Woven Ground Cover vs Good Old Burlap

Woven Ground Cover vs Good Old Burlap Woven black polypropylene fabric is more commonly used as Ground Cover Fabric. But you may have also heard it called conservation fabric, weed barrier or weed block. All are equally acceptable terms.

Such material really has two purposes. They sometimes conflict a bit:

  • Help hold water in the soil.
  • Prevent or restrict the growth of weeds -- aka unwanted plants.

The fact that it helps retain water in the soil helps nourish the lawn and other plants that you do want in the area. But water is non-discriminating. It can also end up nourishing plants we don't want. Those plants are generally called weeds.

The way you reconcile this conflict is with proper installation. For best results, you want to lay it down on cleared ground before you begin your gardening or landscaping project. This is intended to be part of the preparation.

However, life happens! It is possible to add it to existing landscaping. But it performs better when installed at the earliest possible stage, before any planting gets done.

Ground cover fabric is designed with the reality of outdoor usage in mind. It will hold up to exposure to long hours of sunlight while resisting damage from both insects and wildlife. It does all this while being permeable and thereby letting water get to the roots of the plants where it is needed. 

All such products are also conveniently marked every 12 inches. This comes in handy for both large installations and even when using it as a liner when potting plants.


Before we had engineered polypropylene fabrics, we had burlap. Here are some of the things you need to know about this material.

Environmentally Friendly

A lot of burlap begins its life as a bag of some sort. It may be used for coffee, rice or an industrial purpose. When used to store food, burlap is not treated with chemical preservatives. However, when used for industrial purposes, it does get treated with chemical preservatives. What is available in garden centers is untreated.

Burlap that is being used outdoors is often being recycled. This is often its second life. Although it is sturdy and long lasting, it will eventually decompose and return to the soil from which it came. 

Other Uses

Burlap is a tough, natural material made from the tropical fiber called jute. It's been around for centuries and has long been popularly used in gardens due to its sturdy nature. It gets used for storing seeds and various other things, plus it gets used for wrapping the roots of trees or shrubs when transplanting them. 


When used alone, burlap tends to do a poor job at suppressing weeds. It does a great job at allowing water and oxygen to get through it to the soil beneath, but the coarse weave allows shoots to come up through the fabric. 

This is great if you are planting a lawn and want to hold the seeds in place until they take root. It is not so great if the point is weed suppression.

However, a deep layer of straw will prevent most weeds from sprouting. When held in place by burlap fabric, the two together do a much better job than either alone.

NYP Corp is here to help when you need woven or burlap ground cover fabric for weed prevention.

Contact NYP Corp or view our Ground Cover Fabric.