Stop Weeds from Growing in Rocks and Gravel

While landscaping rocks seem to create an easy-to-maintain groundcover, they still smother weed growth. However, tougher weeds typically find a way to survive in the rocks. Stopping such unwanted growth starts before putting the stones down and progresses through upkeep to reduce weed growth.

In general, stopping weeds from growing on rocks starts by laying a water-permeable landscape fabric before laying the rocks or gravel. The rock beds need to be edged with 3 inches of steel or wood. Additionally, scorching, using herbicides, brining, and even uprooting can get the job done.

That’s not all. The weed influx may be high enough that you need to prepare the soil beneath the rocks or gravel. Again, you may want to know what’s causing the weeds to surface. Devoid this awareness, You will be fighting a losing battle, so read on to discover more.

Why won’t weeds stop growing between rocks and gravel?

Stop Weeds from Growing in Rocks

Rock landscapes or gravel are supposed to inhibit weed growth. Unfortunately, some tend to find a thin margin and still grow due to

Lack of proper cleaning

Without frequent cleaning, the pebbles catch leaves, which eventually transform into soil pockets, providing an ideal environment for weeds to grow. Further, dust and organic waste accumulate in the rock crevices, creating a propagation zone for undesirable seeds. If you have weeds sprouting in a newly rocky garden, you may have used finer gravel or unclean stones. A fine gravel base allows weeds to grow since it provides something to root into.

Weed seed dispersion is uncontrolled.

Finally, when boulders are piled closely together, undesired seeds can be carried into rock crevices, causing gravel. When cleaning is not done frequently enough, it gives them a chance to germinate and spread.

How do I stop weed growth between rocks and gravel?

Stop Weeds from Growing in Rocks

Weeds are generally unavoidable if seeds are dispersed uncontrollably or dirty wet stones are used for rockscapes. You may want to;

1. Begin by thoroughly cleaning the area.

A weed-free area is the best foundation for a rock landscape (obviously). So, the first step is to assess your space and remove the already present weeds. This may be done by

Covering the landscaping area with a polyethylene sheet for a month and a half. Doing this will smother all unwanted weeds. Next, take out and dispose of the withered weeds. It’s worth noting that this only functions in hot climates.

  • If you’re in a hurry, treat the weeds with non-selective herbicides. (Spraying on windy days is inadvisable as it may destroy other vegetation.)
  • You can destroy certain weeds with regular white vinegar, but it isn’t particularly effective. Instead, you may consider applying vinegar intended for use in horticulture.
  • Hot water is also effective in destroying weeds. Nevertheless, for a large region, it is not a viable option.
  • While salt can be used to kill weeds, it is not recommended. It alters your soil’s salinity and harms your existing vegetation.

2. Create a Boundary

A layer of landscaping fabric over the gravel prevents any weeds that you may have missed when preparing the site from growing. Remember to use landscape staples to prevent the fabric from shifting under the rock layer.

If you create a second piece of cloth, overlapping it with the previous one will leave no gap for weeds to grow under. The pebbles and the grass are separated by a boundary surrounding your rocky region. In the absence of any barriers, weeds from other landscape parts are likely to reach the rocky area eventually.

3. Block Weed Growth in Gravel with a Cardboard and Newspapers

Put a thick carton or newspaper layer above the landscaping cloth if you wish to obscure the sun even more (light from the sun encourages the growth of weeds).

To delay decay and prevent any openings for seedlings to sprout through, stack the newspaper and use more than one layer. Regrettably, cardboard and newspapers are only effective as a relatively brief deterrent. These materials decay fast and, as a result, lose their capacity to keep weeds at bay.

4. Get your hands dirty.

Despite your best preventative efforts, you may find a few annoying weeds getting into your rocks. You need to pull them out as soon as they appear and dispose of them properly. If conceivable, move the pebbles away from the weeds to get access to the roots. This can be done by hand, albeit you can still use weeding knives.

5. Have a backup plan.

You will likely notice additional weed growth when you don’t pull all weed roots out of the earth. In such incidents, weed-killing treatments can keep the weed numbers in check and prevent the rock area from becoming overwhelmed by weeds. A weed torch is a good solution because the pebbles can survive the temperature and aren’t combustible. Flames from the burner cause a rapid burst of heat, enough to scorch the entire weed plant.

However, it is noteworthy that you keep the torch away from anything combustible, such as your home or lumber mulch. Boiling water can be used to kill weeds in a similar fashion. If not, you can still use premixed herbicides.

Do I need to prepare the soil beneath the rocks?

Stop Weeds from Growing in Rocks

Sometimes, uprooting or applying chemicals won’t just cut it. You have to go the extra mile to reclaim the weedy area. You have to remove the existing rocks and weed the now exposed area. Proceed by applying a 3-inch layer of mulch and sand, then laying the landscape fabric, followed by the rocks.

The double layer of sand or mulch, together with the landscape fabric, provides an extra barrier against weed growth. The mulch will still prevent the weeds from growing even when the fabric gets torn.

Stop Weeds from Growing in Rocks: Conclusion

Irrefutably, there are plenty of ways to stop weed growth between rocks or on gravel. But the end game always depends on why the weeds are growing and what you do to allay those factors. Without that, your hard work may go unrewarded, so see to it before trying the other methods discussed above.

Related article: 6 Ways to Stop Grass Growing Through Rocks