- How to Keep Weeds Away from Your Gravel
- 17 Natural Ways to Kill Weeds
- 1. Use the hands-on approach: Pull weeds before they go to seed.
- 2. Bring out the blow torch.
- 3. Mow them down.
- 4. Dowse them with boiling water.
- 5. Use your grandmother’s favorite homemade weed killer: vinegar.
- 6. Stop weed seeds from germinating with cornmeal.
- 7. Brush baking soda into cracks.
- 8. Sprinkle the weeds and soil with salt.
- 8. Bring on the borax.
- 9. Using vodka in homemade weed killer.
- 10. Make a vinegar weed killer at home with dish soap and salt (maybe).
- 11. Buy an organic herbicide.
- 12. Seal cracks in sidewalks, patios, and driveways with cement crack fillers.
- 13. Recycle old newspapers in your garden.
- 14. Install landscaping fabric around plants and under hardscapes.
- 15. Protect your soil and block the sunlight with mulch.
- 16. Crowd them out.
- 17. Rent goats for weed control.
- Don’t Disturb the Soil
- Smother Weed Seeds
- Wage a Chemical Attack for Weed Control
- Grow Plants Close Together
- Winning the Weed War
- Removing Weeds from Your Gravel Driveway
- Controlling Gravel Weed Plants: Tips For Preventing Weeds In Gravel Areas
- Gravel Weed Plants
- How to Remove Weeds in Gravel Driveways and Other Areas
- Preventing and Killing Weeds in Gravel
How to Keep Weeds Away from Your Gravel
Having a gravel sidewalk, pathway, or driveway with your home has many appealing qualities. For example, you can have a gravel pathway using any number of beautiful kinds of gravel pebbles, including contrasting or complementary colors to your home. You can also have a gorgeous curving pathway with the gravel, something that can be more difficult to do with other roadway materials. And you can even use materials like crushed granite or lava, among other hard materials, to create the “gravel” sidewalk or driveway. Also, the materials are much more yielding in cold weather than asphalt is.
All that sounds great, except for one thing – weeds. Because there is more flexibility and movement with a gravel path, it can potentially see some unwanted growth, as weed seeds sprout from the ground into the gravel surface. In addition, grass can also potentially sprout from the gravel areas.
So what can be done to keep weeds and even grass from growing in your gravel? Here are some weed control tips:
Weed the area thoroughly yourself
Before you put the gravel down:
- Make sure to thoroughly go through the soil in search of weeds and any other signs of plant life. Or if you already have the gravel in the pathway or driveway, temporarily remove it with a shovel.
- Turn the soil and check for any weeds, and pull them out. It is much easier to remove the weeds this way, than with gravel blocking getting the entire weed out.
- Rake the area, and some protective mulch, and then put the gravel on the top layer.
Use garden fabric to keep weeds away
Some people take this a step further and use garden or landscape fabric instead of, or in addition to, the mulch. This step will indeed add time and effort to the job, but it also offers very good results as far as keeping the weeds away. You also have to make sure to have a method to have the material held down into the ground, so that it does not blow away. Then simply put the gravel on top of this level.
Use salt for your weed control
Some people “brine” their gravel pathways with salt water. This avoids the use of herbicides completely. However, this can have some side effects. While the salt can indeed kill weeds, it can also kill anything else in its path, including grass and gardens. So you do not want to use this on a surface where the salt water will roll down into areas you do want to thrive.
Talk to your Lawn Doctor lawn care professional
Lawn Doctor has a variety of ways to establish pre-emergent weed control, as well as broadleaf weed and crabgrass control, so that any such weeds are dealt with immediately before your gravel driveway or gravel sidewalk looks out of control. Of course, these weed control and prevention services are also available for the rest of your lawn as well to keep the weeds at bay. Good luck with your gravel, and let us know if we can help.
17 Natural Ways to Kill Weeds
Almost everyone hates weeds. From avid gardeners to folks who consider any type of yardwork absolute torture, pretty much anyone with a yard can agree on one thing: Weed control is ongoing and the worst way to spend your weekend.
