Will Ground Covers Grow Over a Weed Barrier? All Details Explained

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Weed barriers are an effective way to keep weeds from growing in your garden, but what happens if you want to plant ground covers as well? Will they grow over the weed barrier?

Ground cover can grow over a weed barrier if you punch holes in it before installation. Most weed barriers are porous and permeable, allowing water and nutrients to pass through easily.

The rest of this article will answer some of the most common questions about using weed barriers in your garden. Keep reading so you can be sure to get the most out of this gardening tool.

How Long Does It Take for a Ground Cover To Grow Over a Weed Barrier?

It will take a few weeks for a ground cover to grow over a weed barrier in average climates. The actual time it takes for the plant to fully establish itself depends on the type you choose and how well it’s suited to your climate.

For example, if you live in a hot area like Phoenix or Las Vegas, some ground covers might take longer than three weeks to establish because they need more time to develop their roots before spreading out on top of the soil surface. That is especially true if you don’t water them very often.

So you want to avoid moisture-hungry ground covers like ivy if you live in a hot climate. Choose a ground cover that is more drought-tolerant, like buffalo grass or California poppies.

However, living in a cooler climate like New York City or London, where summers are mild and winters can be harsh (below freezing temperatures). It should only take about two weeks for most ground covers to establish themselves fully after planting because they have an easier time growing when temperatures aren’t too high or low for long periods.

If this is happening with your garden plants, ensure that no weeds are growing underneath them by checking regularly and removing any weed you find. Weeds will take over the space quickly if they aren’t removed, and your ground cover may not recover!

How Does a Weed Barrier Affect Ground Cover Growth?

A weed barrier affects ground cover growth by changing the soil conditions. This material blocks water, sunlight, and air from reaching the soil, which throws off the delicate balance the ground cover needs to survive. For this reason, it’s best to do your homework before installing a weed barrier.

For example, if you install a weed barrier and then plant a ground cover that likes moist soil, it won’t grow well because the area under the weed barrier will be much drier than areas without the cover. You may need to select a ground cover that is tolerant of dry soil or take other measures like using a moisture measuring device under the weed barrier.

The type of ground cover you plant will also affect your ability to grow plants on top of the barrier. For example, if you plant an aggressive ground cover like ivy that typically takes over and crowds out weeds, it may have trouble growing over a weed barrier. Choose a ground cover that is less aggressive, or consider removing the weed barrier periodically to allow the ground cover to spread.

What Determines Your Success With Weed Barrier and Ground Cover Combination?

Your success with a weed barrier and ground cover combination is affected by the type of ground cover you choose, your USDA zone, and how well the weed barrier is installed. Other factors, including care and maintenance, also determine the success level for this combination.

The next step is finding out how much water your ground cover needs before planting it. This way, you don’t need to worry about watering it every day. This will vary according to the type of grass or plant species growing, so be sure to consider that, as well, when selecting what kind of soil mix might work best.

Your budget also plays an essential role in your success with your groundcover and weed barrier combination. If money is tight, consider using mulch instead of plastic, as it’s cheaper to purchase mulch in bulk quantities at home and garden supply stores or online retailers.

Once everything else has been taken care of, the last step is to put down a weed barrier. This can be a homemade cover made from recycled cardboard or an old shower curtain. A plastic sheet is also suitable for use and can be bought at most hardware stores. 

However, if you’re using mulch, make sure it’s organic and not made from treated lumber that will release harmful chemicals over time.

Also, be sure to install everything correctly to avoid issues down the line with maintenance or pests. For example, moles digging underneath will lead to problems when getting rid of these pesky creatures.

Installing a weed barrier is easy and can be done in minutes as long as the ground is flat. If it’s not, use some leveling tools, such as a small rake or hoe, to get everything nice and even before putting down your weed barrier. This is important so that water won’t pool on top of the barrier and create a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Types of Weed Barriers

Weed barriers can take many forms and come in a variety of shapes. But plastic and landscape fabric are the most common type because they’re easy to put down and shape. Your landscaper may also recommend using a stone mulch barrier since stones are slower to degrade than other materials.

Here are some of the common weed barrier options:

  • Stone mulches: These don’t work well for weed suppression because the stones allow light to get through. This means that weeds can still sprout under the mulch, yet it’ll be easy to spot them before they reach maturity.
  • Plastic barriers: These are better at blocking out sunlight, which prevents weeds from growing underneath it (although this also makes it harder for plants above the barrier to grow). However, plastic barriers can be challenging to install and may not be aesthetically pleasing.
  • Landscape fabric: This is a good option because it’s less visible than other materials. It’s easy to work with and lasts several years. The main downside of landscape fabric is that it can tear easily if you aren’t careful.

How To Maintain Your Weed Barrier

Once you have installed your weed barrier, there are a few things you need to do to maintain it.

