In our garden no matter how much mulch or pine straw we put down, weeds still pop up. I hate pulling weeds and since both my cat and my 6 year old spend lots of time in out garden area, I like to limit the amount of chemicals I use.
It took me a while but I finally talked my husband into spending even more money on garden supplies and purchasing landscape fabric. Landscape fabric is a fabric type material that comes on a roll and is usually black in color. It forms a barrier that allows water and light in but prevents weeds from coming out. To use it, you roll it out over the top of the soil and cut it to fit the shape of your garden. They sell special pins that can be used to hold it in place but we use heavy wood mulch in our gardens and that is enough weight to hold it down and keep it in place. To add new plants simply cut a hole in the fabric large enough to add the plant and then put the plant in in the hole. I then pull the fabric back as close to the base of the plant as I can to prevent the weeds from finding the hole. If you are adding it to a garden with existing plans, it is a little harder to install because you have to cut around the plant to put it down, but the extra effort is worth it for the protection it provides. The only parts of my garden I do not use the fabric is in my bulb garden. Since they spread and multiply each year, I am never sure where they are going to come up and I don't want to risk missing any holes and loosing plants.
In years past we have gone with the cheaper Walmart brand of fabric but found that it is very thin and tears easily. Last year we invested a little extra money and purchased the DuPont landscape plus advanced weed dense fabric from Lowes. It is much thicker than the Walmart brand and you can pull and stretch it much more before it begins to tear but is still easy to cut. From what we have seen so far this year, it seems to have held up well and we have detected no holes that have formed. It did a better all round job of preventing any stray weeds from making their way through like the Walmart brand allowed.
If you are looking for a way to prevent weeds before they have a chance to get out of control and spread and want to do it without chemicals, weed control fabric is a great option to check out.