Weeds can be quite a pain. You can get everything looking nice in your landscape, then a few days later, that pesky weed appears. So you have an idea, we will put a weed barrier down to stop those weeds. Occasionally I will come across some bad ideas of weed barriers. Here are the top ideas that I have seen that were quite bad.
I have seen a blue tarp as a weed barrier. The kind of tarp you would use to cover something from the rain. A tarp is definitely not a good weed barrier. Yes it may stop the weeds, but it also stops the plants from getting water. They may even be durable, but it does not work.
I have also seen plastic grocery bags used as a weed barrier. The only thing that a plastic grocery bag can be in a landscape is trash. The this is just like the tarp, but plastic bags will start to break down in the soil and just become a mess of trash when it is time to redo the landscape.
Actual weed matting works okay at best. However, if you do want to use it, look for weed matting that is designed to be weed matting. The key things to look for would be allowing air and water to be able to move through the barrier. Weed matting will only buy a few years with minimal weeding. After a while, dirt will start to accumulate on top of the matting and weeds will start to grow right not top of it.
Pulling weeds as you see them, or using a pre-emergent herbicide will be your best options. When going the herbicide route, make sure that you read and follow the instructions on the label at all times. It would be nice if weed matting was a long term option, but it is at best a short term solution.