Of course, there are plenty of commercial herbicides that use toxic chemicals (some of which are organic compounds) for long-term weed eradication, but, while these products are generally rather effective, recent studies link one of the most popular, widely available weed killers to cancer. Others have been linked to kidney and liver damage, endocrine disruption, birth defects, and detrimental effects on wildlife and the environment.
If you have not already stopped using products labeled as potential or likely carcinogens, such as glyphosate and 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (aka 2,4-D), it may be time to do a little more research on the possible health effects of these weed killers before spraying them around your family and pets. A quick online search for health effects of commercial herbicides will likely turn rather quickly into a search for how to kill weeds naturally.
The good news is that there are lots of natural and homemade weed killers that are both effective and non-toxic. So, if you are tired of pulling weeds, there are plenty of options you can try before turning to potentially dangerous chemicals.
When using natural weed control methods, it is important to remember that weeds are basically just plants that we find undesirable. Natural herbicides kill plants indiscriminately, which means they will kill desirable plants right along with unwanted weeds. Therefore, it is necessary to apply these products with care to kill the weeds you do not want without damaging the plants and flowers you love.
1. Use the hands-on approach: Pull weeds before they go to seed.
Most gardeners search for natural ways to kill weeds specifically because they do not want to pull them. However, this old-fashioned weed-removal method is a tried-and-true way to get a weed-free yard. You should not have to pull weeds on a regular basis, since you are going to use some of these other natural weed control options, but sometimes this is the best way to get rid of weeds fast. Most importantly, you need to get rid of weeds that are starting to go to seed. Once your current weeds go to seed, those seeds are going to scatter throughout your yard and make weed removal much more difficult. So, whether you pull them or kill them by other means, be sure to get rid of your weeds before they go to seed.
2. Bring out the blow torch.
Weed torches are actually a thing, and you can even purchase them online. But, before you get too excited, it is important to note that these backyard blow torches should not actually be used to burn weeds, since any vegetation dry enough to burn is probably not safe to burn. Instead, use your propane weed torch to wilt your weeds into submission. Obviously, you need to keep open flames far from desired plants, trees, your firewood storage area, anywhere with dry vegetation, your house, other structures, and anything flammable. Because of this, it is going to be best for most folks to try other natural weed control methods before turning to a blow torch.
3. Mow them down.
Mowing your weeds will remove their flowering bits, which is a temporary fix to keep your weeds from going to seed. This method is most effective for weeds growing in natural grass lawns and, again, it is only temporary. You will still need to employ other natural weed killers to eradicate the problem, but this quick fix will at least keep the weeds from going to seed and those seeds spreading to create an even bigger issue.
4. Dowse them with boiling water.
This natural weed killer is practically free, and you definitely already have it on hand. All you need is a stove, a pot, and some tap water. Or, better yet, if you happen to have a stovetop tea kettle or an electric kettle, this process will be even easier. All you need to do is boil water, and then pour it directly on unwanted weeds. You may have to do this more than once if you have weeds with deep tap roots, but it will eventually kill them off. Be sure to avoid pouring boiling water on desired plants, since this is an indiscriminate killer.
5. Use your grandmother’s favorite homemade weed killer: vinegar.
Vinegar is one of the best-known natural weed killers and has been used for this purpose for just about as long as people have been trying to rid their yards of weeds. You will be best served by picking up vinegar with 20% acetic acid, which you can purchase online or at your local garden center. The stuff you buy at the grocery store has only 5% acetic acid and is great for cleaning and all sorts of household tasks, but it will not kill weeds as effectively as vinegar with 20% acetic acid. Once you have acquired your vinegar, simply put it in a garden sprayer or spray bottle and spray it directly on the leaves of unwanted plants. This is another indiscriminate killer, so you will need to make sure you do not accidentally spray any on desirable plants. You will likely need to repeat the vinegar treatment two or three times to get the job done.
