What to put under mulch to stop weeds

Weeds are one of the problems that farmers and gardeners often encounter.

Weeds are one of the problems that farmers and gardeners often encounter. They are a nuisance since they prevent nutrients and moisture from being absorbed by your plants. Weeds also make your farm look ugly.

Now, this is why you will find a lot of farmers putting in place mulches. Mulch is a material, usually decomposing leaves or compost, which is spread over plants. The value of mulch to farming or gardening is immeasurable. This is because it provides greater control over the intrusion and spread of weeds.

For those who do not know about mulching, here is a guide that addresses all the common questions and helps you mulch in the right way.

Do you need to pull weeds before mulching?

pulling weeds
photo by duaneellison from iStock

Yes, you must pull weeds before mulching. Doing so will ensure that the mulching process is a success.

In essence, before applying mulch, you’ll need to prepare your garden appropriately. This will involve the removal of all the weeds. Here are some of the ways of getting rid of weeds in your garden before mulching.


You can grab the weeds with your bare hands and pull them out. To simplify your work, make sure you pull the weeds just after they have been rained on. You can also pull them after irrigation has taken place.

Digging the weeds out

You can also dig up the weeds using a hoe.

Using herbicides

Herbicides are chemicals that are used to kill weeds. The main way of application is by spraying. Therefore before mulching, ensure that you spray all the weeds with herbicides. Doing so will kill the weeds, and you can then continue with the mulching process.

Note: When using this particular method, make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions. You can find these instructions on the label that is usually stuck on the herbicide’s container/bottle.

How mulch works

what to put under mulch
photo by beekeepx from iStock

A mulch of any kind works effectively to prevent the growth and spread of weeds. It does this by ensuring that light doesn’t reach the roots and seeds of the weeds. Remember, for growth and development to take place, weeds need sunlight. So if the mulch is preventing the weeds from getting access to sunlight, they will not grow and eventually die.

What to put under mulch to stop weeds from growing?

There are some instances whereby you’ll find some weeds protruding through the mulch. This means that some of the weeds will continue to grow despite applying mulch. This is a worrying situation that raises the alarm for many farmers and gardeners. Fortunately, there are some things that one can put under the mulch to prevent this from happening. These items include;

Landscaping fabric

This is one of the simplest and most effective solutions to prevent weeds from growing through the mulch. The landscaping fabric works by creating a barrier for preventing the weeds from growing once it’s placed under the mulch. Basically, it acts as natural protection from weeds.


  • If you wish to use this method, make sure that you use a landscaping fabric that is made of a highly durable textile material. This will ensure that you get the best results. You can find this type of landscaping fabric in almost every home improvement store or plant nursery.
  • It is also advisable that after putting the landscaping fabric under the mulch, you add another layer of mulch. This increases the level of protection for your plants.


Another perfect item to put under your mulch to prevent the growth of weeds is vinegar. vinegar is considered to be among the best things to use because;

  • Vinegar is a natural product, so it does not have any side effects of any kind. Basically, it cannot harm your plants.
  • Vinegar is cheap as compared to the other materials.

You need to mix the vinegar with liquid dish soap in small amounts to form a thick consistency. Doing so will allow it to stick to the encroaching weeds.

Note: If the weeds start to protrude through the mulch, spray them directly with the soap and vinegar mixture. They should die after this mixture sticks to them.

Pro tip: Another way of preventing the growth of weeds through your mulch is edging the areas that surround the mulched garden. This is necessary as it will hinder weeds from finding a way through the mulch that is put in place. The deeper the edges, the more effective they are in preventing the growth of weeds.

How to stop weeds from growing through the mulch

For you to stop the growth of weeds through the mulch, you need to follow the steps highlighted below.

But before we get to the steps, you will need some tools and equipment to help you carry out the task efficiently and effectively. These tools include;

  • Rake
  • Trowel
  • Black plastic weed barrier
  • Organic mulch

Steps to follow

  1. First, pull up all weeds that may be currently growing and spreading in the place where you plan to apply the mulch. You’ll need to use the trowel in this step to get rid of the weeds by uprooting them. This is important as it will ensure that weeds do not grow back.
  2. Using the rake, clean your garden until it’s smooth. Also remember to do away with all the rocks, debris, and old mulch that may be present in the garden. This ensures that there is nothing left to poke holes in your black plastic weed barrier.
  3. Take the weed barrier made from black plastic material and spread it in a layer across your garden or the space you want to mulch. The black plastic weed barrier is more effective in blocking sunlight as compared to clear plastic. This is because clear plastic will let more sunlight in, and that is what we do not want as sunlight encourages the growth of weeds.
  4. If there are plants already planted in the place, you should create holes in this weed barrier. Doing so allows the plants to protrude over it and grow well.
  5. Thereafter, you should do an overlapping of the strips from the barrier so that weeds cannot find some space over the material’s edges. Then create X-shapes on the barrier by cutting it to offer space for the plants in your garden before laying down the mulch. Additionally, create holes through these shapes where you’ll be putting the plants.
  6. Lastly, apply your organic mulch in a layer that is 2-4 inches thick across the whole area that you’ve covered with the plastic barrier. Distribute the mulch evenly in the area in a way that the weed barrier won’t be seen.

It is important to note that you can use old newspapers instead of the plastic barrier in the case where you want the mulch to conserve the environment. However, you’ll need to replace the newspapers more often since they tend to biodegrade with time.

Mulching is an environmentally friendly method of taking care of your garden. Once you follow all the necessary steps and procedures, you’ll be able to get rid of weeds from your garden completely. In essence, if you do it right, mulching will prove to be the key for you to having a beautiful and healthy garden.