Are you considering adding play area bark to your outdoor space? If so, you may be wondering if it’s necessary to install a weed barrier beneath it. This article aims to provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision. Read on to understand the benefits and considerations of using a weed barrier beneath play area bark.

Advantages of Using a Weed Barrier

One of the main advantages of using a weed barrier beneath play area bark is that it effectively prevents weed growth. Weeds are notorious for quickly taking over outdoor spaces, including play areas, and can be a nuisance to remove. By installing a weed barrier, you create a physical barrier that inhibits the growth of weeds. This means less time spent on weed removal and more time enjoying your play area.

Weed barriers not only prevent weed growth but also limit the access of nutrients to weeds. Weeds thrive on nutrients present in the soil. By installing a weed barrier, you create a barrier between the soil and the weeds, effectively depriving them of the nutrients they need to grow. This further reduces the chances of weed infestation in your play area.

Using a weed barrier can significantly reduce the amount of maintenance required for your play area. Without the presence of weeds, you won’t have to spend as much time pulling them out or applying herbicides. This saves you both time and effort, allowing you to focus on enjoying your outdoor space instead.

Weed barriers help keep your play area clean and free from debris. When weeds are present, they tend to bring along dirt, leaves, and other debris that can accumulate in your play area. By keeping weeds at bay, a weed barrier minimises the accumulation of debris, making it easier to maintain a clean and tidy play area.

Factors to Consider

Before deciding to use a weed barrier beneath play area bark, it is important to consider the type of weeds that are prevalent in your area. Some weeds may be more resilient and can penetrate even the most effective barriers. Understanding the specific type of weeds you are dealing with will help you choose the most appropriate barrier and control methods.

The intended use of your play area is another important factor to consider. If the play area will primarily be used by children, it is crucial to ensure their safety and comfort. Some weed barriers, such as plastic sheeting, may not be suitable as they can get hot and uncomfortable in direct sunlight. Choosing a barrier that is safe and suitable for the intended use of the play area is essential.

Climate and weather conditions play a significant role in determining the effectiveness and longevity of a weed barrier. Factors such as rainfall, temperature extremes, and sunlight exposure can impact the durability and performance of the barrier. Consider the specific climate and weather conditions in your area to select a weed barrier that can withstand the elements and continue to provide effective weed control.

The quality of the soil in your play area is another important consideration when deciding to use a weed barrier. Poor-quality soil may require additional amendments or improvements to promote healthy plant growth. In some cases, a weed barrier may not be necessary if the soil already lacks the necessary nutrients and conditions for weed growth. Assessing the soil quality will help determine if a weed barrier is necessary or if other soil improvement methods should be employed.

The type of play area bark you plan to use as a cover is closely tied to the effectiveness of the weed barrier. Not all types of bark provide the same level of weed control. Some barks have natural properties that act as a deterrent to weed growth. Considering the type of bark you plan to use will help ensure compatibility with the weed barrier and maximize weed control efforts.

Types of Weed Barriers

Landscape fabric is a commonly used weed barrier material. It is typically made from woven or non-woven polypropylene fabric. Landscape fabric allows water, air, and nutrients to pass through while blocking the growth of weeds. It is relatively easy to install and provides long-term weed control.

Plastic sheeting is another option for a weed barrier. It is made from durable plastic materials and is often more affordable than landscape fabric. Plastic sheeting completely blocks weed growth but can have limited breathability and drainage capabilities. It is important to choose a permeable plastic sheeting that allows for proper water and air movement.

Newspaper or cardboard can be used as a temporary weed barrier. They are readily available and biodegradable, making them an environmentally friendly option. However, newspaper or cardboard may not be as effective in the long term compared to other types of barriers. They can easily degrade over time and may require frequent maintenance or replacing.

Mulch can also act as a weed barrier when applied at a sufficient depth. Organic mulch, such as wood chips or shredded bark, creates a physical barrier that inhibits weed growth. The mulch layer should be thick enough to prevent sunlight from reaching the weeds, thus suppressing their growth. Mulch barriers provide the added benefit of improving soil health and moisture retention.