6. Stop weed seeds from germinating with cornmeal.
If you enjoy spending time in the kitchen, you probably already have cornmeal on hand. This means that you can stop weed growth in your yard with a natural weed killer right from your pantry. Cornmeal stops weed growth by inhibiting germination. Since cornmeal keeps all seeds from germinating, it is important that you use this weed control method only in areas where you are not going to try to grow desired plants from seeds. Cornmeal will not affect established plants, so you can use it on bare ground to keep weed seeds from germinating, or you can use it in flowerbeds or vegetable gardens that have established plants. Just avoid using the cornmeal method in areas where you plan on planting seeds.
7. Brush baking soda into cracks.
If your main issue is weeds growing through cracks in your walkways, patio, or driveway, you may have the solution in your kitchen right now. Grab a box of baking soda, sprinkle it along cracks where weeds grow, then use a broom or deck brush to push it into the cracks. You will need to repeat this process after it rains or if you rinse down your hardscapes, since that will will dilute the baking soda.
8. Sprinkle the weeds and soil with salt.
Table salt is an effective, inexpensive, natural weed killer that will dehydrate unwanted plants and render the soil barren well into the future. That is the thing about salt: It is incredibly effective at killing weeds, but it will also kill any other plants in the area, and nothing will grow in that soil for at least several months. On a small scale, you can use a minimal amount of salt to kill weeds, and then irrigate the area regularly to dilute the salt so that you will, one day, be able to plant there again. However, it is safest to only use this method in areas where you have no future plans for growing anything at all. For example, driveway cracks or walkways made of gravel or wood chips are good candidates for salt-based weed control.
While salt is non-toxic to humans and animals, you will need to take a few precautions with this one. First, you will need to be careful when applying it to hardscapes and be sure to get it only in the cracks, since salt can corrode concrete and concrete pavers. Secondly, it is imperative that you do not use salt in areas where runoff could carry it to flowerbeds, a natural grass lawn, or other areas where you want to keep the soil healthy.
8. Bring on the borax.
A simple borax-water mixture is an inexpensive, homemade weed killer that takes seconds to mix and kills weeds quickly. You only need about five ounces of borax per gallon of water, so if you have a two-gallon sprayer, you would mix in about 10 ounces of borax until it is dissolved. Then, spray the mixture on areas where weeds are growing to kill weeds quickly. If you are treating smaller areas with a spray bottle, you will only need about an ounce to one-and-a-half ounces of borax per quart of water. Be sure to wear gloves and other protective gear to keep the solution off your skin and out of your eyes. This is another one where you will need to be careful to only spray the weeds you want to kill, while avoiding desirable plants or spraying too much borax onto the soil.
9. Using vodka in homemade weed killer.
If you happen to have some extra vodka in your liquor cabinet, you can mix one ounce of vodka with about two cups of water in a spray bottle. Add a couple of drops of natural dish soap to the mix, shake well, and you have a simple, inexpensive home remedy for weeds. Be sure to spray your vodka weed killer directly on the leaves of the weeds in the middle of the day. Since the vodka kills your weeds by making them more vulnerable to dehydration, sun is an essential part of the equation. Choose a sunny day, spray your weeds around noon or in the early afternoon, and watch them wither away.
10. Make a vinegar weed killer at home with dish soap and salt (maybe).
If you do not have any extra vodka lying around, or you simply do not want to part with it, you can also whip up a vinegar weed killer using vinegar, dish soap and salt. You have two options here: You can fill your spray bottle with vinegar and add a few drops of natural dish soap and a pinch of salt, or you can fill your spray bottle with vinegar, add the dish soap and skip the salt. Which one you choose really just depends on your future plans for the area of your yard that is currently covered in weeds. Either of these homemade herbicides will kill the weeds, but if you choose the salt option, it will also most likely make the soil unamenable to growing desirable plants in that area for at least a few months.
11. Buy an organic herbicide.
If you are not up for making your own homemade weed killer or think that commercial solutions may be stronger or better, you can always purchase an organic herbicide at your local garden center or home improvement store. These natural herbicides often contain acetic acid, citric acid, or oils, such as clove oil, orange oil, or cinnamon oil. Much like homemade weed control options, store-bought organic and natural herbicides are non-selective, so they will kill both desirable and undesirable plants. This means that you need to be careful where you are spraying if you choose this option.
