Tips to kill weeds in gravel driveways and gravel paths.

What can I do about my weedy gravel driveway?

Gravel driveways  add a bit of rustic charm to your home. Gravel is a lot cheaper than block paving, cleaner than tarmac, good for drainage, looks better 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 getting rid of the weeds and then stopping weeds getting into gravel

how to stop Weedy gravel
Weedy gravel

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

Glyphosate kills the whole plant including the roots.

 

I found the best and easiest way to kill weeds growing in gravel was to use weed killers containing Glyphosate. they kill the whole plant including the roots. It kills annual and deep-rooted perennial garden weeds, including grass, docks, nettles, willow herb, dandelion and bindweed in one application with no need to reapply. A single two Litre bottle treats up to 3332 sq/m.  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. However, 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.

 

This is the Gallop product I use Click the Amazon picture for more information.


Weeding gravel by hand.

  •  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 further 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


How to Keep weeds out of gravel

Do weed suppressant fabrics work? 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. Also 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.

 

Using plastic sheeting for 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. I know that  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 in this article.

More ways to keep gravel pathways and drives weed free

Weeds are a problem in gravel.

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

Topping up the gravel  by spreading a fresh load over the driveway every five or so years. Pros;  Covers the bare patches and the weeds. Cons; 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 makes it even more difficult to pull them out.

Treating weeds growing in gravel with vinegar. Pros; simply use ordinary full strength  vinegar, white is best, although any vinegar will work. Vinegar is effective and will kill the weeds,  but does not discriminate so be sure not to spray it on or near plants you wish to keep.

Cons; 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 any time soon. 

Using salt to kill weeds. Pros; salt works as a weed killer when it dissolves into the soil around the plant roots. Cons; 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. Using salt creates a problem if you or whoever takes the garden over in the future want to plant in it any time ever!

 

flowerpotman.com

Alternatives to decorative gravel.

Imprinted concrete can be used to make weed-free driveways that is until cracks appear in the concrete! However, the finished driveway looks like plastic, is very slippery after rain and also produces 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 good and if brushed occasionally and the silica sand kept topped up to fill the gaps between blocks.  The driveway should stay weed free for years.