Ideally, make sure that you keep the area around the barrier clear of debris so that weeds don’t find hiding places. You may also want to mulch around the barrier to help suppress weed growth.

Likewise, inspect the barrier periodically for tears. If you find any, repair them immediately to prevent weeds from growing through.

It’s also important not to expose the plastic barrier to full sun all day if you’re using one. The plastic tends to warp in these circumstances, resulting in a less than ideal appearance.

Are Ground Covers Good at Weed Control?

Some ground covers are really good at weed control, but not all. That’s because different ground covers have different growth patterns. If a cover grows rapidly and densely, it crowds out other plants and prevents weed seeds from germinating.

Slower growing covers are less effective at phasing out weeds because they don’t spread fast enough to create a barrier before the weeds sprout. That’s why I recommend choosing a ground cover that is known for its weed control abilities to ensure the best results.

If you’re using a weed barrier, make sure to select a ground cover that is compatible with it. Some ground covers prefer moist conditions to thrive, and the ground cover may stand in the way of that. 

However, if you’re not using a weed barrier, any fast-growing ground cover should help you eradicate weeds. Just remove any existing weeds before planting the ground cover to avoid competition.

Nothing beats having a healthy layer of mulch on top of your soil when it comes to weed control. Mulch helps prevent weed seeds from germinating and keeps the area around plants moist so they don’t dry out as quickly during hot weather. It also makes it harder for existing weeds to stay alive.

Examples of Ground Covers With Weed Control Capability

Some ground covers are known for their weed-control abilities including dragon’s blood sedum, golden creeping jenny, and red creeping thyme. These plants spread quickly and densely, making them ideal for preventing weeds from growing.

  • Golden creeping Jenny: Easy to propagate and generates cup-shaped, brilliant yellow flowers during summer. It requires a lot of water and maintenance, yet it can quickly cover a large area and choke out weeds. 
  • Dragon’s blood sedum: Considered the most versatile and toughest ground cover for preventing weed growth. It’s also easy to propagate and requires low water content. We recommend using a dragon’s blood sedum if you’re looking for a ground cover with beautiful flowers. This plant grows in shades of red and pink and does well in full or partial sun.
  • Red creeping thyme: For those looking for something a little more unusual. This is a kind of ground cover that’s drought and heat tolerant. It’s also very effective in choking out weeds, and it’s appealing during springtime and most gorgeous during summer as it bursts open in stunning crimson flowers.

Mulching vs. Weed Barriers 

Choosing between mulching and using a weed barrier ultimately boils down to personal preference. Some people prefer the look of mulch, while others prefer the more polished look of a weed barrier. Whichever option you choose, ensure to keep it well-maintained so that your garden looks great all year long!

Effectiveness of Using Mulch

Mulching is the practice of placing organic material, such as leaves, bark chips, or sawdust, on top of the soil to retain moisture and prevent weeds from growing. A weed barrier is a physical barrier that prevents weeds from growing underneath it by blocking light or creating dry conditions.

Generally speaking, mulching protects roots from temperature fluctuations. Besides suppressing weeds, mulching also retains moisture in the soil and prevents frost in the winter. But it doesn’t always work well with every type of ground cover. Therefore, it’s essential to use an appropriate mulching material for your plants.

Mulching is a great way to keep your garden looking tidy and well-maintained. It also helps protect plants from heat and drought. However, the cost of mulch can add up over time, as it requires replacing more frequently than weed barriers.

Nonetheless, mulching is a less expensive option than using a weed barrier, but it doesn’t always work well with every type of ground cover. If you’re using mulch, choose one that is compatible with your groundcover so it won’t limit its growth or cause dry conditions for the roots.

Finally, some types of mulch are more effective at preventing weeds from growing than others, such as pine needles, straw bales, and wood chips (from hardwood trees). If you have a lot of weeds in your garden, using mulch may be the best option for you!

Effectiveness of a Weed Barrier 

Weed barriers can be just as effective as mulch at keeping your garden looking nice while also preventing weeds from growing.

The effectiveness of a barrier is determined by its type and how well it’s installed. You should choose a weed barrier that works with your ground cover so it won’t limit their growth or dry out their roots.

However, some types of barriers are more effective at preventing weeds than others, such as plastic sheeting or cardboard. If installed properly, these options can be very effective at keeping your garden looking nice and weed-free!

Plus, weed barriers may be a more cost-effective option in the long run since they don’t need to be replaced as often as mulch does.


Installing a weed barrier is an easy way to help keep your garden looking neat and tidy. By selecting the right ground cover and taking into account the water needs of your plants, you can create a low-maintenance landscape that looks great with minimal effort on your part. Just be sure to install everything properly, so you don’t run into any problems down the road.

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