12. Seal cracks in sidewalks, patios, and driveways with cement crack fillers.
If you are mostly concerned about weeds growing up through seams or cracks in concrete driveways, walkways, patios, or sidewalks, you may be able to eradicate your weed problem by simply filling in those cracks. This is an inexpensive, simple solution that can be applied with a caulking gun or that comes even easier-to-use, squeezable bottles that allow you to squeeze the cement filler into the seams and cracks. This will smother tiny weeds that are just beginning to grow and help prevent future weeds from making their way up through the cracks. If you have existing weeds, you will need to kill and remove them before applying the cement crack filler.
13. Recycle old newspapers in your garden.
One way to kill weeds naturally is to deprive them of the sunlight they need to grow. If you suspect that there are weed seeds in your flowerbeds or vegetable garden, moisten the ground and apply several pages of the daily news to block the sunlight from reaching the soil. This will inhibit their growth and provide weed control until the paper biodegrades and adds carbon matter to your soil. Of course, this is not the most attractive option, but you can cover the newspaper with mulch to hide the paper and add additional nutrients to your soil as it breaks down.
14. Install landscaping fabric around plants and under hardscapes.
If you are planning to install an artificial grass lawn, paving stone patio, gravel walkway, or brick driveway, it is always a good idea to include weed-blocking landscaping fabric in the installation process. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and adding this one step to hardscape installations can significantly reduce the amount of time you spend pulling weeds later on.
You can also prevent weeds in established flowerbeds and borders by installing landscaping fabric around plants under wood chips or gravel.
15. Protect your soil and block the sunlight with mulch.
Applying a thick layer of mulch around your desirable plants or on larger patches of bare dirt provides two-part weed control that does not require chemical-laden herbicides or hours of pulling weeds. First, the mulch provides a barrier that will help keep weed seeds from reaching the soil to germinate. Secondly, it will block sunlight from those seeds that do reach the soil. It is important that you know the difference between mulch and compost if you choose this method of natural weed control, since compost will provide your weed seeds with even more nutrients and encourage their growth.
16. Crowd them out.
Use ground covers and close plantings to compete with weeds for water, light and nutrients to crowd out undesirable plants. If it is an area where you do not plan on planting anything else, you can even plant a thug, which is a plant that will happily steal all of the light, nutrients and water from any plants around them – desirable or not – and take over the entire area. Thugs easily crowd out other plants and will readily overpower any weeds that dare grow near them.
17. Rent goats for weed control.
Goats are not the ideal solution for every weed situation, but they are a great choice for hillsides, rocky areas, places that are difficult for humans to reach, and large areas that do not have desirable plants. Goats will eat just about anything in their path, so this is not an option for clearing the weeds in your vegetable garden or around your prized petunias, but they are a viable option for spots where you need some serious weed abatement. You do not need to purchase goats to handle your weed situation; you may have a neighbor who will let you borrow some, or you can rent them from companies or goat farmers who provide goats to clients specifically for this purpose.
Unlike seeds and plants you buy from catalogs and nurseries, indigenous common weeds are naturally suited to the sun, soil, and water conditions of your garden. That’s why weed control is so hard.
But if you prevent weed seeds from germinating, your garden will be weed-free. Here are some surefire ways to keep weeds from growing in the first place.
Don’t Disturb the Soil
Weed seeds “sleep” in your soil all the time, just waiting for sunshine to enable them to germinate. Left underground, many weed seeds remain dormant for years. So the less you disturb the soil, the more likely weed seeds will remain asleep.
Avoid high-powered tillers, and go easy on the hand cultivating. Sow your flower and vegetable seeds above the ground in mounds of compost, shredded leaves, or even in bags of topsoil. Better yet, plant seedlings and starts.
Smother Weed Seeds
Another way to keep seeds asleep is to cover your soil with sun-blocking organic or synthetic mulches.
