fraction of the cost. 

There are a few alternatives to landscape fabric that are great alternatives to landscape fabric and will actually help increase the health of your soil and plants.

Landscape fabric made of woven polypropylene is not biodegradable, so it does not provide any nutrients to your soil, nor does it protect it from biological processes that naturally decompose organic materials.

This short article will provide you with alternatives to landscape fabric that will allow you to have a weed-free garden or a garden that is free of unwanted weeds.

What is landscape fabric?

Landscape fabric is thick, so it provides a physical barrier that weeds cannot get through. Landscape fabric can be woven from the milky fibre of flax or cotton, or it can be made of polypropylene, which is not biodegradable.

Landscape Fabric has many benefits. It prevents weeds from growing through, so you do not have to pull all the weeds out of your soil, and you do not have to weed every day. It also reduces the amount of time necessary to maintain a garden.

What are the advantages of landscape fabric?

1. It prevents weeds from growing through.

2. It reduces the time needed to maintain your garden.

3. Your gardening will look more professional.

4. It is exactly what you want for a perfect garden. It is not an eyesore that can ruin the appearance of your yard or home.

5. Landscape fabric will prevent you from accidentally wearing out your knees.

6. Landscape fabric stops weeds from growing, so you do not have to pull all the weeds out of the soil every time.

7. It allows good air circulation around your plants and protects them from pests and weeds.

8. It is extremely durable. There is no chance of weed growth through landscape fabric, like with mulch, which can often be pulled up and pulled apart by a very determined weed beast.

What are the disadvantages of landscape fabric?

1. A landscape fabric is not a permanent weed control solution, and replacing it regularly is required.

2. Landscape fabric is not aesthetically pleasing as mulch and also does not block out weeds.

3. Landscape fabric does not provide good air circulation around your plants, so leaves are more susceptible to diseases such as black spots.

4. Landscape fabric needs to be replaced with time, or it will begin to rot, which can cause it to fall apart and become useless; the same problem with mulch.

5. The landscape fabric eventually blocks and clogs up water and oxygen and blocks them from reaching the soil.

6. Landscape fabric that is exposed can be unattractive.

10 Alternatives to Landscape Fabric

1. Burlap

Burlap is comparable to traditional landscape fabric in terms of installation. You do the same thing by laying the fabric in sheets with holes or slits, using pins to hold it down, or using clips to secure it. As it decomposes, it will naturally biodegrade, which is why landscape fabrics are used to cover compost worms and other compost materials.

Pros of using burlap:

  • Burlap can be easily recycled, making it cost-effective.
  • It decomposes quickly and helps to balance the feel of a lush garden.
  • You can barely find a fabricated thing that looks as natural as this.

Cons of using burlap

  • It’s still considerably less expensive than most landscaping fabrics.

2. Cardboard

Cardboard works well for covering compost piles. It does not require much maintenance because it does not retain moisture. You may have a couple of these lying around your house, particularly if you made an online purchase. Your cardboard box can be used as a plant-friendly, biodegradable landscape fabric alternative when you make online purchases.

Pros of using cardboard:

  • It’s cheap and readily available at building-supply stores.
  • It can be easily recycled.
  • Paper is not the most eco-friendly material you can use, but it is cheaper than using burlap or fabric.
  • It’s biodegradable, and earthworms like it, so it won’t hurt your soil. In fact, it will add nutrients as it breaks down.

Cons of using cardboard

  • It will decompose relatively slowly compared to burlap.
  • Your garden bed will become a mess if you use cardboard to mulch it. Inorganic mulch like gravel or rubber won’t clog up the cardboard, and it will sink into the soil and remain intact.
  • Cardboard tends to stay in one place, so it can easily be a hazard for renters.

3. Paper bags or newspaper

One popular choice is the newspaper, which provides the most benefits of the three materials. Paper is basically a compostable product that can be used as an alternative to burlap, cardboard or fabric.

Newsprint is still used as a weed barrier material by many people. You can still use it in your garden if you buy it in paper form.

Pros of using Paper bags or newspaper

  • Paper is easily available everywhere – at local shopping centres, grocery stores, etc.,
  • Paper can be recycled multiple times, and even at the end of its life, it is still eco-friendly
  • Your soil will benefit from environmentally friendly newspapers. Earthworms eat newspaper, making it biodegradable and good for the soil.

Cons of using Paper bags or newspaper

  • Newspapers aren’t good with inorganic mulches. Use wood chips or bark, which will decompose along with the newspaper.
  • Paper bags and newspapers aren’t good for much else besides their intended use. They are effective weed barriers but not good choices for protecting tree trunks, spreading over hillsides and other places where they don’t fit well.