Installation Process

Before installing a weed barrier, it is important to properly prepare the ground. This involves removing any existing weeds or vegetation, levelling the soil, and ensuring proper drainage. Clear the area of debris, rocks, or sharp objects that could potentially puncture the barrier.

To lay the weed barrier, start by measuring and cutting it to fit the desired area. Lay the barrier directly on top of the prepared ground, ensuring that it covers the entire surface of the play area. Overlap any seams by a few inches to provide additional weed control.

Once the weed barrier is laid out, secure it in place using landscape fabric staples or other appropriate fasteners. Space the staples or fasteners approximately every one to two feet along the edges and seams of the barrier. This will prevent the barrier from shifting or lifting due to wind or foot traffic.

After the weed barrier is secured, cover it with the desired play area bark. Spread the bark evenly over the entire surface, ensuring a consistent depth of at least three to four inches. The bark acts as a protective layer, enhancing the effectiveness of the weed barrier while providing a soft and cushioned surface for play.

Alternative Weed Control Methods

Regular weeding is a manual method of weed control that involves pulling out weeds by hand or using hand tools. While it can be time-consuming, regular weeding is effective in preventing weed growth if done consistently and thoroughly. This method is particularly useful for small play areas or areas with minimal weed infestation.

Natural Weed Control Methods

Natural weed control methods involve using organic or non-toxic substances to discourage weed growth. Some examples include vinegar, boiling water, salt, or homemade weed control mixtures. These methods are generally safe for the environment and can be effective in controlling weeds when used properly. However, they may require more frequent applications and may not be as effective in preventing regrowth.

Maintenance and Longevity

Regularly inspect the weed barrier for any signs of damage or degradation. Look for tears, holes, or any gaps that may allow weeds to grow through. Address any issues immediately to prevent weed infiltration and maintain the effectiveness of the barrier.

If damage is detected, repair or replace the affected sections of the weed barrier. Depending on the severity of the damage, you may be able to patch small tears with compatible materials or seal them with adhesive. In cases of extensive damage or degradation, replacing the entire barrier may be necessary to ensure continued weed control.

While a weed barrier provides significant weed control, it is important to implement additional measures to prevent weed growth. Regularly inspect the play area for any signs of emerging weeds and promptly remove them. Maintaining a sufficient depth of play area bark will also help suppress weed growth and maintain the overall cleanliness of the area.

Professional Advice and Consultation

Before installing a weed barrier beneath play area bark, it can be beneficial to seek expert opinions or consultation. Landscaping professionals or horticulturists can provide valuable insights and recommendations based on your specific needs and conditions. They can assess the site, evaluate the type of weeds present, and help you choose the most suitable barrier and control methods.

It is also important to be aware of any local regulations or guidelines regarding the use of weed barriers. Some areas may have restrictions on certain types of barriers or require permits for their installation. Familiarise yourself with the local regulations to ensure compliance and avoid any potential issues.


Using a weed barrier beneath play area bark offers numerous advantages, including preventing weed growth, limiting nutrient access to weeds, reducing maintenance, and keeping the play area clean. However, there are also some disadvantages to be aware of and it is important to consider various factors, such as the type of weeds, intended use of the play area, climate and weather conditions, quality of soil, and types of play area bark, when deciding to use a weed barrier. There are different types of weed barriers available, including landscape fabric, plastic sheeting, newspaper or cardboard, and mulch. The installation process involves preparing the ground, laying the weed barrier, securing it, and covering it with play area bark. Alternative weed control methods, such as regular weeding and natural methods, can also be considered. Regular maintenance and inspection are necessary for long-term effectiveness. Seeking professional advice and consultation, as well as familiarising yourself with local regulations and guidelines, is recommended. By carefully considering these factors and taking appropriate measures, you can create a weed-free and enjoyable play area.