Organic mulches — hardwood mulch, newspaper, cardboard, straw — degrade in a few months and improve soil structure and add nutrients. Synthetic mulches — landscaping paper, plastic — can last several seasons, but won’t help rebuild soil when they eventually degrade.
Heed these mulching tips:
- Wet the ground before you lay down layers of paper, which will prevent the paper from blowing away while you work.
- Scout yard sales for old carpet and wallpaper, efficient sun blocks that prevent weeds.
- Spread mulch 2 to 4 inches deep to suppress weeds and retain moisture.
- Always pick straw, not hay, to prevent weeds. Hay usually contains hayseeds, which will sprout where you’re trying to keep weeds out.
Learn more with our handy mulch guide.
Wage a Chemical Attack for Weed Control
Pre-emergent herbicides prevent weed seeds from germinating, but don’t kill existing plants and grasses.
The exact timing for applying a pre-emergent herbicide is hard to pinpoint because you must spread the herbicide before seeds germinate, which happens underground at different times.
Conventional gardening wisdom says spread pre-emergent herbicides when the daffodils pop or the forsythia wilts. But advance planning is the best way to determine when to spread. Log the date when you see the first weeds in your garden, then subtract three weeks to arrive at the date you should spread the pre-emergent herbicide next spring.
Grow Plants Close Together
The closer together you plant your flowers and vegetables, the less space weed seeds will have to grow.
If you double-dig — loosen (don’t pulverize) soil at least 2 feet down — you can plant cheek-by-jowl, because plant roots can grow down, not out, to find water and nourishment. If you plant intensively in a diamond-shaped pattern — rather than rows — you’ll avoid barren spots where weeds will grow.
Winning the Weed War
Decide how much structure you want for your garden.
The battle lines are drawn, and it doesn’t look good. Your favorite cosmos are surrounded by an angry troop of chickweed that keeps getting reinforcements. Your corn is short and malnourished, unable to defend itself against an invasion of velvetleaf. Your pretty garden path is being infiltrated through every crevice by knotweed. And you can’t even bear to look at your once-lush fescue lawn, which is being ravaged by a regiment of crabgrass.
All gardeners know what it’s like to have their yards invaded by unwelcome plants. Although there’s no easy way to banish weeds, there are a few techniques you can use to reclaim your turf — at the least, you can limit hostile takeovers.
1. Be a mulching maniac. Mulch acts as a suffocating blanket by preventing light from reaching weed seeds. At the same time, it holds moisture for your plants and provides nutrients for your soil as it decomposes. Apply coarse mulch, such as bark or wood chips, directly onto soil. Leaves, grass clippings, or straw work better as a weed deterrent with a separating layer of newspaper, cardboard, or fabric between them and the soil.
2. Water those weeds. Pulling weeds is easier and more efficient when the soil is moist. You are more likely to get the whole root system, and your yanking won’t disturb surrounding plants as much either. No rain? Turn on the sprinkler or even water individual weeds, leave for a few hours, then get your hands dirty. (Just ignore the strange looks from your neighbors as you water your weeds.)
3. Cut weeds down in their prime. Weeds love open soil. But if you till or cultivate, then wait to plant, you can outmaneuver the weeds. Till the ground at least twice before you plant. Your first digging will bring dormant weed seeds to the surface where they can germinate. Watch and wait for a few weeks until they begin to grow. Then slice up the weeds again with a tiller or a hoe, only don’t dig as deep. Now it should be safe to put precious plants into the soil.
4. Pass the salt. Try sweeping rock salt into crevices between paths. Although more harsh, borax also works well. Be sure to wear rubber gloves with the latter material. You might need to apply a few doses, but be aware of any surrounding plants because both products kill the good plants along with the bad.
5. Lay down the law. Try using landscape fabric as a weed controller. Landscape fabric is usually made of a nonwoven, porous polypropylene fabric, which enables air, water, and nutrients to reach the soil but keeps weed seeds in a dark, cool environment where they can’t germinate. You lay down the fabric, cut a hole where your plants are positioned or will be planted, then cover the fabric with a 2- to 4-inch layer of mulch or gravel. However, landscape fabric doesn’t work well on steep slopes or windy sites, where the mulch often slides off or is blown away, exposing the fabric. Never use plastic, as it prevents moisture and air from reaching your plants’ roots.