4. Ground cover plants

Gardeners can successfully prevent weeds from developing by placing ground cover plants in the garden bed before bedding plants. These plants shade out any weeds that may arise before they can sprout. This method works especially well when using sterile ground cover covers. A good ground cover plant is called a ‘sheet mulch.’ These plants grow high enough above the soil line to prevent weed development and spread over a larger working area than does a ground cover.

Pros of using ground cover plants

  • Weed smothering is the most natural method.
  • This works with many plants, not just ground cover plants.
  • It’s naturally organic and reduces the need for toxic herbicides and pesticides to control an unwanted weed problem.
  • This is an excellent method for composting and ageing compost because it prevents the decomposition of weed seeds.

Cons of using ground cover plants

  • Choosing between this option and costly if you have to cover a large area is up to you.
  • To grow a full ground cover, you will need to space each plant at least three feet apart – which can be time-consuming.

5. Herbicides

You can prevent and kill weeds with herbicides if you do not like the look of landscape fabric or of these alternative fabrics. There are chemical-based and natural weed killers available. Soil-enriched herbicides are safer for you, the environment and your plants. They work by releasing a chemical like Bacillus subtilis or Bacillus pumilus into the soil matrix, where they feed on bacteria and fungi in the soil while digesting plant residue at a lower pH resulting in a biological time bomb that destroys unwanted vegetation.

Pros of using herbicides

  • Just like any other herbicide, fertilizers must be used to help boost their effectiveness for the area where you will apply them.

Cons of using herbicides

  • There are some weed management products that can damage the environment and pose risks to your plants. The use of herbicides is not a long-term solution to the problem, as most plants will eventually become resistant to them.
  • Depending on the herbicide, you could have to water your lawn almost every day for a period of time after it has been sprayed in order to keep it healthy and help kill off any weeds that might be growing there.

6. Kraft Paper

If you have a lot of garden rows, this one is perfect. Simply go to your local hardware store (Lowes, Home Depot) and get a pack of Kraft Paper. It is so simple to lay this down in straight lines. It rolls out like a dream and is as thick as a newspaper. You can use it as a bed for clumps and flowers or as a ground cover. When you are done, just pack up your supplies and take them with you!

7. Pea Gravel

The beauty of pea gravel is quite comparable to woven landscape fabric. Its main disadvantage is its biodegradability. However, it may be used in many different ways. It may be used as a walkway, as a substitute for landscape fabric or simply as a natural alternative to it. Pea gravel can also be placed at the base of small plants to keep them from being overturned by the weight of your soil. The combination of these benefits provides a gardener with an easy and attractive way to cover the soil in their garden while also providing excellent drainage if you are growing in clay soil.

8. Old Hay

You can use old hay to cover the soil that doesn’t receive a lot of suns. It will add organic matter and water retention, and it also looks very natural in most gardens. It is free to get large amounts of old and rotten hay from many farmers’ crops. It is usually around the edges of fields. Just be sure to ask permission. Hay can also be purchased from most feed stores in either bales or round bales. Hay is fairly cheap for what you get and serves many purposes when used properly in the garden.

9. Cotton Seed Hulls

Cotton seed hulls are the husks of cotton seeds. They will provide excellent drainage for your soil and help reduce problems with soil erosion. Make sure you buy cottonseed hulls, not cottonseed meals. The meal has to be purchased in bulk, and the hulls do not settle well in most gardens. They can also be used as mulch, but, again, cotton seed hulls are usually much cheaper.

10. Mulch

Mulch is another item that can be purchased and used to great effect in the garden. Mulch helps to retain moisture, prevent soil erosion and prevent weed growth. Mulch can also provide a place for beneficial insects to lay their eggs, and it can also help your plants through cold weather. Wet mulches such as wood chips or bark can hold up to 20 times their weight in water, while dry mulches will not hold as much water, but they will help reduce weeds, improve soil structure, add organic matter and help keep the ground cool in the summer.

Can I use plastic instead of landscape fabric?

Landscape fabric is a great way to contain plants in gardens and landscape beds. There are hundreds of different types on the market, including plant supports, edging, horticultural fabric and so on. The plants that you want to grow may require a particular type of fabric that is not available elsewhere.


In this article, there are many things discussed on landscape fabric and how it can be used in the right manner to create more natural surroundings and more beauty. We have also looked at some of the advantages that landscape fabric will have on our environments, as well as some of the disadvantages and how we can counter those. I hope you will like the article. If you have any comments or suggestions, please feel free to leave them down below. Thanks