While cost-effective, cardboard or newspaper degrade relatively quickly and lose their ability to stop weeds. Once they degrade completely, the landscaping rocks will start to sink into the soil.
Woven – this fabric, with its criss-cross pattern, allows water and air to reach the soil underneath. You may want to cut holes for bigger roots to get through. It does not puncture or tear.
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A black plastic sheet for garden cover under the landscaping rock is effective at reducing weeds. You can usually get a large sheet, so you can cover whatever ground you need to in one go, without having overlapping pieces, leaving spaces weeds might grow through.
A good idea is to put in a steel edging border around 3 to 4 inches high. This will stop weeds, plants, and grasses from laying down roots in the rock beds.
Pouring boiling water on weeds will kill them, but is not a practical solution for a large area. Make sure you wear appropriate clothing so you do not get burned.
Spun – this is strong and durable and does not puncture or tear. It usually has circular or swirling patterns. You may need to cut holes in it to let plants grow and tree roots to spread. It is strong and can last for many years.
Once you are ready to lay your landscaping rocks, you have a few options to put down under them to prevent weeds.
Landscaping cloth is a useful weed barrier and will allow water, nutrients, and air to flow to your soil and plants. It is lighter than a plastic cover, and while more expensive than plastic, it lets your plants breathe.
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.
Seems unfair, doesn’t it? Fortunately, we have lot of ways to handle the weeds. Here are the pros and cons of a few of the more popular ones.
Vinegar. Some people swear by spraying weeds with vinegar in the heat of the day. You can try simple white vinegar from the grocery store, which is about 5% acetic acid. If that doesn’t work, you can buy stronger vinegar (with concentrations of up to 20% acetic acid) at garden supply stores. You need to use it carefully, though, because it can damage skin, eyes, or lungs.
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.
Like many Arizonans, you may have opted for rock landscaping so you don’t have to waste precious water on a lawn. Then a little rain shower comes, and you find a big crop of weeds popping up in your beautiful rock landscape.
Commercial herbicides (plant killers). Here we’re talking about products like Roundup, which contain glyphosate. They pretty reliably knock out weeds, even seemingly invincible Bermuda grass. The disadvantage is that many people prefer organic products, especially if they plan to later grow edible plants in the area.
Boiling water. That’s right, simply boil up some H20 and douse them. This may not be a permanent solution, but it’s easier than hoeing, and it is completely organic.
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.
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.