6. Boil them alive. If you have pesky weeds in a spot with no nearby grass or valuable plants, boil water and pour it over the unsuspecting weeds. To control the stream of boiling water and to save surrounding plants and your toes from a scalding, use a teakettle.
7. To compost or not to compost. After you’ve labored to rid your garden of weeds, be careful that you don’t throw weeds onto the compost heap where they can drop seed and infect your entire yard. When you pull or till young weeds, leave them where you chop them and let the sun dry them out, then use them as mulch. Throw mature weeds on a hot compost pile where they should cook at 200 degrees or higher for several weeks to ensure the seeds are killed.
Learn how to identify weeds.
Image zoom Proper preparation when setting up your garden can help prevent weeds.
8. Cover your ground. Cultivate plants close together or grow winter groundcover in areas that typically suffer from weed invasion. A thick mass of plants not only is attractive but also shelters the soil from direct sunlight, making it more difficult for weed seeds to prosper.
9. Old-fashioned elbow grease. Weed every couple of weeks throughout the growing season in order to stay in control of the weed situation. If you’re going to get down and dirty, use a comfortable knee cushion or try pads to lessen the impact of weeding on your body. You can also try an upright tool such as the Weed Hound, which prevents excessive bending or body strain.
10. Solar-powered soil. Solarization uses heat to disinfect your soil. If you have a large planting bed or area of lawn that you want to reseed, till the area to clear all vegetation. Then water the area until it is saturated. Wait 24 hours, then cover with clear 3- to 6-mil plastic sheeting. Bury the edges of the sheeting to seal it. Let the soil cook for four to six weeks, then remove the plastic. If any weeds appear, till them lightly without disturbing the soil. Wait a few days for the soil to cool, then start planting. This method helps get rid of many soil-borne diseases as well.
11. Kiss my grits. You can try a natural weed control such as WOW! (WithOut Weeds), which is made from a byproduct of corn. It acts as a preemergent best applied during the spring, killing weeds before they germinate. A second application at the end of the growing season helps kill weeds that sprout late in the summer and go to seed in the fall. Its nontoxic formula is safe, and it even releases nitrogen into your soil.
12. I.D. your weeds. If you can identify the sprouting menaces in your yard, you can control their reseeding habits better. Annual weeds complete their growing cycle from seed to plant in a few months, then die. Unfortunately, they can leave behind thousands of babies if they go to seed, so always try to remove annuals before they drop seeds. Perennial weeds usually live for at least three years and are more difficult to banish, so at first sighting remove them immediately.
13. Time is tight. If the weeds are starting to grow, but you don’t have the time or energy to pull them up at the moment, suffocate the weeds by covering them with a block of wood or piece of plastic. Better yet, use a few large decorative stones, a work of art, or a birdbath. At least you’ll stop the weeds from spreading so you can tackle them when you have time.
14. Off with their heads. To stop weeds from spreading, pluck off their flower heads before they drop seed. This technique can be especially helpful with annual weeds, which love to provide generation after generation of weeds.
15. Don’t go too low. To help discourage weed germination in your lawn, avoid scalping with your mower. A buzzed lawn not only kills the grass in that spot, it allows light to reach the weed seeds and gives them the opportunity to sprout and run amok. Raising your mower blade also helps promote extra root growth in your lawn, making it harder for weeds to get a foothold.
How can I prevent them?
Before laying you gravel drive ensure you have killed all the weeds that were there before.
We recommend you use a very strong weed killer, that kills down to the roots. Glyphosate based weed killers are best and will kill anything it touches.
Spray the driveway 3-4 weeks before it’s due to start and respray any new regrowth a day or two before work begins.
This will ensure all your weeds are dead and when your contractor lays the weed control fabric you can be sure there are no leftover weeds to grow through it.
