Landscaping rock creates a low-maintenance ground cover that stays put, unlike lightweight mulch, which can blow away. The rock helps smother unwanted plant growth, but some stubborn weeds find a way to thrive. Weed prevention starts before you put the rocks down and continues with regular maintenance to stop a large-scale weed invasion.
Start With a Clean Slate
If you don’t get all of the weed roots out of the ground, you’re likely to see more unwanted growth popping up. Additional weed-killing methods can keep the population under control so the rock area isn’t overrun with weeds. A weed flamer is one option that works well since the rocks can withstand the heat and aren’t flammable. A quick blast of heat from the flamer kills the weed. Keep the weed flamer away from any flammable materials, such as your house or wood mulch. Boiling water can have a similar effect on weeds. You can also use a premixed herbicide, such as glyphosate, directly on the weeds.
Use Your Muscle
Despite your best prevention techniques, you may notice a few pesky weeds sneaking into your rocks. Pull the weeds as soon as you see them, but don’t leave the plucked plants in your rocks. If possible, move the rocks back from the weed so you can get its root out when you pull. A handheld weeding knife or other small weeding tool helps reach the weed roots between the rocks.
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Even through rock mulch and gravel, weeds will somehow find a way to grow. Luckily for you, these can be handled like weeds in any other part of your garden. You can spray a chemical killer, pull them by hand, or use a variety of household materials to help keep your yard free of these plant pests.
This article was co-authored by Lauren Kurtz and by wikiHow staff writer, Hunter Rising. Lauren Kurtz is a Naturalist and Horticultural Specialist. Lauren has worked for Aurora, Colorado managing the Water-Wise Garden at Aurora Municipal Center for the Water Conservation Department. She earned a BA in Environmental and Sustainability Studies from Western Michigan University in 2014.
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If weeds are growing in and around your garden rocks, you should be able to easily kill them. If there are only a few weeds, pour boiling water over them or spray them with vinegar. For a larger infestation, use liquid herbicide. Do this on a dry day when there’s no rain scheduled so it doesn’t wash the herbicide away. Mix 10 milliliters of weed killer per liter of water into a spray bottle and cover the weeds with it. Alternatively, pull them out by hand. Water the weeds to loosen the roots. Then, a couple of days later, loosen the soil with a garden fork and pull the weeds out. For more tips from our Gardening co-author, including how to choose a weed killer for your specific weeds, read on!
Salt. Table salt or saltwater will work on some weeds. The major disadvantage is that it’s hard to grow anything in salty soil, so if you or anyone else ever want to grow plants in the area in the future, this is not a good solution.
Salt, vinegar, soap combo. If other options aren’t working, try a combination of 1 gallon white vinegar, 1 cup of table salt, and 1 tablespoon of dishwashing liquid. The dishwashing liquid helps keep the mixture on the leaves long enough for it to work.
MDI Rock supplies a wide range of products for all sorts of uses at competitive prices. If you’re not sure what kind of rock you need or how much, we’re happy to give you our expert advice based on 30 years of experience. We carry over 50 colors of decorative groundcover as well as rip rap, flagstone, topsoil, sand, gravel, and a huge selection of boulders.
Hands and hoes. Sorry, but this may be your best bet if the weeds are growing in rocks next to other plants that you want to keep. Many people find that a Hula-Ho (also called a stirrup hoe or scuffle hoe) works better than a traditional flat hoe.
Landscape plastic. Some people find this useful, but we see a couple of drawbacks to it. For one thing, you have to lay it down before you put in your rocks, so if you didn’t do this from the beginning, it’s not helpful. The bigger problem is that eventually holes will wear through the plastic, and the weeds will grow through them. Plus, dust will blow on top of the plastic, letting weeds sprout there. So you get weeds anyway, and over time, the plastic will become unsightly as the rocks shift and bits of ragged plastic start to surface.