Tips to kill weeds in gravel driveways and gravel paths.

What's the problem with gravel driveways?

Weeds are the problem.

Gravel driveways  add a bit of rustic charm to your home, are a lot cheaper than block paving, cleaner than tarmac, good for drainage, look better than and more eco friendly than imprinted concrete  and also help with security, (burglars hate walking or driving over crunchy gravel). 

But, gravel pathways and driveways that have light traffic or are neglected can quickly become overgrown with weeds and grass, so let's look at ways of stopping and getting rid of the weeds.

how to stop Weedy gravel
Weedy gravel

How to Keep weeds out of gravel

landscaping fabric weed suppressants; the pros and cons

 

The pros;

  • Weed suppressant material will stop weed growth before it begins by forming a barrier between the soil and the gravel and will stop deep rooted weeds seeding and growing up through the gravel.

The cons; 

  • Over time and quite quickly with heavy foot or vehicle traffic the fabric becomes punctured by the gravel allowing long rooted weeds, like dandelion to seed and grow through it anyway.
  • Digging weeds out that are growing through weed suppressant material is almost impossible without further damaging the material.
  • Most weeds are airborne and will seed and grow on top of the fabric. If you are going to use this method of weed control be prepared to rake of the gravel and replace the landscape fabric every couple of years.

 

Plastic sheeting weed suppressants; pros and cons

Pros: 

  • Black plastic sheets form a barrier between the soil and the gravel cutting out light so kills existing weeds and stops weeds seeding and growing up through the gravel.
  • Plastic sheeting is cheap and easy to cut to shape with a knife or scissors.

 

Cons:

  • White or clear plastic does not stop light getting through so won't kill weeds until the ground underneath completely dries out and this could take months. Therefore, if before it dries out the plastic gets pierced by the gravel (and it eventually will), the weeds will grow through.
  • Black and clear plastic sheeting, in fact all colours, are Impermeable to water meaning rainwater can't escape into the ground and will puddle on the surface or if the gravel path or driveway slopes, will run to the lowest point possibly causing water-logging problems.
  • Heavy foot or car traffic crushing the gravel onto the weed suppressant plastic will  prick holes in it and as I explained above will allow water to drain through the plastic letting weeds grow through.

My Conclusions: 

I have laid a lot of gravel driveways over the years and I know that (unfortunately) weed barriers are not the answer to weed problems in gravel paths or driveways.              Weed suppressant fabrics and plastic don't work for the long-term.

The only sure ways I know to keep gravel weed-free is to dig the weeds out by hand or to treat the area with Glyphosate weed killer. I have described both of the weed control methods I use below.

 


The best and easiest way to kill weeds growing in gravel.

Is to use weedkillers containing Glyphosate that kill the whole plant including the roots. It kills annual and deep-rooted perennial garden weeds, including grass, docks, nettles, willowherb, dandelion and bindweed in one application with no need to re-apply. A single 2 Litre bottle treats up to 3332 sq/m. Or if you are clearing just a small area store it in your shed for next season.

It is also available in diluted form under various brand names, but Instead of using these expensive cans or sprays I use undiluted glyphosate and dilute it myself with water for clearing weeds from driveways and other large areas, it is super concentrated and easy to apply with a watering can.

full application instructions and dilution rates come with it.

Always check Strength actually is 360g/l when buying concentrated Glyphosate weed-killer from other sources. Click thru the add for more information


Hand Weeding gravel.

  •  If the area is relatively small and your back and knees can cope, pulling out the short rooted weeds that are growing over the weed suppressant is fairly easy. Using your fingers, try to get as low down the stem as you can so as not to leave any part of the weed to regrow.
  • Digging out long rooted plants like dandelions that are growing from below and up through the weed suppressant fabric is more of a challenge. It's very important to remove the complete root, leaving nothing to regrow (even the tiniest bit of dandelion root will regrow) and at the same time minimise damage to the liner,
  • The easiest way and the method least likely to damage the liner, is to use a special weeding tool like a corkscrew or long bladed trowel. Scrape back the gravel around the weed, find the tear in the fabric and use either the trowel or corkscrew below to dig out the complete weed root and all.

 

Tools for digging weeds out of gravel drives and paths.

This trowel set is the ideal shape for removing long rooted weeds from gravel, It's also more comfortable to hold and work with than a standard trowel.

I especially recommend this trowel for people with less natural gripping strength, and for those with arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome,  see my article here about gardening with a disability.

 

 

Corkscrew weeder Takes the backache out of weeding gravel. Ideal for removing tap-rooted weeds growing through weed suppressant fabric, simply screw the steel spiral through the gravel into the  ground and pull. lifetime guarantee

This fox is suffering with mange and will die within four months if left untreated.  Feeding the fox will not cure the problem but will prolong the agony and could infect your dog.

Read my page humane-fox-control


More ways to keep gravel pathways and drives weed free

Raking your gravel driveway regularly rakes out surface weeds and moves the gravel around making it difficult for weed seeds to germinate so preventing weed from growing. Unfortunately raking also stirs up the dirt that has got into the gravel creating a seed bed for new weeds.

Topping up the gravel  by spreading a fresh load over the driveway every five or so years will cover the bare patches and the weeds, but as I discovered years ago, spreading more small stones over the top of dirty gravel produces the perfect environment for weed seeds to germinate and thrive also making it even more difficult to pull them out.

Treating weeds growing in gravel with vinegar, simply use vinegar at full strength, white vinegar is often used, although any vinegar will work. Vineger is effective and will kill weeds but does not discriminate so be sure not to spray it on or near plants you wish to keep.

Because Vinegar is a disinfectant it kills beneficial bacteria in your soil sterilising the soil for up to two years, could be a problem if you want to plant in it. 

Using salt to kill weeds, salt works as a weed killer when it dissolves into the soil around the plant roots. Salt kills plants indiscriminately and is very environmentally unfriendly as it stays in the soil for years, so if you must use it, only use salt where you don't want other plants to grow, such as gravel driveways. 

Alternatives to decorative gravel.

Imprinted concrete can be used to make weed-free driveways that is until cracks appear in the concrete! However, they look like plastic are slippery after rain and also produce more daytime glare.  I personally think they look awful, real footballers wives stuff and are not permeable so will need a drainage solution.

Block paving is permeable, long lasting, looks OK and if brushed occasionally and the silica sand kept topped up to fill the gaps between blocks,  driveways should stay weed free for years.

flowerpotman.com