Using salt to prevent weeds in gravel:
One of the easiest, cheapest and most natural ways to kill weeds in your gravel drive is to use salt.
Be warned you’re going to need a lot of salt, you’ll also need water, a sprayer, some dish soap (Fairy will do) and some free time on a warm day.
- Dilute the salt and water. You’ll need roughly 1kg of salt per 2 litre of water.
- Add the dish soap last otherwise it will foam up when adding water. Shake or stir it.
- Spray you’re whole gravel driveway, you may need to make a lot.
If your graveled area is large then using salt this way may not be ideal. You could buy large bags of rock salt and spread it across your drive.
The rain will dilute it, soaking the ground beneath, this won’t be as effective as the method mentioned above.
Salt is a non selective weed killer, it will also soak into the ground and prevent weeds from growing.
The more salt you use the longer it will last and the more effective it will be. It’s the perfect tool for killing and preventing weeds on gravel drives.
Using weed killer to prevent weeds in gravel:
If you have a large graveled area then salt may not be an economical or viable strategy for ridding yourself of weeds.
Pre-emergent weed killers such as Kerb Flo will prevent weeds from ever taking up roots, they typically last a few months.
They can be useful but costs will quickly add up if you have to apply it every 3-4 months.
We recommend you use a glyphosate based weed killer. It won’t prevent weeds from growing but one spray and it will kill any live weeds right down to the roots.
They won’t grow back but you may have to re-apply the weed killer on new weeds as they pop up.
Removing Weeds from Your Gravel Driveway
A gravel driveway can add a charming, rustic feel to your home. More and more people are turning to gravel driveways as opposed to concrete or asphalt, as gravel driveways are cheaper to install and, in many ways, easier to maintain than these alternatives. However, there are some things that you’ll need to do in order to care for your gravel driveway that you wouldn’t have to do with other types of driveways. Namely, gravel driveways that are untended are oftentimes subject to overgrowth of weeds and grass. Here are some pointers to keep those weeds at bay.
1. Stop Weeds Before they Start to Grow
Whether you have an existing gravel driveway that already has some weeds and grass growing, or if you’re newly installing a gravel driveway and are looking to prevent yourself from having to work on removing these items in the future, there are a few ways that you can stop weed growth before it begins. Consider laying a plastic barrier underneath the gravel if you’re installing new gravel or making adjustments to the existing layers. You can also put in blockades on either side of the gravel driveway to stop the natural growth of grass and other materials before they can reach the driveway. These could include plastic barriers, bricks, or stones. A thick application of gravel will also help suppress weed growth so consider adding a layer every few years.
2. Use Weed Control
If you already have weeds in your gravel driveway, it can take a long time to remove them all by hand. You may wish to remove some of the larger weeds in order to prevent damage or inconvenience to your car as you enter or leave the driveway, but it can oftentimes be easier to use a weed control chemical or formula.
When using an herbicidal chemical to control weed growth on your gravel driveway, be very careful that you will not have any human or animal contact with your driveway. These substances can prove injurious or even lethal to you, your family, your pets, and wild animals. For this reason, many people turn to natural weed control substances to help deal with this issue. By using a natural substance like white vinegar, you can coat your driveway and prevent weeds from growing, while not creating a potentially dangerous area for human beings or animals in the vicinity.
Raking your gravel driveway regularly can help to keep the gravel itself moving around. This prevents weeds from being as readily able to find footholds in the ground underneath the gravel, which in turn can make it more difficult for those weeds to grow as they normally would.
Finally, you may also wish to use a weed killer or a more powerful agent to eliminate weeds. Again, this is potentially hazardous to you and the other people and animals around you, so it’s important that you exercise caution. If you do decide to go with this option, it’s generally a good idea to carefully weed the driveway by hand and then to rake the gravel before you lay on the weed killer.
Controlling Gravel Weed Plants: Tips For Preventing Weeds In Gravel Areas
Although we have a poured driveway, my neighbor is not so lucky and the rampant weeds coming though gravel rocks are enough to drive her crazy. She spends the better part of her yard maintenance on the removal of these gravel weed plants. What are some methods for preventing weeds in gravel and/or removing these persistent gravel weed plants?
