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Does Weed Barrier Decompose? How Long Weed Barrier Lasts

Weed barriers are one of the best ways to prevent weed growth. Needless to say, their success against the dreaded weed makes them a popular choice in many outdoor applications. Do they decompose, though? And if not, how long do they last?

Weed barriers do not decompose. Over time, they will need to be replaced. Most weed barriers will last a minimum of five years before they need to be swapped out. However, more expensive and premium weed barriers may not need replacing for up to 25 years.

If you’re looking for information about weed barriers and decomposition, you’ve come to the right place. Below, you will uncover important info regarding weed barrier decomposition, how long these handy fabrics last, and other interesting details.

Does Weed Barrier Decompose?

The weed barrier has one goal in mind: to block the sunlight from reaching weeds, thus preventing weed growth.

They’re typically placed under a layer of mulch, bark, rocks, or other items. Not only do these elements keep the weed barrier in place, but it provides a lovely appearance to one’s landscape.

However, unlike many items in your front or backyard, weed barrier does not decompose. This leads many to wonder, how long does a weed barrier last? After all, the last thing you want to do is dig up the weed barrier every year to swap it out.

How Long Does Weed Barrier Last?

The weed barrier does not decompose. So, when it stops working, it will need to be replaced. How long will it last, though?

How long your weed barrier lasts depends on many factors, such as the brand and the quality of the fabric.

For the most part, you can expect your weed barrier to last at least five years. However, some of the more expensive and top-tier weed barriers can last up to 20 or 25 years.

The best thing to do is to keep your eye on your weed barrier. If you notice weeds starting to pop up through the fabric regularly, it may be time to replace it.

Check out these Professional Quality Weed Barrier and Weed Barrier Stakes from Amazon to see the most current selection and pricing.

How Often Do You Replace Weed Barriers?

How often you need to replace your weed barrier depends on its effectiveness.

Every weed barrier is different. Some premium options may stay in good condition and block weeds for over ten years. Yet, it’s more common for weed barriers to last up to five years. After the five-year mark, you’ll likely run into problems.

If you start to notice that weeds are growing through the fabric, it’s a clear indication that you need to replace the material. Other issues, such as tears, rips, or holes, are also indicators that you should replace the weed barrier.

Do Weeds Grow Through Weed Barriers?

A weed barrier – also referred to as landscape fabric or weed cloth – is one of the most desirable options for preventing weed growth in an outdoor space. This is because it’s relatively easy to install, and zero chemicals are involved, making it a “healthier” choice for consumers and the environment.

Are they really effective, though?

For the most part, yes, weed barriers are effective. They block sunlight from reaching the weeds. And, without sunlight, weeds are unable to grow. They also smother the weeds altogether, ensuring no weed growth.

However, this doesn’t mean they are failproof. Some instances can cause the weed barrier to be less effective. For example, ground covers, trees, and shrubs can pop holes in the fabric, allowing weeds to creep through.

Weed barriers also don’t last forever. Over time, they will break down, leading to weeds popping through the fabric and growing in your outdoor space.

Do Weed Barriers Break Down?

Traditional weed barriers – which are made of linen, polyester, polypropylene, or recycled materials – do not break down over time. At some point, they will need to be replaced entirely. How soon they need replacement depends on the quality and materials.

Alternate Options That Break Down

For many people, going with a biodegradable option is essential. Luckily, there are other options beyond the typical “weed barrier” made of fabric. Some of the top choices include:


One of the premier options when it comes to a biodegradable weed barrier is cardboard. Cardboard breaks down over time and will provide an impressive amount of nutrients to the soil beneath, giving it an edge over traditional fabric weed barriers.


Although some people may think newspapers are a thing of the past, they still have plenty of great uses. One of the best uses is being a biodegradable weed barrier.

If you have extra newspapers lying around, go ahead and use them to cover up weeds and keep them from growing in your outdoor space.


If you’re looking for a material that closely mimics landscape fabric weed barrier, you should opt for burlap. Burlap works in the same way as a weed barrier.

However, it has the bonus of being biodegradable. It’s not as cheap as cardboard or newspaper, but it’s still less expensive than most landscape fabrics on the market.

Should I Remove Old Landscape Fabric?

If your weed barrier is starting to lose efficacy, you might wonder whether you need to replace it or simply add another layer on top.

The most straightforward answer is that yes, you need to remove old landscape fabric and replace it with a fresh weed barrier.

Remember – a weed barrier made with fabric does not decompose over time. So, if it has started to lose efficacy, you will need to replace it outright. That is one of the drawbacks of going the weed barrier route – although you won’t likely need to replace it for several years.

Check out these Professional Quality Weed Barrier and Weed Barrier Stakes from Amazon to see the most current selection and pricing.

Weed Barrier Does Not Decompose

Although the weed barrier is very efficient and convenient, it lacks in one significant department: decomposition. A weed barrier made of fabric will not decompose over time.

Once it begins to lose efficacy (in five to 25 years), it will need to be replaced entirely. If you’re looking for a biodegradable option, cardboard, newspaper, and burlap are the premier picks. 

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