Gravel Weed Plants
Before attempting to eradicate the weed population in your gravel areas, you should first identify what type of weed you are going to battle with to figure out the best method of elimination. There are three basic types of gravel weed plants: broadleaf weeds, grassy weeds and woody weeds.
- Broadleaf weeds – these have just that, broad leaves with prominent veins. The leaves atop the weed are alternate and the others appear opposite one another. These weeds usually bloom and are herbaceous with green, not woody, stems. Some of these are:
- Grassy weeds – these include long-spine sandbur and velvetleaf, and resemble overgrown blades of grass. Leaves are long and thin, and grow parallel to each other.
- Woody weeds – these are unrelenting perennials that shed their leaves during the colder months and resume growth in the spring. They often look like small trees or shrubs and, in fact, are usually the result of nearby trees. These include black locust and mimosa.
How to Remove Weeds in Gravel Driveways and Other Areas
Weeds growing in gravel are difficult to remove, let alone control. Of course, some weeds can be hand removed, but often they will return with a vengeance and in greater numbers. Pulling those weeds that are just about to bloom will aid in reducing the number by preventing the plant from going to seed.
Some weeds, such as (prostrate spurge), have a deep taproot, making it extremely tough to get rid of by hand. It is a summer annual weed with thick, waxy, leaves with a telltale reddish stripe down the center. Try pulling it before it goes to seed since, once this weed is established, even a weed killer is little help due to the difficulty penetrating the thick waxy leaves. Use a pre-emergent with active ingredients such as pendimethalin or oryzalin for severe infestations.
Ideally, your gravel area would have a weed barrier laid prior to laying the gravel. Perhaps this didn’t happen, or the barrier (plastic sheeting) is old and full of holes. You can still push aside the gravel, lay a barrier (after eradicating the weeds with a chemical weed killer), and return the gravel to the driveway or like. Lots of work, but it will keep the weeds from growing in the gravel.
You can also try laying the gravel more thickly. A 3- to 5-inch (7.5-12 cm.) layer of gravel can aid in preventing weeds in gravel. Also, make sure that the irrigation from the lawn watering isn’t running into the gravel. All that lovely water will facilitate weed growth.
Lastly, a chemical weed killer may be the last option. These can be dangerous to you and the environment, so wear appropriate protection prior to spraying and read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Also, some are illegal for use in some areas, so check with your local university extension office for assistance. You may need one that is a selective weed killer if using it abutting flowerbeds or grass. A non-selective weed killer is useful in paved and gravel areas when in doubt of the type of weed you are dealing with. Be careful though, as it will kill or damage other plants.
Preventing and Killing Weeds in Gravel
I am trying to kill weeds in a large area of gravel. There is 6 fruit trees I don’t want to effect plus a lawn in the middle that i don’t want to kill. So what can I make that is strong enough to kill all the weeds but won t harm other things growing around?
Mike from Big Bear City, CA
I’m not aware of any home remedies you can make to kill weeds selectively over a large area. For weeds growing up through the gravel you can try spot spraying them with vinegar (vinegar is not selective though, so be careful). You need a hot sunny day for this for it to be really effective. You could also burn weeds with a propane torch. This method seems to work really well for weeds in gravel driveways or paths. Pouring straight Epsom salt on some weeds will turn them black and kill them over the course of a few days.
Another strategy is to prevent weeds from germinating by applying corn gluten meal to the area. This is a natural corn by-product (usually used in animal feeds) that provides pre-emergent weed control by interfering with root development. You should be able to find it at feed stores and some garden centers. Corn gluten meal is also non-selective, so you need to time application with when your weeds normally germinate. It won’t harm already planted grass or bulbs (in fact it’s a great lawn fertilizer), but if you planning on re-seeding your lawn or planting flower seeds in the area you’ll need to wait 6 weeks. It’s usually applied at a rate of 2 lbs per 100 square feet and provides 6 to 8 weeks of control.